Today, 27 April, 2014 is the 20th Anniversary of our democracy and freedom. Hey, South Africa, we’re nearly 21. We have safely negotiated our infancy, our turbulent teens and are about to embark on the beginnings of adulthood. It has all been like a roller coaster ride with some amazing highs like the inaugeration of Nelson Mandela, the Rugby World Cup in SA which we won, the Soccer World Cup in SA and the lows like the crime, rape and looting of the state coffers. There is no doubt that SA is a better place than it was in so many ways, but it is also a worse place than it was in so many ways as well. The paradox continues. However, unlike the many naysayers in and out of South Africa, I get to work with our young people regularly and am therefore still enthusiastic about South Africa’s potential. It is and will be a delicate balance between our potential, and our tragic propensity to self-destruct.
Yesterday, on the eve of our 20th birthday, I held auditions for the Young Performers Project which is in its fourteenth year. The YPP is now a Performing Network of SA (KZN Region) musical theatre development project currently funded by the KZN Department of Arts & Culture and RCL Foods (through their RAINBOW brand). It has been an annual production designed to give the best available young musical theatre performers the opportunity to work in a professional environment under the mentorship and tutelage of a top professional musical theatre team. Many of the regions top musical theatre directors (PETER COURT, STEVEN STEAD, GREG KING, CHARON WILLIAMS-ROS), choreographers (DAVID GOULDIE, MARK HAWKINS, SHARON LAMB, DAISY SPENCER) and musicians (EVAN ROBERTS, DAWN SELBY, BARRY THOMPSON, SHEMUEL MAHABEER & LUKE HOLDER) have worked on this project. This is my 10th Young Performers project and once again I’m filled with positive energy as I watch Mandela’s children once again be a shining example of natural social cohesion, superb talent and loads of laughter. Well, yesterday we chose 40 out of 220, and they will embark on this years production of FOOTLOOSE at the UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. It is a huge committment for these young people who will rehearse every weekend for the next 3 months.