South African children’s voices heard in London play


21 October 2015

The experiences of children from Rammulotsi township in Free State province is getting global attention on stage in London.

Directed by Danny Boyle, The Children’s Monologues Anniversary Gala Performance will take place on 25 October at the Royal Court Theatre in London. In South Africa it will be performed by the children themselves on the same night.

The monologues relate the stories from over 200 children who were asked by the Dramatic Need charity to describe a day they will never forget. They shared their stories in Sesotho and playwrights adapted them for the stage for the first time in 2010.

Watch more about the 2010 version here:

The Children’s Monologues London – 14 November 2010On Sunday, November 14th, in the lead-up to World Aids Day 2010, 15 extraordinary actors, several award-winning writers and one super-star director came together to present a unique theatrical event in celebration of the work of Dramatic Need and raise money for the Pete Patsa Arts Centre. Writers including Pulitzer prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined), Olivier Award-winning Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far), Polly Stenham (That Face) and Roy Williams OBE (Sucker Punch) adapted 12 powerful monologues from original testimonies written by the children Dramatic Need works with in South Africa. These were performed by renowned actors at the prestigious Old Vic Theatre in London and simultaneously in rural South Africa by the children themselves.

Posted by Dramatic Need (fans) on Friday, June 8, 2012

The anniversary performance has an all-star line-up, including acclaimed actors and actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James McAvoy. They will be performing the monologues.

The stories

Boyle told British newspaper The Guardian that the stories were raw, and described them as gut-punching. “They have that directness that you find with children anywhere,” he said. “Kids can’t compartmentalise or filter traumatic stuff so they just say it. With that directness comes this terrible heart-wrenching intimacy.”

The testimonies from the children were adapted by playwrights including David Hare, Laura Wade, Neil LaBute, James Graham and Jack Thorne. Topics range from small moments of childish discovery, to more serious issues such as sexual abuse and the effects of Aids.


The Children’s Monologues were first performed in 2010. (Image: Wikipedia)

“You don’t always want to know these things are going on in the world, especially to children, but when those actors get up on stage in London it will mean that another thousand people hear those stories, and that those kids really have a hell of a voice,” Boyle said.

“Part of the brief is translating the piece into something which has slightly more metaphor to it, and something that theatre does really well is find the meaning and humanity underlying the facts [and turn it] into something which can become universal and meaningful and therefore relatable,” said playwright Wade of converting the stories for the stage.

About Dramatic Need

Dramatic Need is a non-profit organisation that helps children use creative art as a form of expression and self-discovery.

“We work in rural areas of Rwanda and South Africa to provide creative arts education, resources, support and inspiration for children and youth,” the organisation explains. “We promote creative expression as a tool for conflict resolution, social development, gender empowerment and for the communication of positive health messages.”

Source: The Guardian and reporter