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Feature: Matthew Hahn Tours South Africa

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Feature: Matthew Hahn Tours South Africa

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This summer, Matthew Hahn, Senior Lecturer in Drama at St Mary’s University, Twickenham travelled through South Africa as part of activity to recruit international students for the University’s MA Theatre Directing and Physical Theatre programmes, as well as its popular Study Abroad Programme. The trip saw Matthew visit universities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and he documented his time travelling the country with this blog. St Mary’s MA Programmes - Open Forum at Wits University, Johannesburg My first appointment at Wits University in Johannesburg was on Monday 11th August at 1.30pm. That morning, I had just seen the end performance of a workshop on Ethical Leadership that I had facilitated at the South West Gauteng College in Soweto. The streets of Johannesburg are notoriously busy and borderline dangerous, so I relied upon my colleague at the College and old friend, Masie Mojela, to heroically drive myself and three Wits University Drama students who were at the morning performance to the Wits University campus. All of us made it in plenty of time for their 'Open Forum' session for soon to be graduating final year students where they had the opportunity to meet, listen to and ask questions of people who are working in the creative arts (and who generally are recent graduates). I took the opportunity to present to these students during a talk about St Mary's MA and Study Abroad programmes, how they can access funding for such studies as well as what it is like to study in London. The presentation, which was the first of its kind from a UK university, was well received with many students opting to sign up for more information about the programmes. There was also great interest in studying abroad, especially with the theatres in London. St Mary's Study Abroad Programmes - Acting Students at Wits University, Johannesburg The following day, I met with second year acting students and spoke with them about the Study Abroad opportunities, which many of the students were very excited about. They also expressed an interest in our MA programmes, which they said they would be considering if they didn’t participate in the Study Abroad scheme. There was such a sense of pleasure that St Mary’s had taken the time to personally talk to them about these opportunities as they had never had a London-based university visit their programme. St Mary's MA and Study Abroad Programmes - Meeting with Geoffrey Hyland, Associate Professor, Head of University of Cape Town Drama Geoffrey Hyland, Associate Professor, Head of Drama at the University of Cape Town was very interested in learning more about the various programmes at St Mary's. Unfortunately, due to his students’ upcoming assessments, I was unable to meet with them, which was disappointing but I have since been in touch with some of our informational literature and hope to be able to make a return visit at a later date. St Mary's MA and Study Abroad Programmes – Applied Theatre Acting Students the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Durban On 8th September, I met with a handful of acting students at University of KwaZulu Natal. I was supposed to meet with a larger group of students but due to a very successful student strike against higher education fees (they have gone up 100% in one year), many students stayed away from the classes on that day. However, it was an incredibly positive experience and the students whom I did have the opportunity to meet were very interested and excited about the prospect of studying abroad either as part of an MA or term exchange. As we have a very similar Applied Theatre programme at St Mary’s, I thought that some sort of exchange would be of great benefit to both sets of students. The St Mary’s Applied Theatre students, who were in Durban as part of their Theatre for Development work placement module, had the excellent opportunity to work with these UKZN Applied Theatre students all day on Monday. They then presented a new piece of theatre called ‘Daddy’s Eating Ashes’ based on the stories of South African freedom fighter Gcina Mhlophe on Tuesday at a community centre in the Valley of 1000 Hills, outside of Durban and Wednesday at a high school on the South Coast. Drama students in South Africa
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