Our Journey - the early days

Our ADCID Journey started in 2003 with a week long trip to Zisize Educational Trust and Mponshini Primary School. They are located in Ingwavuma in the Lembombo Mountains of Northern Maputaland, South Africa. This area had a rate of AIDS of 34%, and estimated 37% HIV infection rate and a teen pregnancy rate of 30%. This region was designated a homeland area, and Zulu tribal authorities and culture is present, and the legacy of Apartied is significant.

Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett returned in 2004 along to expand the use of drama drama at the school, and to explore ways address sexuality and relationships with teens. They worked after-school with group of High School learners using drama to explore situations and realities. During this time they have conversations about the range of Peer Pressures and Gender Roles that youth were experiencing.  The Youth participants wanted to make a difference and reach out to their fellow peers. The group had an idea of creating a project where the teens would perform a play for their peers and then discuss issues, they wanted to have some way to impact the issues they faced. When Sillett and Jimenez left South Africa, the group had a skeleton for a play, that they continued to rehearse.


Following that trip, the couple left to find funding, and see if it would be possible to develop this project. Other volunteers from the UK were interested in hearing about the project, and Paulo and Catalina visited Zisize for 3 months to continue work with the group.

Did extensive research and development, contacting DramAidE at the University of Zululand. Stephen and Jenny trained in Theatre of the Oppressed techniques image and forum theatre as Stephen training in physical theatre techniques such as the work of Jaques LeCoq.

Feedback from Paulo and Catalina, led us to examine sustainability of group with youth who were still in school. At that time it seemed the jump from learning about drama and creating a play, to leading a theatre workshop seemed too great for the school youth we were engaging, especially if project was to be self sustaining. We decided that upon our return we should recruit young adults how had finished school to run school visits. In 2005 a newly built centre was opened, and therefore could serve as the central location for the project.

Project implemented in Oct 2006 

Arrived with plan to train local group of facilitators to lead a 3 to 5 day workshop and perform a forum play with grade 7 studentsZisize allocated a local coordinator to work with drama project

  • We put up posters advertising free drama lessons at the Zisize centre. 
  • We had minimal funding, and could not recruit a team of people receiving a salary
  • Had to rely on people coming out of interest
  • Had to ask people to train for free- as we only had funds to pay small fee for school visits
  • Aim was to develop group of actors/facilitators out of people attending free classes

Developments from October – December 2006 

Throughout the training process using Image Theatre we were collectively clarifying and verifying the issues in the community. For instance, the pressures faced, personal motivations and experiences relating to HIV and relationships. By the end of 2006 the Zisize Drama Project was born, and we looked to how this could be ready for touring schools in 2007. 

Some of our final workshop preparations.

The Muti Exercise – Through using the image theatre techniques for exploration when training we gained a greater understanding of how these methods could be adapted towards a workshop environment. It is important for facilitators to have experience exploring themes which relate to issues they feel in their lives in order to appreciate the experience of participants in the workshops,

Strategies to prepare for running workshops in 2007

In November, we invited 3 boys from original group in 2004 to join project.  They were still in school, and we new this would cause logistical issues later, however, we needed males.  These boys were a huge asset to the project. 

  1. Needed to test workshop with audience- performed to group of children from Zisize’s children’s home and children living near Mponshini in Mid December
  2. Group had to develop understanding change in responsibility and expectation (role modeling, liasing with teachers, etc) in order to be ready to lead workshops. We therefore, changed workshop schedule to later in January to allow for facilitators to learn more

We took the team on a team building retreat to Kosi Bay, which for many of the group was their first time seeing the sea. This event reinforced the Zisize Drama Group’s confidence in project. During the retreat we:

  • Discussed expectations, desires and wishes for project and future of drama
  • Zisize sponsored trip to show gratitude for the work the group had put forth.
  • Also performed for local dance group 
January - March 2007 – Zisize Drama Group is launched.

End of Jan conducted workshop with Grade 7 students at Mponshini Primary School. The workshop was a sucess and the young adults, showed that the Group could lead a workshop. We knew during that workshop, that the Zisize Drama Project could work and the time up to March 2007 involved working towards creating independence for the group, and in March - Zisize Educational Trust committed to the group, if they worked as facilitators they would fund the project.

Our return November 2007
  • Assessed difficulties and successes of past year, worked with management to address the challenges and discussed strategies.
  • Group became permanent part time – no longer freelance
  • This also showed Zisize management’s commitment to the group of facilitators
  • Promoted 2 members within the group to have 3 senior facilitators
  • Created 2 new plays with smaller casts – first play had large cast to sustain interest of facilitators, now shift was more sustainable as was easier to manage a smaller cast. 
  • Parent meetings were planned to inform parents of project and give them opportunity to allow in schools- informed the theme of one of the plays
  • Group integrated into initiative with Zisize and Children’s institute- integrate follow up activities with soul buddies 

November- March 2008

  • Ongoing process to further build skills in group
  • Acting Skills 
  • Understanding of methodology
  • Creative development skills
  • Group was able to explain on camera why they do various exercise and was aired on TV
  • Developed 2 additional forum theatre plays. (One with Girl as protagonist, and one with Uncle as Protagonist)
  1. - Girl wanting boyfriend to have money
  2. - Guardian play – protecting loved one from dangerous choices


Developed new workshop (which formed the basis for the Socio-Drama Topography Process)
Parents meetings were very successful
  • Parents wanted more workshops to learn how to talk with their teens
  • Excellent portal into community
  • Will further explore this community dialogue opportunity in next phase of project

In 2008 to support the Zisize Drama Project - Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID) was incorporated in Canada as a non-profit organisation. We will be updating our website to show developments since our formation in 2008.