THE LITTLE ONE Announced as NAF's 2017 Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award Recipient

THE LITTLE ONE Announced as NAF's 2017 Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award Recipient
Ngizwe Youth Theatre's THE LITTLE ONE

Ngizwe Youth Theatre, a theatre group based in Soweto, has been named the recipient of the National Arts Festival's Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award, which is sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands, for their production of THE LITTLE ONE.

According to Ashraf Johaardien, the Festival's executive producer, the aim of the award is to recognise artists whose creative practice is grounded in exploring the potential of the arts to advocate for social change and to entrench South Africa's human rights culture. Commenting in the year when the National Arts Festival, in partnership with the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, has rededicated the award as the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award to mark the Centenary of the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, he said:

Adelaide Tambo shared a birthday with Nelson Mandela and was a champion of human rights. Her daughter Tselane Tambo presented the inaugural award in 2014 in honour of her late mother.

In addition to the cash prize sponsored by the Embassy of the Netherlands, the Festival will invite the winning production to return the 2018 National Arts Festival Fringe and will waive the costs of registration. The winner will also have the option of producing a new work on that basis.

Festival Fringe Manager, Zikhona Nweba, said:

O.R. Tambo was one of the founding fathers of our constitutional democracy so I am really excited that the Fringe as a platform is able to recognise his contribution and to reward artists who keep his spirit alive.

Ngizwe Youth Theatre staged THE LITTLE ONE at the 2017 National Arts Festival Fringe. Emma Delius co-directed the production with its writer, Tshabalira Lebakeng, who also features in the piece along with Thembelihle Hadebe and Nobuhle Mbanjwa. The play is the true story of a group of homeless children living on the tough streets of Durban. Tshabalira takes us on a journey back to when he was a street child in that city. Woven into his story are the experiences and testimonies of a young cast, who themselves know the betrayal of family and the daily grind of surviving poverty. THE LITTLE ONE uses song, movement and humour to chronicle an authentic picture of the daily experiences of a mismatched group of children, who sleep beside each other at a train station.

Upon receiving news of the award, Delius and Lebakeng released the following statement:

We are deeply honoured to be the first Fringe production to receive this rededicated version of a prestigious award. THE LITTLE ONE brings to life the experiences of street children, drawing on the childhood of co-director Tshabalira Lebakeng. The story was brought to life by a community project called Ngizwe Youth Theatre based in Diepkloof, Soweto. Ngizwe harnesses the untapped but huge potential of children who live in the area. We are deeply grateful to the National Arts Festival Fringe and our sponsors for giving us the opportunity to stage this production for the first time.

Former recipients of the previously named Adelaide Tambo Human Rights Award have included Irene Stephanou's SEARCHING FOR SOMEBODY, the Market Theatre Laboratory's NOORD! and Drama For Life's AFRIQUEER.

Now in its forty-third year, the National Arts Festival is the largest and longest-running celebration of the arts on the African content. It is held annually in the small university city of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. The programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music, jazz, visual art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, craft fair, workshops, as well as a children's arts festival.

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