For the first time in ASSITEJ’s 50 years of history we will have a conference in Africa. This fact is full of meaning and reflects the development and evolution of our association. After a fruitful EC meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon, I traveled to Cape Town, South Africa along with our president, Yvette Hardie, from November 19 – 23. The visit was within the ASSITEJ protocols, previous to the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People, Cradle of Creativity.
During my visit I was able to get to know the city of Cape Town and its surroundings a little. Cape Town, in the Cape of Good Hope has a privileged location, nestled among a mountain range, home to the largest variety of wildflowers, and a turquoise blue sea with sandy white beaches. It is a modern city with some historical vestiges like The Castle. In the company of Jacqueline Domisse, artistic director of the Festival, Thiru Naidoo from WESGRO, Yvette and other members of the production team we toured different places, sites and theatres to get an overview of where the various activities of the Festival, Congress and General Assembly will take place.
Artscape, Baxter Theatre Centre, City Hall, the hubs in Vrygrond, Langa and Themba Labantu, the District Six Museum and other places they have selected all seem very appropriate venues and show diversity within their characteristics and fine facilities, which will allow international activities to take place in good conditions. At the same time they offer a broad spectrum of the infrastructure and the desire to make all the sectors of South African society participants of this event. This, in my opinion, will be a very inspiring experience for our international community.
I was very pleased to meet the people who make up the great work team for ASSITEJ South Africa, the CEOs, technical and administrative heads of some of the main venues and theatres, and the artistic directors of the Inauguration Ceremony an African show. I was also able to verify a good organization, additional to a warm, friendly and kind treatment. These last two characteristics are very important when speaking about artists, theatre, children, their families, communities and international delegations that will be participating with the purpose of going One Step Beyond Intercultural Exchange. The organization for this Congress is a very big challenge in many ways, but I was able to confirm that all the conditions are well met.
The interesting thing about ASSITEJ Congresses and International Festivals taking place in different parts of the world is that they allow us to learn about the diverse contexts in which the activity we so love, theatre for children and young people, occurs. The planning that our colleagues are engaged in will enable all of us to participate actively in the General Assembly, where important decisions will be taken regarding ASSITEJ’s next three years of work. We will address and reflect upon the theme of Intercultural Exchange from different platforms and points of view. We will enjoy the Festival Cradle of Creativity, where we will be able to see the best shows for young audiences in the world, a good number of co-productions as well as a great selection of performances from South Africa and other parts of the African continent.
I would like to share with you some pictures that show different aspects of the site inspection in Cape Town. I hope you enjoy them.
By Marisa Giménez Cacho