Through Positive Eyes interacts with audience
Two years later, in April 2012, 12 of the original 17 Through Positive Eyes photographers/activists participated in an 11-day intensive workshop with eight actors from the Drama For Life programme and Themba Interactive.
The goal of the workshop was to fuse photography with live performance, to combat stigma and strengthen the advocacy potential of people living with HIV/Aids in South Africa.
Through Positive Eyes participants shared their stories and the Drama For Life and Themba Interactive actors, directed by Warren Nebe and Phala Ookeditse, transformed those stories into theatre, beginning a powerful and creative journey.
Public performances were staged at the A.R.T Show Exhibition every Saturday at noon from May 12 to June 2 2012. The run ended on a high note with an audience comprising of 40 school children and the Through Positive Eyes photographers/activists.
The monologues were initially staged against the backdrop of a series of tableaux reflecting significant moments in their lives. The actors then found spaces in the exhibition area to share their second monologues, which gave the audience members an opportunity to walk around each installation and have a more intimate interaction with the characters. They also had the chance to speak to the characters, which allowed for a more enriching experience. Audience members could also leave messages of hope on the exhibition wall relating to what they had witnessed and, as such, the performance became more about experiencing and less about simply viewing.
The performances were very personal. The teenagers particularly took to the story of Bonginkosi Mthembu, performed by Zimele Ndhlovu.
His story, about a man in a gay marriage, was delivered with charming humour and peppered with poignant moments. The unique stories were told with detail and care and were dynamic, with sliding contrasts between humour and pain, and the message was clear – they are true survivors. These are powerful and important stories that must be told in the current South African context.
The full production will be developed and presented at Drama For Life's Sex Actually Festival in August 2012.
Their work can be seen online at www.throughpositiveeyes.org.