St John’s College had 21 students performing at the Festival of Excellence in Dramatic Arts (FEDA), and although there was no winner this year, all participants were awarded Global Citizens awards.
FEDA, now in its 15th year, is traditionally a one-act play festival for high school students that is held once a year and adjudicated by professional theatre practitioners. Last year, the festival had to be cancelled as a result of Covid-19.
This year, festival directors Pippa Sandilands and Janet Baylis (both current drama teachers of St John’s College), decided that they would find a new model for our times that was safe and flexible but that still provided a space for young performers to express themselves to a live audience.
They managed to organise a one-week festival with sixteen schools participating, free tickets and a socially distanced, masked audience. Other staff members from the St John’s Drama Department were also involved - with Craig Morris filming and editing the event and once again stepping in as a judge, and Craig Higginson helping Eli Osei with script development.
At a time when students are having to keep ‘socially distanced’, wear masks, not touch each other and are not able to play contact sports and participate in other collaborative activities, FEDA has once again provided a space where students can work together, make sense of their world, perform their own stories and be heard by an audience consisting of their peers, their teachers, their parents and the esteemed judges.
Usually, FEDA is adjudicated by two judges over a three-week period, who see around 65 plays. The plays have the opportunity for rehearsals and technical rehearsals on the stage before being performed. This year, this was not possible. The sixteen schools participating had to perform onstage having never rehearsed in the space before. Ironically, this helped to release a new energy in the work being performed, where the performances were less reliant on such devices as lighting, set and sound - and became more reliant on performance, both vocal and physical, and a more direct connection between the performer and the audience.
Although there was no winner this year, all the St John’s students participating were awarded Global Citizens awards. These included awards for outstanding performances for Ogorogile Seiso, Daniel Mulugeta, Luyanda Malgas, Kgositsile Mashugane, Mangapa Matlala, Liam Berell, Takudzwanashe Sithole, Taru Chirume, Ben Barry, James Gordon and Sazi Bongwe, as well as an award for Best Original Script for Eli Osei’s play, Respair.
Thank you to everyone who participated.
Monologues: Daniel Mulugeta, Joseph Goldblatt, Kgosi Mashugane, Tafadzwa Nyangoni, Liam Berell, Liam Petersen, Luyanda Malgas, Mangapa Matlala, Obakeng Masokoane, Ogorogile Seiso, Teo Cioffi, Thato Kabi and Graytin Pretorius.
Respair: Ben Barry, Otilie de Beer, Taru Chirume, James Gordon, Zwelakhu Vundla, Takudzwanashe Sithole, and Eli Osei