What is Drama For Life?
Drama for Life is an international academic, research and training program, founded in 2008 by Warren Nebe. Based at Wits University, Drama for Life offers postgraduate training in Applied Drama, Drama in Education and the only Drama Therapy qualifications in Africa at the moment. Besides the academic work, Drama for Life runs a number of projects, all aimed at creating dialogue, catalyzing social transformation and focusing on community engagement.
How long as the poetry competition been running?
The Lover + Another Poetry Challenge was founded in 2010, and initially it involved only students from UKZN and Wits.
Why slam poetry instead of any other art-form and why focus on sexuality?
All of Drama for Life’s projects have a strong performance or theatre element, and Lover + Another is no different. Slam poetry is an incredibly aesthetic and performative art form, as much about the words as it is about the performer’s stage presence and style. Slam poetry is also accessible to our young people in South Africa, and an amazing method for creating dialogue and starting conversations.
Lover + Another is part of the annual DFL Sex Actually festival, and carries the themes of the festival with it. Every year we focus on a new aspect of sexuality and relationships, in the hopes that through poetry, we can start talking about some of the more sensitive issues that we otherwise don’t talk about. In the face of HIV/AIDS, homophobia and violence against women, Lover + Another becomes a safe space to tackle the real issues, in an honest and thought-provoking way.
What does “Lover and Another” mean?
It’s actually Lover plus Another, and it comes from the themes of the very first challenge, the idea of multiple sexual partners, and how this can spread HIV and STIs like wildfire.
How were the finalists chosen and how can interested poets get involved?
Each year we hold regional auditions and finals, where 2 poets from each region are chosen to compete in the national competition. This year we have 12 poets coming from 6 different regions across South Africa, each with a unique style and message. Interested poets should look out for the annual call for entries in each region, or they can get in touch with us at Drama for Life for updates on our facebook page is or follow us on twitter @Drama_for_life
There’s a perception that even if the poets and singers and artists engage in activism, there isn’t much that they can do to influence change in society. How does Drama for Life measure the impact of their work?
It’s always so difficult for those of us who work in the Arts to prove that what we do can change society. Drama for Life employs researchers for each project who conduct monitoring and evaluation to see whether we’re actually doing what we claim to do. These reports are vital in helping us to improve our work, as well as going a long way to showing the impact that we are having on society.
Tell us about this year’s competition – how was the theme “Man.Woman.Any[Queer]ies?” chosen and what does it mean?
Gender and sexuality has been a hot topic at Drama for Life this year, with our Sex Actually festival focusing on masculinity, and also with the worrying statistics of homophobic violence in South Africa. I chose the theme ‘Man.Woman.Any[Queer]ies?’ to play with the idea of the gender binary, where we all have to fit in neat little gender boxes, and anything outside of that is taboo. ‘Man.Woman.Any[Queer]ies?’ is about questioning stereotypes, pushing boundaries and asking what happens when my love doesn’t look how society wants it to. What is it to be different?
What can people look forward to at this year’s finals?
The finals are going to be amazing! We have guest performances from the amazing poet Malika Ndlovu and the activist Donna Smith. We also hear from last year’s winner Nosipho Gumede, and have electrifying breakdancing in the mix as well. But more than anything we have 12 young poets battling it out, and they are some of the most talented young people I’ve ever encountered, they’ll definitely bring their A-game!
Apart from the Sex Actually Festival and the Lover and Another poetry competition, how can we get involved?
Drama for Life runs theatre festivals throughout the year, which are open to anyone with a love for drama and performance. The DFL company Lab is also running Hayani at the Market Theatre until October 27th, or you can come and be part of our DFL Africa Research Conference happening at Soweto Theatre in November. All of this can be found on our website www.dramaforlife.co.za
[information]EVENT DETAILS: Hillbrow Theatre
ENTRANCE: Free Entry
Secure parking available[/information]
more video from last year’s competition: