Our first project was called Xiseveseve – (coming together to share).
Academic leads: Dr Maria Stuttaford and Professor Gillian Hundt.
The theatre made for our first project was specifically created to feedback the data and research findings about a Stroke Prevention Initiative in South Africa. Understanding the social context of Stroke is complex and Theatre an ideal medium for retelling narratives and inviting audience intervention. This play was performed by the field workers themselves and presented informally in the villages where the research had taken place.
Santé Theatre is also driven by the desire to create theatre for those who might not usually attend mainstream theatres or art centres.
Santé Theatre has no borders and finds its forms in the existing cultural expression of the communities that create it. It offers the means of creating an analysis of the economic, cultural and social conditions, particularly of the very poor
For the Xiseveseve project it was appropriate to position the audience as the extended family of the protagonist (the stroke sufferer) and invite their counsel through the drama. It was important to leave the text to be improvised by the field-worker/players within a pre-written framework in order to accommodate the suggestions from the audience. The field workers and the researchers themselves were could be making the theatre thus it described as ethnodrama using a forum theatre approach , though it was also community theatre as it was performed by non-professional actors in a community setting (under a tree in a central part of the village for example).
The performances took place in the rural Agincourt sub-district of Limpopo Province, South Africa. This is an area that was part of the former homeland of Gazankulu during the apartheid era. It comprised at the time twenty-one villages and a population of over 67,000. Over 25% of the population are self-settled Mozambican refugees who have settled in Agincourt since the war in Mozambique in the 1980’s. The inhabitants are the Shangaan people (Stuttaford et al 2006).