New TV Series highlights ability of theatre to promote understanding of AIDS

UK charity S.A.F.E. will on 17th August 2012 feature in the first of two one-hour documentaries on ITV1: “Corrie Goes to Kenya”.

Coronation Street actor Sue Cleaver and S.A.F.E. actor Ali Mlatso perform together in Corrie Goes to Kenya

In these programmes, four Coronation Street actors work with the S.A.F.E. team in Kenya who use theatre to challenge the misinformation and ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS.

These programmes will take complex development issues and information about HIV/AIDS to a mainstream television audience in a visual and accessible way.

“Corrie Goes to Kenya” will also demonstrate the ability of the UK arts sector to raise awareness about complex international development issues.

This exclusive new two-part series sees four much-loved Coronation Street stars – Sue Cleaver, Ryan Thomas, Brooke Vincent and Ben Price – take a break from the cobbles of Weatherfield to work in an entirely difference context: bustling Mombasa, where they will work with S.A.F.E.’s Kenyan actors to spread information about HIV.

The episodes will follow the team as they create and perform a series of soap-like plays as street theatre in Coast Province. There will be moving scenes as the “Corrie” team visit villages and meet people suffering from HIV and AIDS.

They will also meet those whose lives have been changed thanks to S.A.F.E.’s accessible education through theatre, in a country where over 70,000 people lose their lives to the disease every year.

The S.A.F.E. team perform in Mombasa to educate community about HIV/AIDS

Actor and S.A.F.E. Patron Daniel Craig said: “Corrie Goes to Kenya highlights the excellent work that S.A.F.E. have been doing in Kenya for the last ten years. As an actor, I know how powerful great theatre can be, but S.A.F.E. go further: they use theatre to save lives. I’m delighted that more of the British public will now learn what S.A.F.E. achieves thanks to Coronation Street.”

Sarah Kennedy, S.A.F.E.’s Development Director, said: “Corrie Goes to Kenya highlights the continued stigma and misinformation that surrounds HIV/AIDS across Africa, as well as the difficulties in overcoming these challenges in a country where most people do not have access to a TV and only 85% of adults are literate. S.A.F.E. beats the odds by delivering life-saving information through accessible, mobile street theatre.”

S.A.F.E. Actor Aisha Mwajumlah, who features in the programmes, said: “It was a fantastic new experience to work with the “Corrie” actors. The idea of a theatre soap opera is revolutionary and we have to find a way to take all six ‘episodes’ of the play out to our community. We are so grateful and hope “Corrie” will return to act with us again in the future.”

Over two decades into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there remains in Kenya widespread discrimination and misinformation surrounding the disease. People die of ignorance, with little or no access to information about transmission, prevention or treatment.

Worldwide, there are 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS, and 22.5 million of those live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya has a population of 40.5 million with a national HIV prevalence rate of 6.3%.

Myths, superstitions and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS are especially rife in Coast Province, where “Corrie Goes to Kenya” was filmed. Some of the most disturbing misconceptions include that transmission is a result of witchcraft, and that a cure of HIV/ AIDS is by having unprotected sex with multiple uninfected partners or virgins.

After performances, S.A.F.E. and its partners deliver services such as HIV testing and counselling, condom demonstrations and distribution, and workshops with the most at risk. This model has significant impact: for example, S.A.F.E. has recorded a 76% increase in awareness of and willingness to use condoms after performances.

To deliver these educational performances costs just 88p per beneficiary and £2 a month can reach a family with lifesaving information about HIV/AIDS.

“Corrie Goes to Kenya” is a Shiver and ITV Studios production. The first episode will be aired at 9pm on ITV1 on Friday 17th August 2012.

More information about S.A.F.E.’s work can be found at www.safekenya.org.