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Celebrating 25 years of groundbreaking creativity

My Body My Space Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative FATC
Lulu Mlangeni’s The Encounter at MBMS (Christo Doherty)

In 2015, FATC curated the first My Body My Space: Public Arts Festival (MBMS) in Ekhurleni and in 2016 moved it to Mpumalanga, using Ebhudlweni as home base – ‘a real flagship moment for FATC,’ says Sabbagha. ‘MBMS continues the journey of our company’s commitments to socially responsible arts and theatre and arts activism.’
     The MBMS takes place annually in public spaces throughout Emakhazeni Local Municipality. In this way, the festival brings together the diverse rural citizenry of Emakhazeni by disrupting the familiar ways in which people move through shared social spaces. Since its first iteration, the festival has hosted almost 1 000 local, national and international performing and visual artists, crafters and vendors. Each day, around 600 people attend the festival.
     The Ebhudlweni Arts Centre is also home to FATC’s full-time dance company. These dancers implement the Arts Education Programme as well as create and perform within the Artistic Programme, creating new works that tour both nationally and internationally. 
     ‘Social issues remain front and centre in our work,’ says Sabbagha. ‘Of particular interest and concern currently are the realities that face rural citizens. It is clear that our entire economy and access to opportunity is focused in urban spaces. It becomes almost impossible for young people to disrupt cycles of poverty, failed education and unemployment in rural communities. 
     ‘In addition, living and working surrounded by nature brings into sharp focus the necessity to engage through our creative work and the way we live with the realities of the climate catastrophe. So, it is the intersection – our failing education system, staggering youth unemployment and the climate/ environmental crisis that is currently driving our work,’ says Sabbagha.
     FATC’s groundbreaking work has earned numerous awards over the past 25 years, but a key honour for Sabbagha has been 2018 National Arts Festival and Royal Embassy of the Netherlands Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in recognition of the company’s long-term work in arts activism and human rights. 
     ‘The creation of the Ebhudlweni Arts Centre and the diverse programming offered is without a doubt a highlight and most significant moment in the journey of the company,’ says Sabbagha. ‘Our work with rural youth children and people with disabilities locally and nationally has brought us closer to delivering on the original vision and mission conceptualized in 1995. So it is safe to say that the real achievements now are the legacies that are created and generated by the company in the lives of young people who previously were unable to access formal arts and culture experiences simply due to their physical location and socio-economic position.’
     The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative will be celebrating their two milestones – 25 years as a dance company and five years of the Ebhudlweni Arts Centre – throughout 2020, visit www.forgottenangle.co.za for more information.

WATCH their series of videos celebrating 25 years of creativity.

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