A Conversation with Siphokazi Jonas

Siphokazi Jonas is a writer, performer, and poet. She has written, produced, and performed in four one-woman poetry shows. She wrote, produced and performed in a multi-genre theatre production, Around the Fire, which was staged at the 2016 Artscape Spiritual Festival and the 2018 Women’s Humanity Festival. Her stage work includes Natalia da Rocha’s Adam Small Festival and Mandla Mbothwe’s Oratorio of a Forgotten Youth. In 2018, she presented her directorial debut, The Widow, as part of Artscape’s New Voices programme. The production returns to the Artscape Arena at the beginning of August 2019. Jonas has been a featured act at numerous poetry sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Her experience with spoken word has led to multiple invitations to judge poetry slam competitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She has also performed with renowned musicians including, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies and Dave Reynolds. Jonas made history in 2016 as the first African poet to perform at Rhetoric in California. In February 2019 she was also a headline act on the first ever South African national poetry tour, the Fresh Poetry TourShe was crowned as the first Cape Town Ultimate Slam Champion in 2015 and was the runner-up in the prestigious 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, coming second out of 600 poems submitted nationally. Her work was longlisted again in 2017.

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A Conversation with Carin Bester

Carin Bester is a performance artist, actress, set designer and art director who has been working in the film, television and theatre industry for the past 10 years. In 2015, Carin performed her first performance art piece Verlies. She was drawn to performance art because of its immediacy and honesty. She views it as a medium in which she can express herself freely as she interrogates issues of social importance effectively. In 2017, she did My Body My Life, a performance installation which took the statistics of gender-based violence in South Africa directly to the viewer. Since then she has done various other pieces about gender-based violence in South Africa. Currently, she is experimenting with documentation of performance elements to create print and video art. A piece called Dress of Remembrance, which was worn on August 1st 2018 as part of the #TheTotalshutdown March against gender-based violence to Parliament, has been included in an exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum. Cape Town audiences recently saw Carin’s set design featured in Figure of 8 Dance Collective’s Wag/Waiting which debuted at the Baxter TheatreShe will be performing a new piece Till Death Do Us Part this August as part of the Vavasati International Women’s Festival at The State Theatre in Pretoria.

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A Conversation with Amra-Faye Wright

Amra-Faye Wright is an award-winning actress best known for portraying Velma Kelly in Chicago the Musical, both on Broadway, London’s West End and in international tours. She trained extensively as a classical and jazz dancer and began her career performing in the Spectacular Musical Revues at Sun City. She spent the following years developing her skills in many musical genres and obtained a diploma in Contemporary Music at Allenby College in Johannesburg, which has resulted in a versatile and eclectic performance style. After starring in Viva Sun City at Sun City Theatre, Amra-Faye left for Monte Carlo where she performed as lead artist in the world famous Cabaret du Casino for two years. Her gift for story-telling led her to write, and perform her first one-woman revue, Rouge Pulp, which enjoyed a sellout season and prompted her to write Drinks on Me and It’s Not Where I Start. In 2005, she was awarded the Naledi Theatre Award and the Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for her performance in the South African production of ChicagoContinue reading

A Conversation with Shelley Lothian

Shelley Lothian is an award-winning choreographer, director, singer, actress and dancer. Her performance credits include The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Boys in the Photograph, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, Show Boat and Cabaret. She directed Chef, Rattle and Roll; The Purr Factory and Maybe Baby It’s You. She served as Resident Director on Janice Honeyman’s Show Boat, Matthew Wild’s Cabaret and West Side Story; David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa and District Six- Kanala, and most recently King Kong with Jonathan Munby at the Fugard Theatre. She was also Associate Director on the international musical Tiger Bay. She has choreographed various productions including The King and I, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, District Six- Kanala and Sneeuwitjie. Shelley’s other choreographic credits include My Fair Lady; Chef, Rattle and Roll and Liefling – all of which received Naledi Theatre Award nominations, as well as Fiddler on the Roof and The Pirates of Penzance which both won the Naledi Theatre Award for Best Original Choreography. She is currently starring in the Fugard Theatre’s production of Kinky Boots where she also serves as Resident Director.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Swan Song Takes Flight

During our conversation with storyteller Buhle Ngaba in 2017, she spoke about winning the Brett Goldin Bursary and creating her show, Swan Song during her time at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now, almost three years later and after a successful developmental and award-winning run at the Klein Karoo National Festival in 2017, Swan Song has its eyes firmly focused on Vrystaat Kunstefees. Prior to its run, Buhle has launched Going For A Song, an art auction with a difference, making a difference to make art accessible. At the auction which will take place at the Book Lounge on July 1st, bidders will raise funds to get Swan Song on stage in front of a wider audience. On the night, it’ll be chosen at random and announced to guests which items will be up for auction – sold, to the highest bidder! – and which will be raffled. This split is symbolic of what Buhle hopes to do with Swan Song, and her wider body of work: to democratise art in a way that allows accessible participation and an easy buy-in to art that maintains its value. Those purchasing ‘tickets’ will do so at a fixed cost and post them into the “bidding box” beside each artwork to stand a chance to make it their own. In celebration of the upcoming auction, Buhle writes about the evolution of Swan Song Continue reading

