In 2008, after working for 7 years supporting various drama groups in Khayelitsha, Magnet Theatre initiated a sustained 2-year full time training programme, based in Cape Town.
The Full time Training and Job Creation Programme caters for youth who for one reason or another struggle to be absorbed into the training at the University. Some have educational disadvantages from their schooling and don’t make the University entrance grade. Others struggle with funding or with simply feeling out of place in the strange environment of a higher education institution.
The programme offers a carefully structured programme to 20 talented performers in each 2 year cycle. There are classes in play, imagination, physical theatre, voice, dance, singing, improvisation and play making. Training takes place Monday to Friday between 09h00 and 16h30. There are organised visits to the theatre to expose the groups to mainstream and community performance. They are placed in work shadow in various aspects of the theatre industry. The participants are encouraged to maintain their connection with their communities and with their groups. The programme was originally designed by Jennie Reznek, Mandla Mbothwe and Mark Fleishman, and the classes are taught by highly experienced theatre practitioners and teachers. As always with Magnet Theatre’s work the focus of the training is on the body as a universal language that can communicate across cultures and verbal language while understanding that the teaching of physical theatre is one of the responses to violence and the violated body. The programme focuses on the development of skills and on the ability to generate new work. Each trainee receives a ‘bursary’ (stipend) to ensure that they have transport and food to attend the training.
Our goal, where possible, is to bridge the divide between the community and the University. Where this is not possible, it is to provide skills, expertise and a sense of direction to talented marginalised young people so that that they might become employable in the creative industries. The broad intention is of transforming the theatre industry from one that is white dominated to one that is more inclusive.
Currently we are busy with a the 5th cohort of trainees who began their training at the start of 2017.
According to our annual tracking (Nov 2017) our total completion rate is 86% (51 of 59) including 5 that left at the end of the first year to attend further training. 94% of the graduates are either employed or self employed or furthering their studies. Magnet Theatre has been instrumnetal in facilitating access for 25 first generation university attendees, 12 have graduated, 9 are still still studying. The graduates have performed in productions that have toured internationally to Germany, Italy, Sweden, Dubai, Hong Kong, USA, Toronto, China and Reunion Island.
We also have a theatre making mentoring programme attached to the Full Time Training and Job Creation Programme. So far we have mentored 4 theatre makers: Lwanda Sindaphi (Magnet Theatre graduate), Nwabisa Plaatjie (UCT graduate), Siphenati Mayekiso ( Magnet Theatre graduate), Sivuyile Dunjwa (Magnet Theatre graduate) and one designer: Asiphe Lili ( Magnet Theatre graduate). They have receive dmentoring in enterprise development, proposal writing, fundraising, teaching as well as and developing new works over the course of the years internship.