THROUGH INTIMATE STORY-TELLING, DRAMATIC NEED BROUGHT DEEPLY PERSONAL STORIES TO LIFE IN A UNIQUE THEATRICAL EVENT WITH AN EXCLUSIVE FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN TO MATCH.
Dramatic Need is a creative arts charity working in rural areas of Rwanda and South Africa to empower vulnerable and suffering children through drama and visual arts. In 2010, the charity held a unique theatrical event – The Children’s Monologues – that shared the deeply personal stories of South African children on a stage. Invited to describe a day they will never forget, the monologues retell the stories of young people expressing personal experiences in their own words, in their native Sesotho language.
The event was directed by Danny Boyle and performed by the stellar cast in London and Rammulotsi township, simultaneously for one night only.
In 2015, director Danny Boyle brought together an entirely new all-star cast and a brand new script to celebrate the five-year anniversary of The Children’s Monologues. Based on the testimony of over 200 South African children, and adapted by some of the best playwrights in South Africa and the UK, including Sir David Hare, Jack Thorne and Neil LaBute.
The monologues were performed at the Royal Court Theatre by some of the finest acting talent, including James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.
In South Africa the children themselves performed the monologues on the same night. Our brief was to raise awareness of the event – and help raise funds for a new arts centre in South Africa.
The obvious move would have been to scale up, holding it somewhere bigger and potentially over more dates. However, we felt that to retain its magic we needed to turn the task on its head and go smaller, achieving a more intimate and exclusive fundraising gathering. We suggested to host an event with only a limited number of premium tickets available.
To match the restricted number of tickets, we felt that everything should take the form of a limited edition with design elements for the performance to be crafted and hand-embossed and numbered.
This new edition of The Children’s Monologues was set to tell stories of 15 children, adapted by 15 writers and acted by 15 film and theatre stars. Building on this theme, we chose to add another tier and invite 15 artists to create unique artworks inspired by the monologues.
We sent out a brief to each artist, along with a narrative and a profile headshot of the child whose testimony had inspired the script. The results were delightfully varied, and we created a run of limited edition, hand-embossed and numbered prints, which served as tickets to the event. Artists including Tom Gauld, Hormazd Narialwella and Quentin Jones, diverse in style and approach, all submitted their artworks that crucially provided a way to bring the children into the performance.
On the night, while each monologue was performed, the image based on that child’s story was shown on stage.
And instead of a traditional programme of the event, we created a set of limited edition books, with the full text of all monologues and the artworks inspired by them. The original artworks were auctioned on the night, raising over £100,000 for Dramatic Need, far exceeding the charity’s ambition.
“The Partners helped us introduce our small charity to a big audience, marketing a gala event while remaining true to our grassroots. The team went above and beyond, playing a huge part in shaping the creative character of the event.
We would work with them again in an instant, and are proud to count them as supporters of Dramatic Need.”
AMBER SAINSBURY, CEO