CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008
In the Freedom of Dreams: The Story of Nelson Mandela is a short but powerful piece of drama. Like the woman with no arms, Mandela is, himself, "the stuff of legends." Still, this play provides a sense of the man behind the legend, and in the play's first act, we come to know the young Mandela, son of a Xhosa warrior king. He is re-named "Nelson" when he attends a British school, and after the death of his father, is adopted by King Jongintaba, who educated him, mentored him, and let him "see up close how to rule." It is a rather privileged existence. However, Act 2 brings Mandela, now a young man, to Johannesburg, a very different place from the world just outside his home village. Johannesburg is the "real and brutal world of African men and women" where the young Mandela would have to dream new dreams if he were to achieve his hopes. He becomes a lawyer, an advocate for human rights; he also becomes a husband and a father. Later, as a result of his political activities, he becomes a fugitive and then a political prisoner. His marriage breaks down, his children grow up without him, and he experiences profound personal losses in the 27 years of his imprisonment. Still, he is sustained by his dreams, despite the mindlessness of life in prison and the monotony of its routine. Then, a dream is fulfilled: freedom comes at long last. The world has changed, and so has he, but he has triumphed and continues to work at "making this dream of freedom for [his] nation a reality for this world."
I was curious as to how a drama teacher might view this play and how it might be used in a drama class. Jenn Cuddy, who has assisted in the review of other items for CM, looked at In the Freedom of Dreams from the perspective of a drama teacher. She was favorably impressed with this short play and saw it as having a multiplicity of classroom applications.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB, where Jenn Cuddy is also a drama teacher.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.