arepp:Theatre for Life Repertoire
Each of the arepp:Theatre for Life shows is specifically designed for the targeted age group to foster identification and emotional recognition. The shows incorporate the current music, the sayings and the ‘attitude’ of that age group, and address the audience on their level, in their home language, with stories from their context.
Each performance is followed by a facilitated peer discussion in an open and non judgemental forum, to encourage debate, and further the cognitive personalisation, problem solving and contextualising of the issues presented. An educator’s guide on how to utilise the arepp:Theatre for Life show as part of the Life Orientation curriculum is distributed for re-enforcement, and to aid in follow-up and support.
Currently the arepp:Theatre for Life repertoire consists of:
1. The “Look Before You Leap” series (5 plays)
Targeted at Grade’s 8 to 12 and dealing with the issues of abstinence, abuse, adolescent sexuality, eating disorders, gender roles and equality, HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, negotiating relationships, parental and peer pressures, pregnancy, self-image, substance abuse, teen suicide, and the pressures to have a partner and to have sex. The focus is on choices, problem solving and self-image and explores how the concepts of gender and sexuality affect perceptions of self and society. The intention is to enhance and encourage the development of the audience’s knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to enable them to make sound, informed and honest decisions about themselves and their relationships; for the present and in the long term.
The Plays (Mouseover for Synopses)
Look Before You Leap: Big Time
Big Time follows a week in the lives of four friends, as they jostle to find the 'right' person to take to on important date. Dealing with image and communication, this show is a bumpy ride through teenage relationships.
The show follows the four as they try to create the perfect images of themselves, as they struggle to find the perfect partner, and what their private thoughts are along the way. It is against this backdrop that the motivations of the characters are portrayed, with their often flawed reasonings, and it is this that drives the show, as we get caught up in their expectations and the realities.
Ultimately the show is about the individual, and the discovery that the individual makes the relationship, and not that the relationship defines the individual. It's about who we are and who we want to be first, before everything else.2. Hangin'
Look Before You Leap: Hangin'
Hangin' is a look at teenage life through the eyes of two school friends, and their feelings, their hopes and their future – as told through their present and their past. It's about being young, and confused, and trying to find yourself, and the things that can go wrong along the way.
The two introduce us to their parents and teachers, their successes and failures, and most importantly, their classmates. We share with them the frustrations of not being 'prefect', of not always fitting in, and of not being able to live up to everyone's expectations - and some of the hardships and heartache of trying to. We experience them trying to put all of the pressures into perspective, so that they don't end up with their heads constantly over a toilet bowl, or pregnant or HIV positive like some of their friends.
In essence the show is an essay in the formation of self. It's about making choices, the choices that are right for you, and the realisation that you are the only one who can know which are. It's also about where to find the strength to make them, especially when those decisions are hard, unpleasant or unpopular ones.3. Re-play'
Look Before You Leap: Re-play
Re-Play introduces the audience to four school mates, their friends and some of the situations that form part of an average social term at an average school. Moving quickly from one to the other, like snapshots of lives, we get glimpses of what it's like to be in high school in South Africa today.
Focussing on the characters and how they react to the events, rather than a specific 'plot' sequence, the show opens doors on the demands that are brought to bear on today's adolescent from family, friends and society. We get glimpses into drinking, teen suicide, substance abuse, relationships and the pressures to have sex.
The show is a journey for each character, as they move from a position of vulnerable innocence, through an encounter with reality, to a point of responsibility, and the decisions that they make along the way. In a sense it is a journey into the self, discovering what influences the making of decisions, and how to make them constructively.4. Oh Yeah!
Look Before You Leap: Oh Yeah
Oh Yeah! pivots around the first formal social occasion on the school calendar and the pressures and temptations that such events bring to bear. The audience share with the characters the frustrations of not always fitting in, of being different, of feeling unsure of yourself, and of not being able to live up to everyone's expectations – along with some of the temptations, hardships and heartaches of trying to.
The show is an examination of early relationships, the social pressures and needs to fit in, and struggle to find and keep your own identity. The pressures brought to bear by peers, more senior learners and adults are carefully examined, as are the issues around beginning relationships with the opposite sex.
Ultimately it's about trusting and believing in yourself, rather than giving in to the pressures around you, and getting what you really want, not what you think you do, and not becoming trapped by the expectations or pressures of others.5. Get Real!
Look Before You Leap: Get Real!
