The concept of fieldwork grew from a need expressed to the Market Theatre from the Community Theatre practitioners who wanted a space to showcase their work and the transfer of skills to give the productions a chance to work on a more professional level. Some groups wanted their work to be on the stages of the Market Theatre while others wanted skills to work in their own communities.
The fieldwork programme began with three fieldworkers and showcases were held on Saturdays and Sundays at the Lab in Goch Street. The programme grew very quickly as the need was great as it still is today. We have never looked for groups - the groups contacted the Lab to book showcases and those too far to come to the Lab requested visits and workshops.
Tale Motsepe got the idea to have a Festival to showcase the best work and this was the birth of the Community Theatre Festival. In order to bring work to the Market Theatre as part of the development of new South African plays it was decided to have a second smaller festival where a maximum of 10 of the plays could be further developed and one then chosen by the Market for a run in the Laager Theatre under the mentorship of a professional practitioner.
The demand for artistic input from the Lab Fieldworkers has not diminished and as was evident from the meeting with the Dutch Minister of Culture the need for the development of Community Theatre is as necessary today because the Arts Centers are not functioning as was envisaged in the White Paper and the Market Lab is one of the few institutions that works with Community Theatre on a consistent level.
The project requires funding for the wages and trips of the fieldworkers and for the facilitators of the showcases and for the festivals.
The Annual Community Theatre Festival has seen us working across the country to identify groups, individuals and plays that show potential to be developed.
As part of our legacy programme we have turned particular focus in, Limpopo, Kwa Zulu Natal and the Northern Cape as internal research has shown that these areas had little or no infrastructure yet the most exciting theatre work has come out of these places in the last 5 years.