"It’s been a busy week: In cooperation with music teacher Marilise van Rooyen and drama teacher and actor Xabiso Zweni the first annual auditions for the new choirs and drama groups took place at the classrooms of Walmer High School. Long queues, noisy children, long afternoons and late weekends – but it was worth it. In the end we found what we were looking for: talented, inspiring and motivated children to join the new Academy of Creativity.
Wednesday, 20th of January: We should’ve known that it could give us some trouble, but we didn’t really think it would give us such a hard time. As it was only the first week of school, many children left school earlier than usually. The result: only seven children joined our first senior choir audition that day – a big disappointment. “At the beginning the auditions gave me some sleepless nights”, Marilise van Rooyen, who’s a former math’s and music teacher and also worked as a choir conductor for many years, admits. Another problem that occurred was that many children first had to get familiar with the venue, the Masifunde team and the whole situation. “Many kids who came weren’t used to singing in front of an audience or in a choir. Some of them never sung before, everything was new to them. I could see they we’re struggling, especially with the piano. But in the end, they all did a very good job. We found some really fascinating voices here”, says Marilise. Despite the minor problems in the beginning 80 children attended the choir auditions eventually. Out of the learners who auditioned for the Masifunde Youth Choir, 28 made it through the first round. Within the next upcoming days, Marilise and AoC-coordinator Msikeleli Moli will make the final decision who will be a definite member of the choir and who won’t, based on their participation and behavior within the first lessons. For the children’s choir (grade 6 and 7) the auditions are still open, as the numbers of spaces is not limited.
Within the next week the senior choir will start with the rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The junior choir will practice on Mondays and Wednesdays. All rehearsals will take place from 3pm to 5pm at Walmer High School. The senior choir’s first official performance will happen on Masifunde’s Freedom Day event on the 27th April 2016. “We know that the learner’s voices will need a lot of practice – that’s for sure. But they are progressing very well, it honestly surprises me. I could see they were improving during the auditions already. They very eager to learn and they show very good attitudes. I see some good things coming up here”, says Marilise and smiles.
Compared to the choir auditions, the drama auditions went really well from the beginning. Whenever you would pass by the room where drama teacher Xabiso Zweni was assessing the children, you would see a long queue of excited kids pressing their noses against the window or jumping around nervously.
More than 40 kids joined in total, presenting mainly poems and monologues in English and Xhosa. “It was a joy to look at them performing. Some of them were really nervous, some of them acted as if they had never done anything else in their life. It was inspiring; I saw a lot of potential in these kids.” The new junior, intermediate and senior drama groups will start working on their individual plays from next week on. The senior group’s aim as well as the senior choir’s aim is to perform their play at the Freedom Day event. Furthermore the senior drama group will tour around different high schools in Port Elizabeth and try to get their play onto a professional stage open for the public."
Learn more about Academy of Creativity here.