Instead of acting against a structured one-sided theatre work, some theatres often opt to side with an institutionalised response of power and patronage against the avant-garde artists who yearns to bring the ‘other work’ to the theatre stage.
Instead of a consolidated and united voice of theatres for art innovation, we usually find scattered individualistic voices with different messaging on how to encourage and promote the ‘unknown unsophisticated performance art work’.
So, as we approach the stage of a post-Covid-19, it is demanded of us, art practitioners and the creatives, to shout against a theatre of patriarchy, patronage, nepotism and corruption, and seek for a theatre that benefits all artists, especially, the young, up-and-coming and women artists, for their creativity growth, and related sustainable economic growth spin-off.
Our youth in South Africa is facing the worst economic outlook for a generation with more than 24% of 18 – 35-year-olds out of work, making the youth unemployment in South Africa reaching a catastrophic 40% for the year 2020.
Our young people are not just our next generation of audiences but also our future creative industry leaders as well. Therefore, the theatre must place the youth artists at the heart of every programme and project it does.
So, for the sustainability and future of theatre, theatre itself must begin to take care of these human resources/human capital – youth and women artists – by giving them the opportunity to exercise and exhibit their respective fresh creative talent.
Therefore, for theatre to survive in South Africa, it must then enable to mentor, inclusively, its constituents – the artists, the patrons, and the larger audience – to be in the forefront of inspiration, innovation, discipline and endurance.
Why theatre then? Theatre is to bring diverse voices into the theatre, and not be shy to push the boundaries. Theatre must allow its constituency (artists, patrons and audience) to be moved, to be touched, and to be transported to a new place never visited before, just as had the virus Covid-19 done with our known lifestyles and world-views, which have been altered for good.
Let the theatre be then the centre that encourages a vast range of truly differing perceptions, ideas, and knowledge, so as to progressively drive creative arts to higher quality levels. That is what theatre is, and that is why theatre must aspire to: to always aspire to this definition.