Youth Theatre Blazing a Trail for Social Change

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Theatre practitioner Alirio Zavarce is a poster-child for the Venezuelan program El Sistema, where children in impoverished and challenging circumstances are given musical instruments and gathered together into choral and orchestral ensembles.  El Sistema is not so much about music as about social change and development.

And thus Zavarce carries this legacy into his theatrical work here in Australia: first with his artistic vision for No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, and more recently with his founding of True North Youth Theatre Ensemble.

True North was started by Zavarce when he saw the lack of theatrical opportunities for young people, particularly those living in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. Knowing the power of theatre to give voice to the voiceless and to drive social and cognitive development, he pulled together funding to get this company off the ground. He says of the group’s structure “We teach by making.”

The company now runs several programs in Klemzig, Elizabeth and Marion.  Some of these are funded by Anglicare and Marion City Council, in order for children to experience this work without incurring cost to already cash-strapped families. Most excitingly, the company is now offering True North Pathways, which seeks to mentor young people to become leaders in theatre and in their communities. This program is sponsored by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and is based at Klemzig.

In the five years since True North was founded it has won a the Adelaide Critics Circle Independent Arts Foundation Award for Innovation for E Bully, a Ruby Award and an invitation to the World Festival of Children’s Theatre in Stratford, Canada, with A Kid Like Me.

 

True North Youth Theatre Ensemble

This Friday the company reprises its 2014 award-winning Fringe show A Sense of Home, which explores the idea of home including issues such as children living across two households and those who are homeless. Ten performers, aged from 14-18, have put together this show, including the use of technology such as live-feeds and music which they have composed and play themselves.

A Sense of Home plays at Marion Cultural Centre, Friday June 22nd at 6.30, the Saturday June 23rd at 2.30 and 6.00 pm, with school shows on Monday June 25th at 10.30 am and 1.00 pm. Entry is FREE!

The young people of True North deserve Adelaide’s support.

Sadly, we have no El Sistema here in Australia. But Alirio Zavarce may just be the next best thing.

Read more about True North here.

For more information or to rsvp for opening night, email [email protected]

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Tracey Korsten is a freelance writer, poet, speaker and performer, based in Adelaide. She blogs at middleagedlove.

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