Schools get into the act

Something interesting is happening… A trending phenomenon among dynamic, forward-thinking schools all over the world is the realisation that a creative capacity is essential for school leavers, facing as they are a future we cannot predict. After the rapid shifts in the global economy and the migration of “change management” from being a job title to becoming a component of absolutely everything for every working human, creativity is emerging as the only logical answer to an unknown future. For the first time in recorded history and awash with the recent few decades’ experience of astonishingly rapid change in the global economy, the future is a blank canvass.
As honorable and still necessary as Maths, Science and Accounting might be, for example, the future is, in so many ways, honestly unknown. We are schooling children for an indeterminate future and the only essential skills they will need that we can be sure of, are courage and creativity. Creativity to gauge and manage the unknown challenges and tasks of the future and the courage to formulate responses that lead humanity forward. What this means, is that creativity – performing arts, music, artistic expression – is being rescued from the periphery of school curricula the world over and placed center stage as an essential attribute of the modern school leaver. South Africa is, for once, not lagging behind in this emerging reality, and a snapshot of Johannesburg City shows that a number of local schools are waking up to the realisation that creative arts are an absolutely essential component of a modern education, as we face a world of academic inflation and job descriptions that go from tentative to obsolete in a matter of years.
Foremost among the leaders in this arena has to be Redhill School, Johannesburg, hosting as it is the second annual RedFest in late September 2017. From smaller yet still grand beginnings last year, it emerges this year as an absolutely top-tier weekend of arts and entertainment, with a lineup of theatrical must-sees from the SA circuit. Far from being a ‘nice idea’ with limited scope, curator Matthew Counihan – a celebrity in his own right and full-time staff member at Redhill – has put together a phenomenal weekend of artistic delight for those lucky enough to be able to attend. After the success of RedFest 2016, the excitement and sense of anticipation surrounding RedFest 2017 is palpable. Catering for crafters, performing arts practitioners and enthusiasts, individuals and families in search of a youth-centric weekend of enjoyment, as a testament to the hard work and savvy innovation of the Redhill School staff, the festival is a rich treasure trove, geared for a weekend’s entertainment second to none.
For the casual observer, kids in tow, stalls and events cater for all ages while mom and dad can grab a delicious cuppa in the Highveld sun or sit down to some great meals from Jozi’s finest gourmet food trucks. With a wide range of shows, market stalls and kids’ activities, RedFest allows one to flit from one venue within the grounds to another, all the while soaking up a diverse range of artistic endeavor.
From humble (and successful) beginnings, the festival has managed to secure some of South Africa’s hottest and most exciting talents. RedFest will play host to Craig Morris (Tartuffe, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny), James Cairns (The Snow Goose, Three Little Pigs), The National Children’s theater, Mncedisi Shabangu (Woza Albert, Tshepang) and many others. These are only a handful of the 30-odd productions that will grace the RedFest stages. Joining the theatrical line-up will be some strong student theater, created for students by students.
RedFest has formed a strategic alliance with ASSITEJ South Africa – theater for Youth. Through this partnership, RedFest will provide a platform for The Naledi/ASSITEJ SA Award Showcase. Shows under this banner are considered for Naledi Nomination. Big theatrical names like Andrew Buckland, Lesedi Job, Kate Normington and Germandt Geldenhuys of Binnelanders fame are all either directing or performing at RedFest this year, and far from a school’s minor attempt at staging a few shows, RedFest is an obviously weighty and legitimate platform for the performing arts on a global scale, coming in at an internationally accomplished level to wow audiences of all shapes and sizes.
The weekend line-up includes theatrical productions for the whole family, live music and contemporary art exhibitions, Jozi’s finest gourmet food trucks and a Community Table where guests can unwind, indulge and soak up the culture. With a varied and detailed programme of entertainment, this year’s festival promises to exceed all expectations of a great day out.
The festival will be opened with an exclusive Red Tie evening on Saturday 23rd of September and will run until Monday 25th of September at Redhill School in Morningside, Johannesburg. Various patrons are endorsing the event and include Ismail Mahomed, Yvette Hardie, Dawn Lindberg, Kate Liquorish and Alan Ford. With ample parking and all amenities available, RedFest 2017 promises to take a great initiative to new heights and provide premier entertainment for all comers. Festival Director, Matthew Counihan commented, “RedFest aims to pack a punch with youth-focused theater performed by South Africa’s top actors. RedFest celebrates the community of the arts and aims to assemble South Africa’s most celebrated on Redhill’s stages. All ages from three upwards will be catered for and we hope to create an unintimidating showcase that will ignite a passion for the arts across the entire family.”
If creativity of expression, courage, and collaboration are the skill set of the future, then Redhill School is doing its students proud with this initiative. Finding a top-tier educational institution like Redhill actually walking the talk, rolling it out and instilling a sense of the willing and dramatic in their students bodes well for that bright future.
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