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Photographs by Mark Straw and The Trinity Session

Diepsloot, a post-apartheid township in the north of Johannesburg, has been subject to a phased environmental upgrade funded by the Johannesburg Development Agency and facilitated by The Trinity Session and Sticky Situations.

This process proved most unique as poetry was used to drive performance in the first phase of the upgrade in June 2011. “I love Diepsloot”, a poem written by a young girl during the first workshops, brought the streets of the township to life as dogs, chickens, owls, rabbits and more, poignantly illustrated the reality of living in Diepsloot.

The first phase of the process saw the poem come to life as performers from the township took on the characters described in the poem. In costumes made from recycled materials, the performers took to the streets of Diepsloot, leading an elaborate procession of song and dance that swept the crowd up and created a momentum for the rest of the project.

The second phase of the upgrade saw the poem and performance as basis for sculpture. Here the chickens, rabbits, butterflies etc. physically manifested as large-scale sculptures adorning the entrance to the Muzomuhle Primary School in the northern extension of the township.

A large element of both the workshops and performance that took place in the first phase and the workshop and sculptures that were implemented in the second phase, was the use of recycled materials.

On Sunday, 18 November 2012, the streets of Diepsloot were again awakened with the characters from the poem as the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network (DACN) facilitated a launch performance/procession for the sculptures. The DACN were an integral part of the entire process—drawing together performers and artists of all ages from the community.

This performance saw a small group of dedicated, passionate actors ranging from high school learners to more seasoned performers attest to many months of hard work. This group will again adopted the characters from the poem, illustrating the hardships of life in Diepsloot. Yet more than that, the performance illustrated the tangible hope and drive that characterises this particular town