Every year Artscape identifies a rural community for its annual Rural Outreach Project. It was created to give access to people in outlying areas in the Western Cape that cannot necessarily travel to experience what Artscape patrons would experience on a professional stage. Now in its 12th year, the Rural Outreach Project identified Vredenburg as the town to take its full theatrical experience in the Western Cape.
In anticipation for an outstanding event, Weston High School in Vredenburg was identified as the school to host the Rural Outreach Concert for 2018.
Artscape’s Techincal Team loaded the Artscape truck in Cape Town, ready to complete the long haul to Vredenburg. Once there, they began the task to convert the school hall at Weston High, into a fully operational theatre.
From the minute the truck was unloaded, a site inspection was conducted to prepare the hall. The conversion took three full days to complete. Lighting rigs and totems were set up and suspended from the stage and ceiling in the hall, drapery rigs were put into place; while the sound, cabling and lighting teams got to work. World-class sound systems and lighting were used to transform this ordinary stage into a fully functioning theatre. Once the staging and lighting was complete, the staff blacked out the theatre hall, laid down the stage mats and put the chairs into place. It was a behemoth of a task which the team executed to perfection. The transformation was absolutely spellbinding.
The curious learners from Weston High School were left in complete awe as their school hall underwent the transformation. The Artscape Technical Team conducted workshops with the learners to introduce them to the technical aspects of theatre and included workshops on staging, sound and lighting, as part of Artscape’s commitment to spread knowledge and love for the Arts.
The Rural Outreach Concert coincided with the commemoration of veteran poet, writer and activist, Reverend Patrick Petersen, a stalwart of the Vredenburg community who tragically passed on, leaving an infallible legacy on the community and the fight against Apartheid in South Africa.
The commemoration programme activities, in partnership with Afrikaans.com and the Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans (SBA), included a mural to honour the Afrikaans language, video installations on the reverend’s life directed by Sandra Prinsloo and by local visual artist Elton Lesch, as well as an honorary panel forum before the show.
Over the next two days, the Artscape Rural Outreach Concert was packed to the rafters. Artists delighted the community with the ever-engaging Camillo Lombard and his Band, Mr Entertainer himself, Robin Peters, songstresses per excellence, Zinzi Nogavu and Zanne Stapelberg among a host of other big names and institutions in the arts world; like Bongani Kubheka, Cape Town City Ballet, Craig Pedro, Mariete Opperman, Zip Zap jugglers Mosuli Ntshongam and Masixole Mbambatho as well as Dance 4 All.
Dr Niel le Roux, CEO of Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans, Senior Board Member for Artscape Mjikisile Vulindlu, MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais and presenter and business pioneer, Ingrid Jones were distinguished guests in attendance.
For the Artscape Team, the Rural Outreach Programme continues to leave its legacy in inspiring both communities and youth to discover the arts.
Artscape Chief Executive Officer, Marlene Le Roux says: “We, as city dwellers, often take for granted the privileged positions we are in. And to be honest, I wish there were more funds available to allow us to do more of these rural outreach projects. This is such an important part of demystifying what theatre is, what it can mean to people; how it brings beauty into people’s lives and how it helps to rebuild and restore lost dignity caused by the past injustices when theatre was simply not accessible to our people.”
Principal of Weston High School, Elvin Vraagom, believes that Artscape’s Rural Outreach brings with it an immense opportunity, where the learners are able to experience the theatre and delve into new fulfilling career paths through the arts, due to the exposure the Rural Outreach Programme affords. “It is a really great initiative and is very effective, as the youths’ outlook on life is often limited [on the West Coast]. It provides them with insight to the various career choices in the world. We are honoured at hosting this event, to let our learners enjoy themselves, and to ultimately show our learners a different side of life.”