DRAMA club students yesterday (Thursday, June 4) marked 30 years of the modern classic Journey to Jo’burg with a performance inspired by the book - once banned by South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Year 8 drama students at The Academy at Shotton Hall, in Peterlee, were joined by author Beverley Naidoo at at East Durham College's Lubetkin Theatre.
Year 7 students were there to share their Arts Award work about the book.
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The event comes as Seven Stories – Britain’s museum for children’s books in Newcastle – celebrates the acquisition of Naidoo’s archive.
The author grew up in South Africa under apartheid and her first children’s book, Journey to Jo’burg, was banned in South Africa until 1991.
She has gone on to have an impressive career, writing many award-winning books for children often exploring issues of racism, prejudice and diversity.
Naidoo said: “I’m lost for words, the students’ drama interpretation just shows the exciting journey a book makes. We need imagination to take us beyond our own experiences."
Managers at Seven Stories said they were delighted to acquire the archive, which “adds richness and diversity to the museum’s collection”.
Debbie Beeks, learning and participation manager, said: “Journey to Jo’burg and Beverley Naidoo’s archive are a valuable gift to the region and the nation.
“The partnership work with The Academy at Shotton Hall has revealed how relevant the story of apartheid is to young people today.
“Beverley’s archive is full of research material, drafts and letters from school students. Unearthing the story through this material has been an inspiration to students.”
Naidoo said: “For a long time I've known that I must do something about my papers.
“Over 40 years, files and folders spread through our house.
“I wanted a home for my work that would accommodate its different 'legs' - creative, activist, academic.
“The work forms an integral whole. I don’t doubt Seven Stories will use the archive to do more inspiring work through."