Launched in 2005 by the Educational Theatre Company of the Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management at Stellenbosch University, Lucky the Hero! is a 30-minute musical theatrical performance presented in Afrikaans and English, and mostly as a combination of both languages. The main objectives of the show are to: increase general HIV knowledge levels, encourage safer sexual practices, combat discrimination and stigma, and promote HIV testing.
According to the Educational Theatre Company, the performance uses music, dance, and drama to communicate key messages about HIV/AIDS in a way that is entertaining and easy for rural audiences to understand. The play traces the journey of a young man, Lucky, who becomes aware of his risky behaviour through information he hears on a radio programme. He takes the brave step to be tested and then has to face the consequences. After revealing his status to his best friend, who then tells the whole community, he is ostracised by his community. Based on information given to Lucky when he calls in anonymously to a radio station, he comes to realise that his life still has great value. He disguises himself as "Captain AIDS fighter" and informs the community about the disease in an attempt to change their thinking. His intervention, focused on several aspects of sexual behaviour, with community members leads to his acceptance back into the community.
The initial intended audiences for the performance lived on farms in the greater Stellenbosch area, where organisers say HIV/AIDS knowledge levels were very low and where illiteracy and geographic isolation provide additional problems. Having been trained as peer educators, the actors also serve as role models in promoting positive living and in eradicating the stigma that is still associated with HIV/AIDS.
In addition, the play was written in such a way that it includes a monitoring and evaluation protocol, so that its effect and success as an educational tool can be measured.
Approximately 25,000 people have been reached by Lucky the Hero! Feedback shows that the play has been well received; in general, organisers say people are better informed and are more motivated to do something about HIV/AIDS-related matters after completing the monitoring and evaluation protocol. Following one production, approximately 60% of the more than 2,000 participants/audience members went for an HIV test.
Presidency of South Africa, the Futures Group, the Health Policy Initiative (with funding from the United States Agency for International Development - USAID), the Signature Trust of British American Tobacco South Africa, Broadway Cares, and the Belgian embassy.