Get Real! is set to the background of an interschool Sports Day and examines the competitiveness, the pressures, the rivalry and the potential temptations that such events bring out in peers, parents and the school community. The audience share with the characters as they struggle to live up to the expectations of those around them, the frustrations of not always being ‘the best’ or winning, of being different or wanting different things, and of feeling unsure of yourself, and your own wants and desires – along with the temptations, hardships, pressures and difficulties of trying to.
The show’s focus is an examination of peer and social relationships, the pressures that can be brought to bear, the consequences, and the needs to fit in while struggling to find and keep your own identity. The expectations of peers, other learners, adults and family are carefully examined, as are the pressures around finding and forming personal social relationships that can be trusted.
Ultimately it's about understanding the nature of expectations, and the pressures they can bring to bear, and learning to trust and believe in yourself, and your own choices, rather than becoming trapped by the expectations or pressures of others.
2. The “About Us” series (4 plays)
Aimed at Grade’s 4 to 7 these shows focus on abuse, growing up, early sexuality and relationships, encouraging the development and acquisition of life skills. The shows also focus on choices, peer pressure and self image, and inform pre-sexually active children factually about HIV and AIDS, while exploring concepts of gender and responsibility.
The Plays (Mouseover for Synopses)
About Us: Playing For Keeps
Playing For Keeps follows two school classmates whose carefree lives just got complicated. The class joker discovers that his sibling, who he thought was overseas, is actually in hospital with AIDS, and his personal search to try to come to terms with and understand it - bringing his family back together in the process. Meanwhile his pretty classmate is overwhelmed by the attentions of an older boy, who showers her with company, and gifts, and attention – but what does he want in exchange?
Through the course of the action the audience is introduced to HIV and AIDS, how it affects the body, as well as the prejudices and misinformation that surround it. They are also led to explore the nature of their own wants, desires and role in society, as well as the role and responsibility of the adults around them and, what is and what is not acceptable. The show stresses the importance of family, and examines how friendships provide support and assistance in difficult times.2. As If
About Us: As If
As If is set against the backdrop of a school play, a 'haunted' cemetery, tryouts for the soccer team, and a first kiss. Three school friends’ lives suddenly get complicated as they start having to deal with the differences, and similarities, between boys and girls – especially when two of them think that maybe, perhaps, they might just like each other. The show examines pre-adolescent relationships and the social pressures to fit in while still maintaining one’s own identity. Ultimately it's about trusting and believing oneself, rather than giving in to the pressures and expectations of others.
The production explores the issues of abstinence, gender roles, peer pressure, self-esteem, self-image and self-awareness, the role of peer relationships, early sexuality awareness, and the social need to fit in and yet be oneself.3. Don't Think So
About Us: Don't Think So
Don't Think So dumps the audience right in the middle of our young heroin’s life just as she begins her quest to save the planet. She has a few problems, though, such as her family and friends thinking there are more important issues than re-cycling, her very 'un-cool' cousin coming to live with them for a while, and her best friend seemingly trapped by the Science teacher's unwelcome advances. But a girl makes a plan… Meanwhile, her poor cousin has problems of his own as he tries to fit in – never mind the issues back home with his sick brother.
This is a 'coming of age' show, dealing with dawning of self-responsibility and self knowledge. Peer prejudice and peer abuse (bullying) are examined along with such issues as the sustainability of the environment, families dealing with HIV and AIDS, and adults using blackmail and bribery for sex. In the end it's about realising that you have the strengths within you to take charge of your life.4. Stepping Up
About Us: Stepping Up
Stepping Up introduces the audience to the biggest boy in the class who, because he’s larger than his classmates tends to see himself as the most deservedly popular boy in the school, who everyone should look up to. His friends think he’s just a big bully, however. Then one day his life gets turned upside down when he discovers his eldest sister, who he loves so much is HIV+, and suddenly everyone is afraid of him.
This show is about peer abuse, discrimination, and dealing with conflict, and examines the important role of friends and family when it comes to support and dealing with problems and fears. Living with HIV is also explored, along with its implications. The show focuses on communication, tolerance and the importance of both physical and emotional support as essential coping skills for life.
3. The “No Monkey Business” series (8 plays)
Aimed at Grade’s R to 3 and able to perform to audiences as young as 3, these puppet shows deal with stranger danger, good and bad secrets, body awareness, physical boundaries, life-skills, self-efficacy, basic health, violence, discrimination, HIV/AIDS awareness, physical abuse and substance use.1. Secrets, Strangers & Surprises
No Monkey Business: Secrets, Strangers & Surprises
Please supply copy!2. Can’t Touch This
No Monkey Business: Can’t Touch This
“Can’t Touch This” focuses on the issues surrounding physical abuse and physical boundaries.
