Spoken-Word Gets Sexy In Poetry Slam

The Drama for Life “Sex Actually” Festival will go under the covers when it travels around the country during August and September 2010, using the arts to talk frankly about sex, HIV and AIDS and relationships. Add to this prizes to the value of R12 000, and you have an explosive mix of arts and sex-sational entertainment.

The Drama for Life (DfL) Festival, which is part of the DFL holistic arts programme hosted by the Division of Dramatic Art at Wits, will offer an array of theatre, comedy, spoken-word, dance, poetry, art, film and workshops with one overarching intention: using creative means to stimulate discussions and influence behaviour around sex, HIV/Aids and relationships. Now in its third year in Johannesburg, the festival hits the road to debut in three other cities as well. It takes place in Johannesburg from 21 to 28 August 2010; in Cape Town from 9 to 11 September; in Pietermaritzburg from 15 to 16 September and in Durban from 17 to 18 September 2010.

Among the highlights on the festival’s sex-sational entertainment menu is the Lover and Another Poetry Slam, which seeks to create an open and vibrant space for young people to talk about issues such as sex, relationships and HIV/Aids.

The challenge is to come up with a poem or poems that address the theme of “Lover and Another” in a unique and creative way. The Lover and Another Poetry Slam is looking for poets to be part of this innovative poetry competition, where they can win cash prizes worth R12 000.

Aspiring poets will be required to perform a three-minute spoken-word  piece about sex, relationships, HIV/Aids, and how individuals and communities negotiate these issues. Leading up to the competition are numerous poetry workshops that will be facilitated by professional poets and writers. These workshops are open to the public for free, and the closing date for entries is Friday, 13 August at 4pm.

Each workshop session will focus on different topics to help the participants prepare for the competition and ensure their poems and performances are of a high quality. They will be taught how to write around a theme, use appropriate language, develop the flow of their poems, transform the written word into a stage performance, enhance their stage presence, engage with the audience, use props and costumes, and make effective use of gestures and silences.

In addition, participants will have the benefit of a special workshop on copyright, courtesy of the Wits Writing Centre.

The workshop facilitators will select nine participants to be mentored and go through to the regional finals of the Lover and Another Poetry Slam at the Wits Great Hall on 21 August. The national finals, which will pit Joburg’s most promising young poets against the top three

poets from the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, will take place at the same venue on 27 August.

All performances and activities under the DFL umbrella are made possible by donations.