We spent our most recent residency (June/July 2011) in Lesotho’s Malealea Valley working more extensively with the rural drama group Khalemelang Bohlasoa. Together we created Would You Still Love Me if You Knew? (Ha U N'u Tseba, Na U N'u Tla 'N'u Nthate?).
In 2008, we explored the effects of stigma and denial in regard to getting tested for HIV, along with the potentially dynamic role played by "concurrency"— networks of simultaneous, ongoing, committed sexual relationships with a small number of people. Our 2008 performance, It's Just You and Me ... and My Wife and Your Boyfriend (Ke 'Na Le Uena Le Mosali oa Ka Le Mohlankana oa Hau Feela), also played the National University, the capital, and the Malealea Valley. In Malealea we collaborated once again with local villagers and performed in the Malealea Festival for an even larger crowd.
In 2006 we looked at how gossip and silence, in Lesotho and in each of the other cultures represented, could lead to disempowerment and danger in the face of the most significant challenges of modern life. The resulting theatre piece, Dance Me to the End of Love (Ntjeke Ho Isa Pheletsong ea Lerato) was performed at the National University of Lesotho, the capital city, Maseru, and in the Malealea Valley. In Malealea we collaborated with local villagers to improvise scenes based on their responses to the play and concerns about HIV. Together we created a new drama—the centerpiece for a valley-wide festival, drawing an audience of over 500 village residents.
To date, WSI has included students and faculty from: the National University of Lesotho; the State University of New York, Empire State College, New York City (US); the University of Sunderland (UK); and the University of the Witwatersrand (RSA).
The Institute's primary theatre work takes place every two years in sub–Saharan Africa, with residencies, research endeavors, fund raising, and performance projects in participating countries during the intervening period. The ultimate goal of the Institute is to empower both student and community participants with the tools and resources necessary to create similar theatre projects in their own communities and lives. Click here to see what former WSI'ers are doing and where they're doing it.
The collaborative creative process WSI has been developing, which begins months before the multinational group gathers in Lesotho, is discussed on The Communication Initiative Network, and will be featured on our Watch/Listen page.
The 2011 show looked at the way “tradition” and “modernity” clash around questions of religion and medicine, and presented a performance frame for issues of homosexuality, sex trafficking and the growing divide between rural and urban – all guided by a rambunctious, irreverent pair of bilingual Tricksters.