FOURTEEN years ago two artists had the splendid idea to involve youths in fathoming ways of curbing crime. That was long before criminality became a national scourge.
Today the nation is reeling from rampant crime. Dramatists Against Crime leaders Martin Koboekae and Julian Seleke Mokoto are also using the annual Stop Crime Drama Festival to unearth creative writing, acting, theatre directing and stage management talents.
A simple yet effective format is followed. Amateur theatre groups are invited to audition pieces with strong anti-crime themes. Qualifying groups are then linked with professional actors to help enhance the productions.
In this way creative youngsters are given space and time to express their views on the futility of crime and criminality through music, drama, dance, poetry and prose.
Having toured the country's nine provinces for more than a decade, the initiative has had a home in North West for the past four years.
This is 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.
All roads will lead to Mmabatho in Mafikeng, North West, for the 14th Stop Crime Drama Festival. Auditions are under way, with the first having taken place in Potchefstroom yesterday and three others scheduled for Taung today, Mmabatho tomorrow and Rustenburg on Sunday.
In December 2009 the festival trundled off to Free State, thanks to a once-off grant from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation. Another Lotto-sponsored showcase is due to hit Limpopo this April.
Some of the top theatre and TV personalities, who have helped with coaching, mentoring and other crucial tasks, include Zone 14 stars Kere Ny0awo and Carol Behane, Mponeng actor Peter Mashigo, Scandal's Tina Mnumzana, Generation's Seputla Sebogodi, playwright Chief Sibola, Free State's theatre personality Ernest Moikangoa and Gauteng-based theatre coach Thapelo Motloung.