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It’s play festival season

The cast of Outside the Maths Class

It’s drama festival season, which means the boys in the Jeppe Drama Club and their teacher, Ms Bronwen Kemp, are being run off their feet as three different casts are staging three different plays in three different competitions, all at the same time.

“That’s how it always goes,” Ms Kemp said, “and last year we were in rehearsal for our major production at the same time as well. We will only be putting the major production on later this year, but it’s still been pretty hectic.”

Jeppe drama has gained a reputation for being good at comedy, so a decision was made to put on serious productions in the festivals this year. “The three plays tackle serious, poignant social issues,” Ms Kemp explains.

“They are entertaining, and funny at times, but they make serious points and are relevant to real-world challenges.” All three plays are written by current Jeppe boys, or recent old boys and two of them are collaborative efforts involving the actors in the respective casts.

The Eads Festival entry features a group of junior actors in Outside the Maths Class, a play written by David Newton and Lesego Ngubane and directed by Kevin Newton. “It’s about two boys who are kicked out of Maths class and who start talking in the corridor,” Ms Kemp explains. “It looks at differences in culture and similarities in human nature and is a humorous examination of the diversity that exists in the school.

The play did not make it through to the next round of the Eads Festival, but it received a number of nominations for awards including best set best sound, best supporting actor and best actor. The results will be made known on 18th May.

Jeppe Boys and Girls have collaborated to enter Please into the Feda festival. “This is the elite competition,” Ms Kemp explained. “All the prestige schools have entered and it is performed in the Fringe Theatre at the Johannesburg Theatre, so the boys and girls get to perform on a professional stage with top lighting sound, sets etc.

It’s a physical theatre piece dealing with awareness of sexual abuse and the culture of rape. The script is an original co-created by the cast members. It addresses a serious issue but does not attack the audience in any way.”

Ms Kemp describes the Grads festival entry, Take it like a man, as “a play by the boys, for the boys.” It tackles the issue of masculinity without accepting the premise that all masculinity is necessarily toxic. “It’s about growing up as a man and not having to apologise for it,” she explains. “It was written by Kevin Colby, again with the collaboration of the cast.”

At its first performance last week the play received merit awards for actor, supporting actor, director, stage manager, backstage and best original script. It was performed again on Tuesday and they will hear soon after that whether it has made it through to the final round which is on 22nd May.

Please will be on stage at the Fringe Theatre again on 16th May (tickets R100) and they will hear after that if they have made it through to final.

We are proud of all the boys and girls involved, and are holding thumbs for them.