#AfriGram – A Story of South African Millennials

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This year saw Durban High School re-introducing a beautiful and esteemed tradition, in their annual school show. I have memories of being a young teenage girl, travelling through to Durban to watch the DHS production, and now a good 10+ years on, I have had the privilege of directing what will hopefully be one of many DHS productions.
After chatting to the school boys, I wanted this production to be something the boys associated with strongly and were passionate about, so a combination of social media and South African music felt like a good start. Together with the expertise of local actress and singer, Liesl Coppin, #AfriGram was conceptualized and written. After a few auditions, we were left with a cast of 35 talented, enthusiastic and vivacious teenagers, all eager to start on a journey, one which very few knew too much about. Yet, they trusted in us, and took the mammoth task, head on.
Eight weeks of rehearsals, on top of their sporting and academic commitments, proved tough for our cast, but I am so incredibly proud to say that we had an almost 100% attendance rate, without having to beg and plead. Our cast were committed and so incredibly loyal to the vision I had.
Girls from Crawford College, Eden College, Camelot College, Our Lady of Fatima, Holy Family College and Northlands Girls’, graced the stage and joined our boys in creating something truly magical.
I have worked in a professional environment within this industry for many years, where a certain work ethic and commitment is expected, but never did I think I would experience this same ethic within a school with a group of relatively inexperienced teenagers … did they have a lesson for me!
From singing to dancing, to acting as old ladies and gentlemen, these teens stepped up and not only accepted the challenge, but made it their own, put their stamp on it and ended up creating a show that captured the essence of not only DHS, but of the Youth of South Africa. A culturally diverse, compassionate, accepting, aware and energetic youth …. a youth with lessons for us all.
Having opened their show on Heritage day, 24 September, we all felt excited and proudly South African and proudly DHS.
The show ran for three nights, and each night the cast seemed to get better and better, starting to really enjoy the process as well as revelling in the applause and support shown.
A highlight for me was, following the last show, walking into the boys’ dressing room to give final instructions, and finding them huddled together singing the national anthem. We indeed have a special School filled with incredible and proud boys.
I feel incredibly grateful for this show, in as much as it was a mammoth task, the rewards of working with this cast, seeing them learning to enjoy the stage and the concept of entertainment, sharing a passion that is so close to my heart with them, this was without doubt the highlight of my year.
Leigh Meyer
Director and Choreographer
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