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3/30/2011 - "A Message from Charles Dumas at University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa" by Charles Dumas

A Message from Charles Dumas at University of Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

by Charles Dumas

As some of you know, I have been in South Africa since January. I was invited to be a senior professor in the Drama Department of the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. I was asked to be a special advisor as UFS is setting up their film program. I have been teaching classes; acting for the camera, theatre for development, case studies in protest theatre, and auditioning technique. I am also directing several shows including a special performance for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July. I have also guest lectured at several secondary schools in the townships.

I’ve been involved in several projects with the International Institute for the Study of Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. Bishop Tutu spoke at the launch last month, which was also attended by US Ambassador Gibbs. My short play on reconciliation, OUR FATHERS DAUGHTERS was used as the kick-off for the Seminar on Reconciliation. It was later converted to a short film, which we hope will be broadcast soon. For IISRRSJ I am co-creating and directing a dance/performance narration piece on the Reitz Four Incident, which shall be showcased in early May. Also for the Institute, I have been conducting a weekly film festival/seminar on the works of Spike Lee and their relevance to building a multicultural society.

One of my camera students, Marelize Visiage, produced a film for the OECD competition. Young people from 46 different countries submitted short 3-minute videos in response to the question: Progess is…. Marlize’s was one of the 20 finalists (and one of only two from Africa). You can view her wonderful video on the OECD website under –Progress is Sharing the Burdens. And please vote for her so she can go to Paris to show her work to the world.

I am finally finishing up the editing of RIANN AND JANA, a South African Romeo and Juliet story which we began at Stellenbosch a few years ago. We need a music sound track and titles.

Our Theatre for Development class produced the Rossmaryn Project. We used TFD techniques to investigate problems of suicide amongst young people in the living residences. It turns out suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in South Africa. It was very successful and may serve as model for theatrical intervention projects here.

As you can see I have been keeping pretty busy. Which is good since my wife is at PSU until early May. She is not the only one visiting. Penn State grad students will be bringing Herb Newsome’s play, REVENGE OF THE KING to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July and there might be a mini-tour to other venues.