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Drama for Life awarded the 2016 Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights

- Wits University

Drama for Life receives award in honour of its innovative methods for arts as activism, development, therapies and education.

The National Arts Festival announced that Drama for Life is the winner of the prestigious Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights on Sunday at the Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award Ceremony.

Drama for Life received the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in honour of its innovative methods for arts as activism, development, therapies and education. “We are delighted by this recognition from the National Arts Festival ,” said Drama for Life founder and Director, Warren Nebe. “The award serves as a motivation and a reminder that we all have an important role to play in the fight for human rights in South Africa and beyond.”

Drama for Life’s national and international reach has grown substantially in the few years since its inception. The centre now offers six postgraduate qualifications, a comprehensive short course menu, creative, applied and traditional research projects, and a professional theatre company. Established as a project in 2008 in the Wits School of Arts by Nebe, Drama for Life is now an independent department with more than 40 staff members and a cohort of more than 60 postgraduate students.

Following on its major successes at the National Arts Festival, Bushfire Festival and Maitisong Festival, Drama for Life heads for the International AIDS Conference in Durban next week where four major projects will be showcased, including a documentary photographic and live performance collaboration with Anglo American that has been selected as the only exhibit for the central conference space and a performance for the Global Village Opening with partners Charlize Theron and Pieter-Dirk Uys.

“Our success, against all odds, is rooted in our commitment toward social transformation and healing,” says Nebe. “This commitment is translated into meaningful partnerships that embody democratic values. We are delighted to receive this national recognition from the National Arts Festival. Our team deserve to be celebrated for their hard work, sacrifices and depth of humanity.”Drama for Life. Picture by Evans Mathibe.

The citation below was read out by Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director for the National Arts Festival, at the Awards Reception in Grahamstown:

“To celebrate South Africa’s 20 years of democracy in 2014, the National Arts Festival introduced the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights to honour artists and arts projects that engage the arts as a strategy for human rights activism and positive socio-political action. The Award with a cash incentive of Twenty Thousand Rand to advance their work is supported with funding from the Embassy of the Netherlands.

This year on behalf of the National Arts Festival it is my pleasure to present the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights to an organisation that is a global leader in an integrated approach to arts for social transformation and healing. Based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Drama for Life brings together academic, research, South African, African and international initiatives to explore, interrogate, serve and grow the role of arts for social transformation. They provide performances, arts-based interventions, accredited workshops and training throughout the SADC region for partners and leading arts festivals.

At the National Arts Festival this year, the Drama for Life Africa Project Afriqueer brought a dynamic group of artists from Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and South Africa together in an evocative site-specific journey through multiple interactive and inter-disciplinary installation performances. The production was an intimate evocation into the lives of men living on a continent that violently rejects the ‘other’; a dreamscape into a world that embraces queer in Africa.

During the course of the Festival, social media highlighted a violent hate crime against homosexuals that took place during the Festival in a local club and which then flowed out into the streets of Grahamstown. Drama for Life, like everyone else, had a choice. They could continue to express our disgust on social media or in the quiet spaces of our dressing rooms, galleries and offices or we could take our protests from our theatres into the very spaces where such crimes are perpetuated. Drama for Life chose the latter route.

They responded with the ‪#QueerToStay! campaign which mobilised artists providing visibility and a voice in response to the homophobic and xenophobic scourge that continues to sweep across societies.

The Adelaide Tambo Award recognises artists and arts initiatives that remain at the cutting edge of our conscience. It is my pleasure on behalf of the National Arts Festival to present the 2016 Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights to Drama for Life and to call on Artist Committee Member, Adrienne Sichel, to present the Award to Founder and Director of Drama for Life, Warren Nebe, to receive it on behalf of Drama for Life.”