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A Brazilian theatre model meets Zulu performance conventions Westville prison – the case in point
In July 2002, Christopher Hurst supervised Mbongiseni Buthelezi, a postgraduate student in Drama and Performance Studies, who conducted a Prison Theatre project at the Medium B Prison (a men’s maximum security prison) at Westville Prison in Durban. Buthelezi used theatre workshop techniques to create a play that addressed expressions of prejudice towards inmates who are living with HIV/AIDS in the prison. The play re-imagined and utilised Zulu military conventions and combined them with the Brazilian Forum Theatre methods of Augusto Boal. This combination made it possible for the inmate audiences to articulate criticisms about the behaviour of prison staff and other inmates that would otherwise have been difficult in the prison context. The performance form was recognised as something altogether new by the Zulu male participants, particularly because of the negotiations of power occasioned by the performance.