A Muizenberg cultural centre gives children the opportunity of a lifetime, allowing them to assume the role of a thespian and nurture their passion for acting.Fondazione Labia, the charitable arm of the Casa Labia Cultural Centre, recently began a collaboration with non-profit organisation (NPO), Circle Productions, to bring the joy of theatre and performance to 15 learners of Westlake Primary School.The children are aged eight to 12, with one member having spontaneously joined the group at the tender age of six.“We started it about a month or two back,” says Azola Mkosana, cultural manager at the centre. “It happens once a week, and at the moment they are in the process of being trained with the whole idea to do a showcase at the end of this year. “Initially, the learners didn’t really know about the stage, or knew very little, and now they are getting their training for the show.”Fondazione Labia works closely with the NPO to support the advancement of performance arts in South Africa; in particular, underserved communities.The NPO offers the children a flexible drama programme that is run by a collaboration of seasoned community theatre actors and directors.It is under the direction of Coleen van Staden and Celia Musikanth, both award-winning community theatre performers and directors, that the children are trained, educated and taught their new drama skills.Van Staden says the children were chosen by the school and have thus far enjoyed the training provided by Circle Productions. “It’s been fantastic. The kids have responded so well. “Being in the industry for over 30 years, we know how to work with people who don’t have formal training, and who want to get on a stage, so we are excited to see them every week and they’re so excited to see us.” she says. “Last week we brought in some dancers from Muizenberg High School and we taught the kids a dance to a song by Brenda Fassie,” she adds. According to Van Staden, the programme doesn’t only benefit people who want to become actors, it also has benefits for people looking to enhance themselves.“We help them with life skills like their confidence and finding their personal voice. What we try to do is get them excited about the joy of performance and the skills they can use from performance in their everyday lives,” she explains.V For more information on the Fondazione Labia, visit www.fondazionelabia.org.V For more information on Circle Productions, visit circleproductions.co.za.