“A Dog’s Life” gets kids humming

Puppet Show

For the past five days, the Masque Theatre has been packed to the rafters with chattering, excited learners – many of them paying their first ever visit to a “proper” arthouse, complete with dimmed lights and swishing curtains.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Jungle Theatre Company (JTC) have been collaborating for more than 10 years to bring educational theatre to Cape Town’s premier community venue. Through their Twinnings project, IFAW and JTC help to spread awareness on animal welfare issues to those in one of South Africa’s three capital cities.

This year IFAW and JTC decided to present “A Dog’s Life,” one of JTC’s first productions for IFAW and one of its most loved.

The play is a heartwarming, funny and interactive production that incorporates innovative puppetry, beautiful singing and audience participation. “A Dog’s Life” is the story of a homeless dog and a lonely homeless boy and their struggle to survive in the city. Through dance and song, John and his dog Angel tackle many obstacles and highlight the day-to-day needs of domestic animals.

Over the years, our Twinnings project has exposed more than 15,000 people to performances on animal and social welfare issues, ranging from dog fighting and responsible pet ownership, to stories about elephants that are rooted in Africa’s ancestral past. The project focuses on bringing together youngsters from different social backgrounds to learn, play and interact with each other. Schools from more advantaged communities are encouraged to sponsor, or “twin-up” with disadvantaged schools to support their attendance.

However, the learning doesn’t end at curtain call. Before departing, each youngster receives a gorgeous decorated story card, which is used as a classroom teaching aid. The cards are produced in the local languages of Afrikaans, Xhosa and English. Additionally, IFAW provides exercises and feedback forms so teachers are able to bring these lessons into the classroom and foster a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the play.

It’s theatre with a real heart. With every performance, children leave for home singing and humming the theme song ‘What Does a Happy Dog Have,” and emerging as the next generation of animal lovers.

--LCH

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Experts

Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project