Soundtrack 4 Life

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Tit le of projec t Organisa tion Country/re gion Proj ec t focus

SoundTrack4Life Artscape ADE (SoundTrack4Life) South Africa, Western Cape Soundtrack4Life (ST4L) equips high school communities in the Western Cape, principally in the Cape Town area, with the skills to face the challenges of HIV/AIDS. It offers life skills training and performing arts at schools, enabling participants to explore personal choices in an interactive environment. The project also recognises the importance of training and supporting educators in counselling and mentoring skills. ST4L operates through consultation and research to ascertain needs and issues before, during and after each year’s programme. It operates from a Human Rights basis and a nonjudgemental, non-prescriptive approach.

Bac kground

In an effort to change the attitudes that inform much of the high-risk behaviour of South Africa’s youth with regards to HIV and AIDS, GrandWest Corporate Social Investment was instrumental in the establishment of Soundtrack 4 Life (ST4L) in 2004 in partnership with Artscape Audience Development and Education (ADE), owned by the provincial administration. ST4L aims to empower learners to make changes in their behavioural decisions in order to prevent the spread of the HIV pandemic. In 2004 a pilot project was launched with Cape Heart Educational Theatre Company using forum theatre/theatre for social change to address issues around sexuality, gender attitudes and substance abuse for grade 8-10 learners. The pilot project performed in 22 schools reaching 5,800 learners. The success of the pilot has led to the current interactive project. Theatre is potentially a very powerful tool to facilitate change in communities as it can impart information in a non-threatening, entertaining and simultaneously educational way. The use of the performing arts to address the serious and growing HIV pandemic is one of the main strengths of Soundtrack 4 Life. ST4L theatre based programmes and social change workshops are compatible with the Education Department’s Life Orientation curriculum.

Le v e l of cu ltura l interv en tion used in th e projec t

Culture as Context: As elsewhere in South Africa, urban youth culture in the Western Cape has become detached from much traditional culture. ST4L teams are chosen with language, cultural, gender, age and personality diversity in mind to show that all cultures and genders can co-exist and work together with mutual respect and to visually underline that HIV affects all cultures, including Xhosa, coloured, and white population groups. The experienced facilitators operate as inquisitive and interested people attempting to understand issues that grip the participants. Through games and scenarios participants are encouraged to share their backgrounds with one another, to listen and understand, always with respect. In scenarios, cultural and gender practices are examined to provoke open-ended discussion that will lead wherever the participants need it to go. For instance, a workshop in Langa focused on the need or not for virginity testing. Why is it only for women? Is respect for elders mandatory, independent of their behaviour?

Culture as Expression: Soundtrack 4 Life remains primarily a performing arts-driven project as learners find the theatre medium easily accessible and unpatronising. The evolving road show, for example, is used to stimulate the learners to create their own performances, and features music by Tina Schouw, a popular Cape Town singer-songwriter. Culture as Content: The project focuses on youth culture; urban problems for young people in the wider context, drug culture, crime, HIV/AIDS, as well as creativity through music, drama and dance, often based on traditional and personal stories.
Giving Youth a Voice: Mark Hoeben at a Soundtrack 4 Life Road Show, Isilimela High School (courtesy of Mark Hoeben)


An entertaining, vibrant, yet educational and interactive hour long Road Show performance is presented to the whole school first. It never preaches but rather opens up the issues and questions surrounding HIV and the spread of the virus. This is followed, in selected schools, with 5 highly interactive Theatre 4 Social Change workshops for each Grade 10 class (ages 15 to 18) in which issues and subjects like SelfKnowledge, Dreams, Goals and Ambitions; Negotiation around Sex and Teenage Pregnancy; Disclosure and Confidentiality, Rape and Gender are examined and unpacked with skilled theatre facilitators. Simultaneously, Training Workshops for Educators to skill them in Counselling, managing Peer Counsellors, and other topics as well as supervision and mentoring are presented by Lifeline/Childline, Western Cape’s Youth Development Department. Educators are trained in Personal Growth, Counselling Skills, Youth at Risk and Supervising Skills at a three-day camp. Artscape ADE offers four Mini-High School Drama Festivals in school communities to select finalists for the High School Drama Festival in September. These annual festivals give the learners opportunities to create their own scripts and plays that allow their voices to be heard and acknowledged in their communities and on a professional stage. During 2006/7 the festival has been extended to include rural outreach.


From 2004-2006 the project has grown tenfold, both in terms of numbers reached as well as budget allocated. This indicates that ST4L is fulfilling a definite need at high schools as well as the Western Cape Education Department. During 2006, the Road Show alone reached approximately 61,000 learners.

F e e db ac k

After each Road Show a separate evaluation report is completed by the following: an educator, a learner and a ST4L team member. Additional feedback from workshops and road

show participants – school leaders and learners – is continuous through evaluation forms, unsolicited letters and personal approaches to team members. “It made a very good impression, in my own opinion it’s the best show I have seen. They showed us facts that we did not know about. How to avoid peer pressure and make our own decisions by choosing the positive facts in life. I myself three days after the show decided to go and have an HIV/AIDS test and tested negative. “It taught us how to practise safe sex, how to take care of HIV/AIDS people that are infected and affected by it, how we have the right to privacy when we test positive. HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy is real to us. In order for us to prevent it, we have to have the facts in mind that contraception does not control HIV, it only prevents pregnancy.” Student “I really liked the story of Connie, they did it in a great way. They should show us the other side of the story – let the girl drop the boy just because all he wanted was to have sex with her without a condom”. Student “My 14 years of teaching couldn’t have prepared me for the new insight that awaited me at this particular workshop. It became apparent that most of us were ill-equipped to realistically assist and meet the needs of our learners in a meaningful way as it pertains to counselling skills. All our children need lots of love and attention. Although many educators agree with this, they simply don’t see the need for this drastic paradigm shift. It becomes apparent that workshops and camps such as these should form an integral part of every educator’s in-job training, as a matter of national educational security”. Teacher

E v a lu a tion Fu t ure P la ns

There has not been an external evaluation (see Feedback above). ST4L stakeholders are currently in the process of creating a sustainable vehicle that will take ownership of the programme and broaden its current funding base. The project will continue with the successful methodologies it has developed and employed to date. Soundtrack 4 Life, with the blessing of the Education department, is visiting High Schools in late 2008/9 with a series of 3 HIV/Life Skills workshops (including forum theatre) aimed at Grades 10-12 learners. The team concentrate on their strengths and engage youth in discussions and play – encouraging them to rehearse for and contemplate their own futures.

P ar tners

Artscape Audience Development and Education; LifeLine/Childline, Western Cape; and SANTA Cape Town. Cape Heart until end 2005. GrandWest Corporate Social Investment Road Show: 16 April–25 May 07 and 16 July–24 August 07 Theatre 4 Social Change workshops: 7 May–1 June 07 and 16 July–24 August 07 High School Drama Festival: 14 June–28 June 07 and 10 Sept.–15 Sept. 07

Donors S t ar t Da t e

Sources Cont ac t

Mark Hoeben, Margie Pankhurst Margie Pankhurst / Mark Hoeben / Jo-Anne Petersen Artscape ADE (SoundTrack4Life) Artscape Theatre Centre, Foreshore, Cape Town +27 21 410 9986 / /

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