27 sept 2006 verscheen op SAGOODNEWS

Miracle theatre for Soweto

Herman van Veen The performing arts are alive and well, and now they are to have a home base in Soweto. The Herman van Veen Foundation is a Dutch organisation which creates opportunities for children in developing countries to hone their talents and creativity and they have made it possible for the first theatre to be built in Soweto.

Two years ago when Herman van Veen, a Dutch stage performer, musician, actor and songwriter/writer, met members of the Thesele Creative Society, he was concerned to discover that Soweto had no theatres where live performers could present their work. That is where the idea for the Miracle + Theatre was born.
A sod turning ceremony was held on Sunday 24 September, Heritage Day, on the site of the theatre, which should be ready to open by next September. Van Veen said that the needs of the community were carefully considered when the theatre was designed, as “to establish a European type theatre would be nonsensical.”

The site for the theatre was donated by St Paul’s Anglican Church. The Miracle + Theatre will form part of the Ipelegeng Community Centre in Jabavu. An under-utilised hall at the centre will be converted into a multi-purpose space with retractable raked seating for 344. The latest technical equipment will be installed. The theatre will be managed by a joint board of members of the Ipelegeng Community Centre and Thesele Creative Society, a cultural drama group. They will be responsible for the projects and programmes the offered by the facility. The theatre will cater for everyone – from children to adults. Although Thesele will be the resident company, they will also facilitate performances by guest companies.
Van Veen said that the theatre was a gift to the people of Soweto. “I hope this theatre will give the young people an opportunity to display their talents… A theatre has been the missing link in the development of arts and culture in Soweto.” Workshops for children will be run from the centre, encouraging young people to develop their talents and providing them with a space where they can perform. The Miracle + Theatre is a dream come true for the Thesele Creative Group, who have longed for a permanent space where young people can be trained in theatre techniques.

The theatre has been named the Miracle + because it has something extra to contribute to the community