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CityPress - - The Good Guide -

“I spoke to ev­ery­one, from the hys­ter­i­cal white woman run­ning the ac­tivist group to the busi­ness owner who was be­ing bro­ken into at night,” he says. “When I did in­ter­view the of­fi­cials at the top, it was hor­ri­fy­ing how lit­tle re­search they had done.”

Re­al­is­ing that he was go­ing to have to dig deeper, Cop­pen started look­ing for col­lab­o­ra­tors.

“As a white male, I didn’t have ac­cess to the real story,” he says.

“I could speak to so­cial work­ers, but they all said the same sh*t, had the same statis­tics and inane files that ac­tu­ally said noth­ing ... They weren’t lis­ten­ing to the peo­ple go­ing through it.”

So Cop­pen in­vited The Big Brother­hood, a com­mu­ni­tythe­atre group he had worked with be­fore, as well as ac­tress Mthombeni, to col­lab­o­rate with him.

At this time, so­ci­ol­o­gist Dy­lan McGarry en­tered Cop­pen’s life.

McGarry had re­cently com­pleted a so­ci­ol­ogy PhD with a fo­cus on em­pa­thy and he was in­ter­ested in us­ing theatre in the so­ci­ol­ogy and ed­u­ca­tion fields. He con­ducted work­shops with the ac­tors, where they were trained in eth­i­cal re­search.

“The idea of lis­ten­ing,” says McGarry, and pauses ... “lis­ten­ing is one of the most eman­ci­pa­tory things you can give. Lis­ten­ing is a gift. You are gift­ing some­one your at­ten­tion. But you also be­come a dif­fer­ent

WHEN NOTH­ING ELSE MAT­TERS Ac­tors in a scene from the play

CAUGHT IN THE WEB A scene from Ul­wembu

A LIFE OF PAIN The com­mu­nity pro­duc­tion worked with whoonga users to bring their sto­ries to life

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