We are six weeks away from an historic moment – a 12-day prolonged moment which we all hope will be the catalyst for continued change and growth into the future: the first ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival on African soil…
What does this mean for us the hosts?
It means a weight of responsibility; after all, we are welcoming you all to our home, to experience some of our realities and complexities, and to have a conversation which is grounded in a better sense of our context than perhaps has previously been the case. We want the experience to be just right, but it is also a huge event with many intersecting parts, and all of these need to be attended to. We also feel a huge sense of responsibility to our audiences, to our funders and supporters, and of course to the ASSITEJ members, to all those who have entrusted us with this task.
It means a great deal of stress; ASSITEJ SA is only ten years old, one of the younger members of the ASSITEJ constellation of countries… and so we have no history of direct experience of the international association in our country, or across our continent. So convincing the powers that be that this meeting will have significant, transformative potential has been very challenging and the unstable political conditions we are currently experiencing in South Africa have not helped to bring a sense of certainty to the planning. The stress that has resulted from the impact of these changing conditions has been considerable.
It means a great deal of excitement; as we look at the rich programme we have compiled, the extraordinary and timely theatre that will be available, the quality of the presentations and workshops, the opportunities for children, teachers, artist-facilitators, researchers and general audiences to experience relevant, eye-opening and inspiring programmatic elements that excite and inspire us to keep working and to ensure that we are able to meet the expectations of all.
It means a growing sense of community; as volunteers and interns join us from different parts of our city, our country and the globe, as our staff grows to accommodate the range of tasks that need to be accomplished, as more supporters come onboard to fill some of the gaps, and as YOUR arrival gets closer. We feel this community of those who care about theatre for young audiences in our country and internationally growing and we feel more connected within it….and this fills us with a sense of greater belonging within the global context of ASSITEJ.
And finally it means that we are poised between a before and an after – we are asking what we still need to do in order to ensure that this is more than just a 12-day moment. We want to ensure the legacy that this event will leave behind, and we are actively working to try to secure as much of the potential for change that this offers as possible.
We look forward to welcoming you to Cape Town.