Mac is incredibly excited because his uncle, Bobby Baboon, is coming to visit, and he knows these really great games, and fun things to do. But Bobby’s games get a little too ‘rough’, and Mac begins to feel uncomfortable, so he talks with Vanda, and they begin to feel that something isn’t quite right so they decide to talk to Thandi.
This show addresses ‘Good and Bad Touching’, and ‘Good and Bad Feelings’, and strengthens the idea of trusting in your own feelings. The children are given practical solutions for how to act and what to do when things feel 'wrong', fostering the concept of ‘It’s My Body’ and preparing for physical responsibility and awareness. In addition, sensitively, and without threatening their perception of family, the show raises the issues around what to do when a trusted person or family member makes them feel bad, and in doing so, addresses the feelings around ‘True and False Guilt’.
The aim of the show is to leave the child with a positive view of themselves, the confidence to trust their feelings, and clear guidelines on what to do if they feel threatened or unsure.3. Inside Out
No Monkey Business: Inside Out
“Inside Out” deals with basic heath, sickness and HIV and AIDS
Mac Monkey has a severe cold but is afraid to tell his caregiver Thandi because he’s afraid of doctors. He tries to hide away but his best friend Vanda Vulture, somewhat of a hypochondriac herself, tells on him. Thandi takes Mac to Doctor Hippo who explains to Mac exactly why people become ill, what germs are, and how to look after his body to keep himself healthy in the future.
Later, much improved after his doctor’s visit, Mac and Vanda meet their friend Lindi Leopard. But when Lindi hears that Mac is recovering from a cold, she tells him that unfortunately she can't play with them that day. Lindi is HIV+ and Mac's cold could make her even sicker. Mac and Vanda, confused about germs, dirt and illness, run away from Lindi – to wash their hands! A disappointed Thandi, with Lindi’s help, then explains about HIV and how some sicknesses are different, and how one gets it.
Mac feels very guilty about the way he acted and, in a gesture of goodwill, offers Lindi the medicine that Doctor Hippo gave him to cure his cold, despite Vanda’s deep misgivings. Unfortunately after taking the medicine Lindi starts to feel dizzy and very, very sick. Mac gets a huge fright and calls Thandi, who puts things right, explaining how Lindi’s medicines, her ARV’s, control her HIV and how they reacted badly with Mac’s cold medicine. Thandi reminds the friends that you only take medicines from people you know and trust like parents and doctors, and that you never share medicines.
The show incorporates a whole range of life skills issues – basic health, hygiene, illness, understanding HIV, medicines and ARV therapy. Sex as a possible mode of transmission for HIV is not discussed with this age group. The focus is rather on an understanding of HIV, relationships with people who may be HIV+, and the basic principles of good health. In addition, sensitively, and without worrying the audience, the show raises the issues around terminal illness, and the fear and discrimination that are associated with it.4. Healthy, Happy and Hip
No Monkey Business: Healthy, Happy and Hip
"Healthy, Happy and Hip" focuses on the issues surrounding self-confidence, well-being and drugs.
Mac, trying regain his popularity, and become the "most liked" and the best at school gets himself some special "wonder-pills" from Clarence Crocodile (up to his old tricks, naturally), which he thinks will solve his problems the way the pain-killers solved Thandi's headache. As can be expected, the pills don't work out quite the way Mac had hoped, and things just get worse for him. Fortunately Vanda remains his friend, despite his rather strange behaviour, and is able to help him sort it all out in the end.
This show looks at how we see ourselves, and how that helps us to be healthy and happy. It also examines how using stimulants to make you feel better is dangerous. While dealing primarily with confidence and self-image, the show is frank and open, encouraging a healthy understanding of both physical and mental well being and happiness. The intent is to foster the concept of "I'm OK, you're OK "and lay the ground work for self-knowledge, while introducing the notions of all types of drugs and stimulants and their dangers.
The aim of the show is to leave the child with a positive, healthy sense of self, and the strength not to be influenced by the actions and pressures of others.5. Push me, Pull you
No Monkey Business: Push me, Pull you
In “Push me, Pull you” the issues of sharing, respect and bullying are examined.
