Active Inquiry creating a network of community theatre of the oppressed companies in edinburgh with support of creative scotland

Building on the work from  Active Inquiry's recent Resilience project, the Edinburgh-based company will be working with groups from BethanyShakti Women’s Aid and The ALMA project to create a network of three community Theatre of the Oppressed Companies.

Being able to work with these groups over a two year period will enable project partners to build much better connections and allow the groups to become semi-autonomous – all the time being supported by members of the Active Inquiry Company.

The groups will all develop work to perform to members of their own communities as well as at a mini-festival at Out of the Blue each May and in the Just Festival in August 2016 and 2017.

On top of this Active Inquiry will set up a new Theatre of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOTOL)which will be open to anyone interested in the possibilities of the Theatre of the Oppressed and will meet every two weeks in Edinburgh from February 2016.

Gavin Crichton, Artistic Director of Active Inquiry “This funding from Creative Scotland is a recognition of the important work we do with the community groups we engage with. Two years of funding means that we have the time to develop our theatre as part of long-term community development processes that are so crucial to our work. We look forward to developing a network of Theatre of the Oppressed Companies in Edinburgh like ones we have seen work so well in other European Cities.”


TACKLING SECTARIANISM THROUGH ARTS supported by the Scottish Government

Thanks to Scottish Government as part of their nationwide campaign to tackle sectarianism we showcased six plays exploring and challenging the narratives, causes and understanding of intra-Christian sectarianism in Scotland. In partnership with Black Dingo Productions, these plays challenged local writers, directors, actors and audiences to examine the complex sectarianism in Scotland from the time of Martin Luther to present day.

Just Festival 2013:

Singin' I'm No' a Billy He's a Tim by Des Dillon

It's the day of the big game. One Rangers fan, one Celtic fan, in a single jail cell. The match isn't the only thing that will kick off.

The 'Old Firm' may play two divisions apart at the moment, but the rivalries and hatreds that get projected on them are just as strong.

Creepie Stool by Jen McGregor (specially commissioned for the project)

Edinburgh, 1637, Jenny Geddes flings a stool at a minister and starts a riot in St Giles. While Calvinists and Catholics clash on city streets, Jenny’s employer demands an explanation – leading to unwelcome discoveries behind closed doors.

Kiss, Cuddle, Torture by Jen Adam (specially commissioned for the project)

In a town known for its social and religious issues, three women battling their own demons at home, face the possibility of being expelled from their only refuge – the cold and crumbling school building where they work. Bonding over relationships, children and the importance of wearing marigolds, Lynn, Sue and Lucy are pushed to breaking point, forcing them into a life on the edge of escape.

Just Festival 2014:

Such A Nice Girl by Jen McGregor (specially commissioned for the project)

Eilidh has always been a nice girl. She's caring, she's polite…and she's in jail over an email full of vicious threats and sectarian hate speech. A play about grief and prejudice.

Warrior by Jen Adam (specially commissioned for the project) 

16 year old Evan lives in a different world. A world where he can ignore unwanted attention and shut off from the harsh reality of high school. But when his world is threatened, he reacts hastily, with drastic consequences. 

Detailing the time between his arrest for leaving anti-Catholic comments online and the day of his trial, Warrior explores the aftermath of blind - not bigoted - ignorance to sectarianism in Scotland.

The Onion of Bigotry by John and Gerry Kielty (specially commissioned for the project)

Layer by layer the onion of Sectarianism shall be peeled away…to music. Will there be tears? There should be. A new play by the award-winning The Kielty Brothers.

The above listed plays were part of the just festival programme. The plays have been also presented at other festivals, venues and community centres, incl. schools, outwith the just festival/ Edinburgh Fringe seasons.

showcasing south african street talent at Edinburgh Festival Fringe by bringing opportunities to telented youth from Soweto

Mind-blowing energy, fresh vibes and enticing rhythms from South Africa. A multi-talented cast representing Soweto street culture, blends tribal and urban dance and music to tell a story of a new generation.

Told through a story of a young male character, After Freedom: New Rhyth,ms of Soweto Musical takes audiences through ups and downs of youth life in Soweto. The township of Soweto, where past and new generations intertwine through rhythm and dance, is creating its new vibe. The new generation is bridging the gaps between tribes and cultures by means of urban culture, street dance in particular.

20 years of freedom have changed South Africa. The country is now facing similar problems to the ones of the rest of the world. With the musical, the story of new South Africa is told. The story which shows two shades of contemporary Soweto and South Africa. The bright one, where raw talent takes youth far and helps spread messages of hope and determination. The dark one, where battle for freedom has been replaced by street battles between drug dealers and other criminals.

The urban youth culture dictates new rules in multicultural Soweto. There are no divisions between Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana or other tribes. The new culture creates a common language expressed through dance. Dances and rhythms of Soweto are an integral element of emerging new social dynamics in Soweto and a fascinating means of communication with the rest of the world.

Past divisions and segregation still shape minds and dictate the rhythms of new Soweto. One thing has not changed though, the rich and vibrant dance and music culture. The culture which once supported the struggle for equality, is now utilised as means of facing and challenging social issues such as unemployment and substance abuse. 

aims and objectives

The objective of the musical production is to offer opportunities to develop skills and gain performing experience to vulnerable youth of Soweto. Youth with amazing talent but limited opportunities will share their culture with others. The production engaged 10 young urban dancers and musicians and create sustainable employment opportunities in South Africa and abroad. 

Co-produced by Just Festival, developed by Morgan Njobo and Luntu Masiza, who have had the opportunities to see the world owing to their great talent and determination, the musical gives back to the community that raised Morgan and Luntu. The spirit of Ubuntu lives on.

Screening of 'Songs from Soweto: an acappella journey', documentary film supported by the British High Commission in Pretoria 

‘Songs from Soweto: an acappella journey’, sponsored by the British High Commission in Pretoria,  is a 17-minute documentary charting the remarkable journey of 5 a cappella singers from one of South Africa's most notorious townships to the famous Edinburgh Fringe and global fame. Simply Soweto Encha, fka Africa Entsha, share experiences of post-apartheid generations of Soweto where old shack misery meets new opportunities and prosperity. Raised in struggling families affected by racial divisions and troubled neighborhoods, the acappella singers bring the message of courage, hope and determination to achieve one's goals despite circumstances. Coupled with interviews with witnesses and participants of the struggle for equality, the project pays tribute to Mandela's legacy. 

The film was premiered in London at St Matthew's Westminister Church in May 2014. It was further screened along Simply Soweto Encha tour dates, including screening events at Bedford Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Bath Mission Theatre, etc.The film was well-received by audiences who enjoyed the opportunity of asking Simply Soweto Encha members further questions on their lives in Soweto, music career and ambitions for future. 

The film is now available online, please watch it below.