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Wits Human Rights & Social Justice Season 2016

Drama for Life with Wits Theatre presents States of Emergency as part of the Human Rights & Social Justice Season 2016 from 3-7 May at Wits Theatre Complex.

The Drama for Life (DFL) Human Rights and Social Justice Project started in 2009 to promote democracy in response to the Zimbabwean social and political situation. In the South African context, notions of rights and justice similarly weigh heavy, as our democracy was birthed after a State of Emergency. We know what it feels like to live in fear. Your story is not my story but I too know your story. We may not all have lived through national atrocities but we understand pain. This is where Human Rights and Social Justice meet: from a common understanding of what it means to have a story- to be human.

As a response to the first International Criminal Court conviction of rape on 21 March 2016, the season hosts, under the theme of “States of Emergency”, the DFL Human Rights and Social Justice Season 2016, looks at gender in times of conflict. It hosts a series of performances – theatre, dance, film screenings and poetry – that interrogates personal and political conflict zones. When the body is in a state of emergency the rules of society no longer apply, it is fight or flight as it tries to survive and adrenalin colonises the mind. The rights we cherish become subverted and anything is possible. But when a State is in Emergency it needs to pull together its people to counter that impulse and offer humanity back to its frightened inhabitants; and this is where art can revive the human being inside the body in crisis.

Drama for Life Artist in Residence Marina Magalhães from Brazil/USA brings to the stage a collaborative dance piece with 9 women from different backgrounds in (UN)BRIDALED. This is a new dance theatre experience created by the seasoned dancer and award-winning choreographer. It brings to life the deeply moving and hilariously defiant stories of women at the precipice of change, in a dynamic live song and interactive theatre performance. Investigating the archetypal role of the bride as a site for patriarchy, subversion, and ultimately transformation, the piece is charged with the vigour of Afro-Latin contemporary dance.

Wits Human Rights & Social Justice Season 2016
(UN)BRIDALED – Rehearsal. ©Evans Mathibe. Image courtesy of Drama for Life

Naledi 2016 Nominee, Lidija Marelic brings to stage Cheers to Sarajevo. Marelic and Aimee Goldsmith (co-writers) “feel an absolute urgency to tell the story of Cheers to Sarajevo so it is remembered and never forgotten. So much of what happened in Sarajevo was about violence against difference. Without expressing our traumatized past we merely manifest war into our daily mentality. A mentality of destruction perpetuated into our homes as rape, into our friendships as betrayal and ultimately into our society as apathy. This story is about the endurance of the human spirit to overcome insurmountable acts of violence and hate.”

Bobby Gordon, another Drama for Life Artist in Residence from Berkeley, California (US) presents When Poetry Hits the Fan. One-part variety show, one-part improvised poetry, this performance puts writers and artists on stage, in front of an audience, with the urgent task of making something. Something meaningful? powerful? funny? truthful? This is an invitation into the backroom at the circus, the research and development lab of the traveling road show as it burns down. With the creative process onstage, and the audience invited into the making experience, we ask what does it mean to make art in a state of emergency?

Human Rights & Social Justice Season 2016 promises to be an exciting and challenging festival full of thought provoking dialogue in this State of Emergence.

Tickets available on

For further information, visit the Drama for Life website, Facebook or Twitter pages.

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