Take a Child to the Theatre in 2018

Assitej SA
03/14/2018 11:53:30

Theatre leaves an indelible impression on a child, awakening awareness of the world and of other people's realities. All children have a right to arts

ASSITEJ (French acronym - Association Internationale du Théatre pour L´Enfance et la Jeunesse) is the only association of its kind connecting thousands of theatre makers, artists, educators and producers dedicated to theatre for children across the world.

ASSITEJ has members in over 100 countries across the globe, including 80 National Centers. On March 20, the global campaign #takeachildtothetheatre advocates for the cultural entitlement of children to have access to spaces for creative play, performance, theatre and expression. March 20 is ASSITEJ World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People.

Yvette Hardie, both the global President of the association, serving her third term in this position, and also the national director of ASSITEJ South Africa, has written a World Day message to conscientise people to the importance of this campaign. She says, "The rough magic that can transform a dusty playground, or a township hall, a school classroom, or a refugee compound, is often what is most needed – not just because it is more practical and economical to meet children in their everyday circumstances, but also, more profoundly, because it IS magic." She is joined by two extraordinary practitioners this year - one from Syria and one from the USA - who have added their voices to the campaign.

Mohamad al Jounde is 17, from Syria, and won the 2017 International Children’s Right Prize for having created a school for refugee children in Lebanon. He says: "Theater still one of the best ways to express yourself and a mirror to show people what’s good and wrong in our world. The stage is a space where you can create your own world; where you can feel your dreams coming to life."

Beloved children's author from the USA, and the creator of Pigeon Drives the Bus, among other classics, Mo Willems says: "When you’re snuggled in your seats and the curtain rises, know that you’ll see more than just a show; you will experience a new, special connection with a child who is special to you. Oh, and that kid will probably have fun, too."

You can read the complete World Day messages here:

In South Africa, there are many children and young people who do not have access to theatre especially made for them. This is a gap into which ASSITEJ SA has stepped with great energy and passion over the last years.

Their project Theatre4Youth (found at aims to make theatre more accessible to schools, for artists to have a sense of what other artists are making, and to be able to research the schools who are interested in receiving work. However, many of these theatre companies do not have funding to take their work to schools, despite having performance-ready pieces, as many schools cannot afford to pay them. We are aiming to select several productions from the website and to support these to perform for needy audiences, through a Thundafund campaign, which is found here:

Donate to this worthy cause and ensure that children and young people get access to powerful, imaginative and creative experiences!

As part of the campaign, ASSITEJ SA also encourages all its members and partners to contribute in whatever ways they are able.

So far the following artists and organisations have stepped up to the challenge. We celebrate their efforts!

Think Theatre - Durban
They will support:
Spec Nova Special School
Inanda Seminary
Bonella Secondary

Joburg Theatre sponsored a whole performance of 'The Colour Purple' for a variety of organizations and schools, including Nkosi's Haven, as part of the campaign.

Beautiful Gates Children's HomeSisipho Mthembu will be taking her children to see theatre courtesy of the campaign.

Ponga Projects & Sacred Heart College
Sacred Heart will be celebrating World Theatre Day and inviting some of the surrounding schools in Observatory area in Joburg to see their latest production "Dancing with the Stars" on 20 March.

They will be staging "Tortoise and the Hare" on 4-5 April and are fundraising for tickets to sponsor kids from Hillbrow and Jeppe in Joburg.

The People's Theatre
As part of their continued support to the campaign, they will be supporting some kids to come and watch "Disney's Alice in Wonderland" which is currently running to 29 March.

Baxter Theatre provided tickets to Zabalaza performances for 45 After School Game Changer coaches from our 2017 programme, and 56 coaches from our 2018 programme. In addition around 300 children and youth were able to view performances at Zabalaza festival for free as part of the campaign. Zabalaza went further and had a special donation project to ensure that all those who could not afford to see theatre were able to do so over the festival. This offer continues this week.

The NSA Festival of The Arts
The festival donated close to 40 tickets to learners from the Hillbrow Theatre and Wits University to watch their productions of Macbeth and The Wiz.

Backpack Puppets
Annie Maheux of Marionettes en Valise offered free puppetry workshops for children during the last week of February. The workshops focused on traditional stories from Canada and South Africa. Annie worked with iThemba Primary School in Vrygrond, and with Lakeside Montesorri in Westlake.

The Fugard Theatre
The Fugard generously offered 20 free tickets for a school to attend West Side Story on World Theatre Day for Children and Young People, 20 March. These tickets were gifted to Strand High School. When asked why they wanted to go Mary van Wyk, an educator at the school, said the following: "There is very little opportunity for our learners to view any professional productions, let alone at the Artscape. We have in the last few years started to do musical theatre as a subject option in Grade 8 and 9 and the interest has been amazing (despite the lack of resources and exposure)."

The Fugard Theatre also have added a special matinee show for schools tomorrow at 15:00 with tickets going for R50. Amongst schools attending this special performance are Plumstead High School and Bellville High School.

Reddam Constantia is staging their version of the hit musical Fame! and generously invited our very own primary school drama group the VIPs to a special performance on 12 March.

There is still time to donate a performance or to sponsor children to see theatre this month. We encourage all those interested to join the campaign by contacting to find out about or offer special events in your province, or to donate directly to the Thundafund campaign.

For further information about the global campaign, interviews or images contact François Fogel, Chair of Communications on +33 66 044 5059 or e-mail or
Louis Valente, Secretary General at

For further information about the South African campaign, contact Yvette Hardie, Director at


ASSITEJ South Africa is a registered NPO (066-875), which operates as a networking platform for people working with or interested in theatre for children and young people. It aims to promote and foster high quality theatre for children and young people, to raise standards within the industry, to increase access and awareness, to be an advocate for the right of every child to arts education in schools, and to build relationships within the sector locally, nationally, across the continent and globally.

Members are present in all provinces include: actors, musicians, dancers, directors, choreographers, theatre educators, stage designers and dramatists, as well as theatre companies, organisations and institutions, critics and cultural journalists, cultural officers, amateur drama groups, organizers, societies and other networks.

ASSITEJ South Africa works to promote international awareness of South African theatre for children and young people, through networking, organising exchanges, touring performances, and by facilitating contacts. Members are given access to a global network of information about festivals, performances, courses and seminars all over the world, with the potential to participate in these activities. ASSITEJ SA was the proud host of the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival, Cradle of Creativity, in 2017.

ASSITEJ South Africa is generously supported by the National Lotteries Commission, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Department of Arts and Culture, Rand Merchant Bank and the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport. Other funders, supporters and partners include or have included the UNESCO IFCD, HCI Foundation, the City of Cape Town, Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Buz Publicity, Splitbeam Gearhouse, Institut Francaise, Alliance Francaise, Africalia, Pro Helvetia, Goethe Institut, Government of Flanders, SIDA, The National School of the Arts, Artscape, Baxter Theatre, Theatre Arts Admin Collective, the National Arts Festival, the Distell Foundation, the Kids of the Cape, the Cape Tercentenary Foundation, CATHSSETA, Ruth & Anita Wise Trust, Lorenzo and Stella Chiappini Charitable Trust, Puppetry South Africa, The Arts and Culture Trust and Nedbank Arts Affinity, Copy Dog Productions, Mandela Bay Development Agency, Speeltheater Holland Studio, Bush Radio, FMR, and Cape Town Television. Account:
Yvette Hardie
021 822 0070/1/2
082 859 5635