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A rape question in a matric exam is not a problem; rape is

Nikita Ramkissoon | 2013-11-27 10:58:00.0

Image by: Nikita Ramkissoon

The hullaballoo over the Gauteng Speech and Drama matric exam question dealing with rape is totally overblown.

Authorities and the public are up in arms over how the education department could give such a question the green light. I say it’s entirely justified.

We tend to over-estimate how sensitive kids are - they can deal with this at least as well as we adults can.

Aside from being part of one of the plays the matrics studied, theatre, in its essence, is supposed to critically look at society, and as much as the government and the public love to turn a blind eye to issues such as child rape, we cannot let theatre fall under this bubble of ignorance.

It’s a case of ‘if we ignore the problem long enough, hopefully it will go away’.

No. Rape is not going away, regardless of how much we ignore it. In fact, the more we ignore it, the more it becomes a norm in society.

Matric pupils are not children. They are on the verge of becoming young adults, and it is with them that change lies.

We can’t cover their eyes and hope they don’t see the ills of the world, because when the veil is lifted, they are going to be in shock and not know what the hell to do.

If we start addressing these issues at the age these matrics are, the more tools we give them to combat whatever we need to address.

Theatre doesn’t solve problems – not by a long shot. But what it does, as all art does – is provide awareness. Awareness, in turn, can lead to action.

With recent incidents of child rape and murder in Gauteng, questions like this are becoming more and more important.

How do we theatrically depict the rape of a child on stage?

It’s a simple question in Drama terms.

The subject of Drama has always pushed the envelope of what is acceptable, what is possible and what needs to be said. Especially the uncomfortable truths.

One of my questions back in school was ‘How do you depict domestic abuse without showing violence on stage?’

It’s a simple theatrical question, and something theatre practitioners need to know in order to make real societal issues real on stage so that people can see the truth.

Theatre cannot be all that revival nonsense. ABBA has its place, but we as a society cannot ignore the importance of art in social change, and we cannot ignore the fact that rape is an issue we have to deal with in every form possible.

And the creation of art can teach empathy - something we all seem to lack.

Some of those pupils who wrote that exam are going to get into theatre as a profession. They need to answer these difficult questions now, so that when they make their magnus opus, they can effectively deal with depicting something as real as rape on stage, so that they can open people’s eyes to the problem.

We should not be slating good educators for doing their job. We need to sort out the problem itself.

Why is a question like this necessary? It shouldn’t be, but because rape is a problem, we have to deal with it.

Start by dealing with the root of the problem before pointing fingers at an exam question.

Stop sticking your head in the sand and pulling wool over the public’s eyes and bloody well deal with rape itself.

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