Research for The Playground

Research and development workshops for The Playground South Africa November-December 2003

The Playground was my first stage play. I decided to go to South Africa to develop it and I was fortunate that Olusola Oyeleye, the director, was able to come too.

Here Motsukubyane Middle School students are teaching me some childhood games in Rustenburg, North West Province. My friend Maren (behind the tree!) is holding a microphone I visited a number of schools exploring ideas around friendship.

Olusola took this picture of a fence around a vast school playing field. The fence was a strong image in my original story. In the school behind this fence, we only met white children. In Cape Town we worked with actor graduates from the Arts Media & Access Centre (Community Arts Project) and Project Phakama. It was an opportunity for them to experience Olusola as a director and I learned a lot from watching and listening.

When Olusola and I returned to London, we were very keen that money could be raised to bring at least one of the South African actors to join the cast at Polka Theatre. We had almost given up hope when Her Excellency Ms Lindiwe Mabuza, the South African High Commissioner in London, stepped in and found a sponsor for Thabo Twetwa. Getting a work visa from the UK Home Office for Thabo was very dramatic. It was issued only a few hours before he was due to leave on his flight to London for rehearsals. Without the visa he would not have been allowed into the UK.