WHILE the nation is reeling from rampant crime, with solutions seemingly impossible, one of the best possible deterrents is the yearly Stop Crime Drama Festival.
Youngsters are invited to stage anti-crime theme plays that they direct, act in, do the lighting for and even handle their own stage management chores.
In this way the youngsters are given the space and time to express their views on the futility and folly of crime and criminality through music, drama, dance, poetry and prose.
Having toured all nine provinces for more than a decade, the Dramatists Against Crime innovation has had a home in North West for the past four years, thanks to the nation-building partnership of the North West Sports, Arts and Culture Department, Absa Foundation, Business Arts SA, Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.
This month, the popular festival trundled to Free State, thanks to a once-off grant from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.
A similarly backed showcase is due to hit Limpopo in April 2010.
Free State's youths were very impressive. At a three-day showcase during the first weekend of this month, their various talents shone no end.
Versatile artists, Stop Crime Drama Festival innovators and Dramatists Against Crime leaders Martin Koboekae and Julian Seleke Mokoto are assisted by other established thespians to help develop the youthful productions.
These include Zone 14 stars Kere Nyawo and Carol Behane, Mponeng lead actor Peter Mashigo, Scandal's Tin Mnumzana, Generation's Seputla Sebogodi, playwright Chief Sibola, Free State's theatre personality Ernest Moikangoa and emerging Gauteng-based theatre coach Thapelo Motloung.
Local amateur productions shared the podium with star guest theatre, dance and music shows from outside Free State.
This included popular actor Presley Chweneyagae's Cell Number 4, which became the best production at the North West 2009 drama festival.
Winners in the several categories shared a total of R8000 in prizes.