Web of who
“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