Powerful monologues by Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy

Playing with pain: Children turning trauma to drama
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(CNN)Kgopotso Mere is honest about his dark periods: his father's death and the chaos that followed.

"I lost focus on my life. I thought my mother didn't care about me, so I ended up deciding maybe suicide was the best solution," he admitted before an auditorium in the rural South African town of Rammulotsi.
His words were recently echoed across the globe, in London's Royal Court Theatre, in fact, where a troupe of Hollywood A-listers -- including Nicole Kidman, James McAvoy, Kit Harington and Benedict Cumberbatch --performed monologues written by Mere and his classmates.
    Ranging in age from 13 to 17, these school children have witnessed many of life's most trying experiences. They are learning to process their pain in dramatic workshops hosted by a non-profit called Dramatic Need.
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    "We don't make plays, we use plays to help people," notes Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu, a playwright and the group's regional operation manager. He works with the participants to help them voice themselves through monologue.
    "All the children are invited to write about a good day or a bad day in their life. Their scripts are taken to professional writers, who play around and dramatize them and we then cast those who can act to come and do the performances," he says.
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    Many of the children involved say the project has had a profound, and positive, effect on them.
    "I have learned how to discover my emotions, how to speak to people, how to be with people," says student Mothobi Dikoko, whose monologue was read on stage by Benedict Cumberbatch this year when Dramatic Need teamed and the Royal Court Theatre, which staged the monologues in a one-night-only performance.
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    "These children have had the most unimaginable extremes of lives forced at them and in their innocence," notes Cumberbatch.
    "To some extent, art can help with that. Telling your story is a way of compartmentalizing that pain, of being able to objectify and understand it more and also distance yourself from it and heal."
    Amber Sainsbury, the founder of Dramatic Need, is hoping the performance resonated as strongly with the audience.
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    "What we are hoping from the audience is that they'll come along -- obviously wanting to see their favorite movie stars -- but will come away with a really direct and true sense of what these children are going through," she says.
    Proceeds from the evening went to fund an art center and involve more local children in the project.