Rooibos News15th Clanwilliam Arts & Lantern Festival

Rooibos Ltd was one of the main sponsors of the 15th Annual Clanwilliam Arts Project. Driving this cultural project was the Magnet Theatre Educational Trust, based in Observatory.

The /Xam! story, The Rooikat, the Anteater and the Springbok Child, was chosen from the Bleek and Lloyd collection for this lantern festival performance in Clanwilliam on Sunday, 6 September 2015. This Bushmen story is about relationships between adults and children, and what happens when relationships are damaged. The Springbok mother neglects her child who is then stolen by an Anteater and brought up as the Anteater's own. Rescued by the Rooikat, the Springbok child is eventually given back to its mother. The story is an allegorical reflection of harsh sociological realities.

The planning for the festival started in January this year. On 30 August, 40 facilitators, including eight Magnet Theatre coordinators and various UCT drama, music and ballet students as well as a cook left for Clanwilliam to start with preparations for this festival.

The facilitators ran workshops for children from Grades 4 to 7 at the Cederberg Primary School and at the Clanwilliam show grounds. This included workshops in dance, drama, art, lantern making, drumming, music, choir and stilt walking. A total of 700 T-shirts were printed to give to the children who participated in the project. In the evenings, the facilitators continued to work on the big structures and the lanterns. The mural was painted with the help of the learners.

On Saturday, 5 September, the finishing touches were added to all the lanterns and sculptural objects for the parade. It was time for the rehearsal before the actual performance.

On Sunday afternoon, the children's faces were covered in "slip", a fire retardant and ritual marking separating ordinary life from the life of the event. The 700 children paraded around the huge rugby field with lanterns and large structures. Among them were stilt walkers. Music was provided by a local brass band.

Once the children were settled, the story of The Rooikat, the Anteater and the Springbok Child was told with music, song, dance, shadow puppets, drumming and drama. The event culminated in a fireworks display.

This successful cultural event once again enriched the lives of the communities of Clanwilliam. The children were extremely invested, both in the workshops and in the performance, as evidenced by their attendance over the week. Audience numbers also continue to grow from year to year. This year, over 3 000 people attended this community event.

Funding remains the biggest challenge of this project going forward.

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