Mac gets a really ‘cool’ present for his birthday, and he can’t wait to show it off to Vanda - but when Vanda wants to play with it they have a disagreement and then a huge fight, and it breaks. Mac is so cross that he says some very nasty things and upsets Vanda a great deal and the friendship is “over”!
So Vanda makes a new friend, Oswald Ostrich, but Oswald doesn’t like Mac. He teases Mac ‘cause he looks funny (he’s not a bird, like they are), and bullies him, and finally takes away Mac’s present to play with. Things look quite black for Mac and Vanda for a while but fortunately, Thandi’s on hand to help heal the friendship. Then, when Vanda finally realises what Oswald’s doing and tries to stand up for Mac, Oswald pecks her and pulls out her feathers....but what Oswald doesn’t know is that friendship is stronger than nastiness - and bullies are cowards.
This show deals with sharing and respect, and examines the concepts of friendships, relationships, and personal feelings in relation to others. It also examines teasing and bullying, ‘racism’ and violence when you’re angry or upset. The feelings of all concerned are sensitively examined, and the audience are given practical solutions for how to act in similar circumstances, while clearly showing that fighting and violence are not the answer.
The intent is to further build on the notions of trust while introducing the ideas of respect and why ‘playing and working together’ is important.6. Us & Them
No Monkey Business: Us & Them
“Us & Them” deals with accepting diversity, tolerance and co-operation.
Mac, Vanda and their friends at school never play with Tommy Turtle because he’s a reptile, and everybody knows that “reptiles don’t make nice friends because they’re different”. But then, one day in the forest, when sneaky old Clarence Crocodile tries to trap and eat them, the only way our friends can escape to safety is if they learn to work together and help each other...
This show examines the very difficult issues of acceptance and working together. It looks at how we see others, how we see ourselves, and how, although everyone is different, that doesn’t mean they’re bad or wrong. While dealing primarily with self-image and tolerance the show also encourages the view that everyone has value, irrespective of their different beliefs, looks, or even way of talking. The intent is to foster the concept of ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ and prepare the ground for co-operation and unity.
The aim of the show is to leave the child with a positive, healthy sense of self and of others, with the understanding that everyone is special in their own way, and how our differences make us stronger.7. Safety First
No Monkey Business: Safety First
“Safety First” deals with basic safety, responsibility and trust.
Thandi has to go out on an errand and can’t find a sitter in time, so she leaves Mac and Vanda alone in the house, after teaching them the rules of being alone and about strangers. Needless to say the minute she’s left Clarence Crocodile shows up disguised as a postman with a special surprise delivery for Mac. Fortunately Mac manages to come to his senses just in time and Clarence’s little plot is foiled. But not for long, the ever hopeful Clarence returns with a new plan, and this time he’s not taking no for an answer. He sells some matches to Mac who tries to cook himself supper – with predictable results. Fortunately Thandi comes home before the fire rages out of control.
This show examines the concepts of personal responsibility, personal safety and trust. It looks at the rules that we need to know to keep ourselves safe, and why we have those rules, and it also examines the motives of people we don’t know, and how we should respond to them. While dealing primarily with personal safety, the show also examines trustworthiness and encourages the notion of looking after oneself and others. The intent is to foster the concepts of personal security and accountability for yourself and others.
The aim of the show is to leave the child with a clear, sensible understanding of some of the more basic rules of daily life, and a grasp of what the concepts of responsibility and trust mean, and how to keep yourself, and others safe and out of harms way.8. Sniffles & Sneezes
No Monkey Business: Sniffles & Sneezes
“Sniffles & Sneezes” deals with basic hygiene, germs, sickness and Tuberculosis.
Mac Monkey has a very bad cough but is afraid to tell his caregiver Thandi because he’s afraid of doctors and going to the clinic. He tries to hide away but his best friend Vanda Vulture, somewhat of a hypochondriac herself, tells on him. Thandi takes Mac to Nurse Hippo who explains to Mac about TB, why people become ill, what germs are, and how to cough properly so as to not spread his germs and how to look after himself in the future, settling his fear of doctors and nurses.
The show incorporates the basic symptoms of Tuberculosis, how to recognise them, and how to protect against them. TB is destigmatised, put into context with other illnesses and explained, along with the notions of adherence to medicine regimens, and most importantly how to cough and wash hands properly to protect oneself and others from spreading germs. Attention is given to promoting a healthy, balanced lifestyle as a means to combat illnesses, along with personal health and hygiene.