14 August 2012
Posted in TV
Sarah Kennedy from the charity S.A.F.E. on the impact of a project developed with Coronation Street writer Damon Rochefort
(Photo: Coronation Street Actor Sue Cleaver performers with S.A.F.E. Actor Ali Mlatso on stage in Mombasa)
Writers and actors know that the power of drama can move people in ways that other forms of communication can’t: it makes people feel joyous or despondent; hopeful or despairing; it informs and entertains. But it is not often that the power of great acting and writing can be put to use in saving lives.
This Friday, 17 August, the first of two one-hour documentaries on ITV1 shows how that is possible. In Corrie Goes to Kenya, four Coronation Street actors work with S.A.F.E. in Kenya – a UK charity and Kenyan NGO that uses performing arts to educate, inspire and deliver social change. The programme follows their work using street theatre to challenge the stigma, misinformation and ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS and the episodes will follow the team as they create and perform a series of soap-like plays in Coast Province.
Corrie Goes to Kenya was conceived by Coronation Street writer Damon Rochefort after he became involved with S.A.F.E. in 2010. After seeing a screening of S.A.F.E.’s feature film Ndoto Za Elibidi, he travelled to Kenya to use his talents as a writer to help the team create a new HIV play. The experience was a profound one and Damon realised that, often, comedy is the most powerful tool in a writer’s box - and that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Reflecting on his time in Mombasa, Damon said: 'Lecturing solemnly to people about some pretty grim issues is one thing, but if you can create rounded characters and have them come into conflict in funny, unexpected ways, audiences will laugh and remember the messages that you bury within the plots. Through comedy, it’s possible to debunk some of the crazier myths that surround HIV, shining a light on them and encouraging the audiences to realize how daft these myths are'. The success of the visit and the play he had helped to create made him realise he wanted to take the Coronation Street team back to Mombasa with him to continue this work.
Corrie Goes to Kenya will demonstrate the close bonds that were formed between the Kenyan and UK teams and the powerful theatrical results. But also, and perhaps more importantly, the programmes will demonstrate the ability of the UK arts sector, including writers and actors, to raise awareness about complex international development issues in imaginative and unexpected ways.
Corrie Goes to Kenya is a Shiver and ITV Studios production. The first episode will be aired at 9pm on ITV1 on Friday 17 August 2012.
Read Damon Rochefort's original article about his work with S.A.F.E.
More about S.A.F.E. http://www.safekenya.org