A Conversation with Debbie Turner

In October 2018, Debbie Turner was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Cape Town City Ballet. She founded the Cape Academy of Performing Arts in 1985 and went on to become the founding Artistic Director of the Cape Dance Company in 1995. Recently, she sat on the prestigious panel of judges for the inaugural 2018 season of M-Net’s Dancing With The Stars SAShe has won many awards for her choreography including the FNB Vita Award, and a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival for Cape Dance Company’s Blue. In addition, the school received a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival for Bittersweet in 2013, which resulted in the production of Between The Lines the following year on the Arena Programme and at the inaugural Cape Town Fringe FestivalDebbie is committed to restoring, revitalising and aligning South African dance with the 21st Century global trends of performance through sustainable, multi-pronged approach to performance excellence, diverse repertory relevant to current times, dance education, and professional development of dancers while preserving the traditions of classical ballet and academic dance in general.

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A Conversation with Toni Jean Erasmus

Toni Jean Erasmus is an actress, singer and stunt performer. After completing her degree at Pretoria Technikon and spending a few years working professionally, she set off to study in the UKAmong her training, she branched out into some new sports and discovered that stunts could be a legitimate job. She added new levels to her training by attending film action courses through the British Action AcademyUpon returning to Cape Town, she was cast as Sister Mary Robert in the South African premiere of Sister Act the MusicalIt was on moving to Cape Town that her focus moved more towards film and television, returning to Joburg once more to perform in Saturday Night Fever at the State TheatreShe has slowly built up her stunt and acting resume in a variety of international TV shows and movies filmed in Cape Town; from epic zombie deaths in Resident Evil and Maze Runner to reenactment crime shows, to the lead bad guy in the upcoming movie Camp Getaway.

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A Conversation with Ann Juries-May

Ann Juries-May is an actress, presenter and voiceover artist who is currently starring as Claudia Cupido on KykNet en KIE’s telenovela, ArendsvleiIn 2018, she starred in Tara Notcutt’s historic production of The Taming of the Shrew at Maynardville, which resulted in her Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nomination for her performance. On screen, she was recently seen in a Showmax crime series, Die Byl and stars in the highly anticipated Afrikaans Feature film ‘n Ander Mens, which will be released later this year. Her theatrical career has seen her collaborate with The Magnet Theatre Clanwilliam Arts Project, The McGregor Youth Arts Project and arepp: Theatre for Life. In 2014, Ann moved to Vietnam, where she dedicated her time to studying the martial arts form of Vovinam. She is also a founding member of the Hai Phong Youth Theatre, where she held weekly drama and movement workshops. Returning to South Africa in 2016, she is also a seasoned voiceover artist. Her work includes radio and television commercials, animation and public service announcements.

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A Conversation with Lungiswa Plaatjies

Lungiswa Plaatjies is a musician, singer and composer. Born and raised in Langa Township in Cape Town, she started singing at the age of eight years old before becoming the lead vocalist of Amampondo. She has toured extensively around the world and released her first solo album, Lungiswa, in 2000. After spending time digging deeper into the foundation stones of African music and Xhosa dance (Umxhentso), Lungiswa released her second solo album, Unonkala produced by Don Laka. In 2002, she was nominated for Best Newcomer and Best Female Vocalist at the SAMA awards and was also nominated for two Kora awards. Since 2015, she has been working with Bos Theatre Productions from The Netherlands on an annual musical show called South African Road Trip. Her select theatre credits include; Heart of Redness, The Tempest for the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Flower of Shembe. Lungiswa can currently be seen on stage as the featured musician in Kunene and the King at the Fugard Theatre

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A Conversation with Naledi Majola

Naledi Majola is an actor, performance-maker and sound designer. In 2018, she was seen on stage in Tara Notcutt’s historic all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew and in Stream, a multimedia performance work led by Jennifer Steyn at the Baxter Theatre. She makes her feature film debut later this year in The Banana Splits. Her performance work, Where is the black samurai? debuted at Arcade, a durational live art platform curated by Gavin Krastin, and was most recently performed at the 2018 ICA Live Art Festival. Naledi also designs sound for performance, having recently done so for her own work, as well as AMES, written and directed by Andi Colombo in 2018 and the upcoming production of Tales from the Garden written by Ameera Conrad, which will run at the Baxter Theatre’s Masambe Theatre followed by a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later this year.
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