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WATCH | How to Uplift the nation’s youth through the universal language of theatre

Words can only do so much. And with 11 national languages in South Africa, communication sometimes holds people back.

But our bodies have the power to express universal thoughts and emotions. That’s why actress Jennie Reznek teaches theatre that focuses on physical expression.

In a country where more than 50% of our youth is unemployed, she’s committed to improving education, uplifting people, and creating understanding.

In 1987, Reznek and fellow theatre professionals Mark Fleishman and Mandla Mbothwe established Magnet Theatre, a Cape Town-based NPO that trains underprivileged youth in the dramatic arts.

Three decades later, Reznek’s work is as relevant as ever. “In South Africa, there are still huge gaps in terms of access to education,” she says.

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To close them, Reznek reaches out to schools in Khayelitsha and Philippi. Programmes like Culture Gangs steer kids towards creativity instead of negative influences, while a two-year course upskills actors at tertiary level.

Over the years, Magnet Theatre has released more than 35 original productions, all influenced by the students’ creative abilities and individual stories.

Each of their performances conveys emotions and experiences that go beyond words.

“Theatre is a tool for allowing us to understand what it is to be a human being,” Reznek says. “If you provide a space for people to do that, you can only build a better world.”