Simoné Benjamin is a stage, screen and radio actress and the Corporate Affairs Specialist at Distell. With an Instagram handle aptly named Corporate Actress SA, her work with Distell sees her merging the corporate and arts sectors as she initiates, manages and supports various arts projects including the Distell National Playwright Competition, the Technical Training Programme at Artscape, the Amazink Live programme as part of Woordfees and the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, to name a few. As a performer, she has featured as the titular character in the radio drama Die Verdwyning van Mina Afrika as well as it’s sequel Die Tuiskoms van Mina Afrika. Simoné was most recently seen on screen in the short film Janneman, which debuted at this year’s Silwerskermfees. Continue reading
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 Tour. She 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.
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 SA. She 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 Festival. Debbie 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.
Ilse Klink is an award-winning actor, singer and television personality. She is best known for the role of Vanessa Booysens on the daily soap, Isidingo. Her stage credits include Mamma Mia!, Rent, Chicago, Show Boat, Menopause -The Musical, Kristalvlakte, Scorched and Caeser, to name a few. She has graced South African television screens by appearing in Roer Jou Voete, iNkaba, 7de Laan and Broken Vows. Her movie credits include Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story, Cold Harbour, Dis ek, Anna and Stroomop for which she was recently awarded a 2019 SAFTA Golden Horn for Best Supporting Actress. Ilse is currently treading the boards as Mama Morton in Chicago, a role she has returned to for the third time, a decade after she played it last. Continue reading
Adele Blank is a choreographer, dance instructor and Director of Free Flight Dance Company, which she formed in 1987. She has trained, performed, choreographed and taught extensively in classical ballet and contemporary dance both locally and abroad. Since the beginning of the millennium, Adele’s artistic reach has extended far beyond the realm of dance. She has been responsible for numerous local and international TV adverts, movies, operas, fundraisers and a host of industrial theatre productions. Whilst coaching and teaching, she has created for many companies and is very involved in community and outreach programmes. Adele is a recipient of the Arts & Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award for Dance. We sat down to chat with her about devoting her life to dance and directing her latest project, Blue Violin, which will be performed at Artscape for a limited run. Continue reading
Lee-Ann van Rooi is an actor, educator, producer and director. This year marks Lee-Ann’s silver jubilee in the South African professional entertainment industry. With numerous awards, nominations and credits stretching over the various mediums of Film, TV, Stage and Radio, both locally and internationally, this UCT graduate’s interests and skills are wide-ranging, innovative and resourceful. A keen storyteller, puppeteer, teacher, mentor, writer, producer and director, she is particularly interested in growing and creatively educating audiences and the entertainment industry in a responsible and fair way. Lee-Ann has recently been nominated for two awards at this year’s upcoming Fiëstas Awards. She is nominated as Best Actress for her work in Ingrid Winterbach’s Ons is almal Freaks Hier and for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Chase Rhys’ Kinnes. She is currently gearing up to star as The Duchess of York in Richard III which will begin performances at Maynardville open-air theatre in February.
Claire Taylor is an actor, singer, dancer and voice artist. Her select credits include West Side Story, Rock of Ages (Naledi nomination), Dirty Dancing, Sunset Boulevard and Cabaret, for which she was nominated for a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award. She has worked in theatres and countries all over the world including Australia, Italy, China and the USA. She has also featured on various local and international voice campaigns. Claire is the founder and director of a promotional and events staffing agency, and experiential entertainment company, Promotiv, which she launched in January 2018. She is currently starring as Mrs Wormwood in the South African premiere of Matilda. Continue reading
Mariëtte Opperman began dancing at the age of seven. She trained under Paula Olivier and later did an intensive vocational study with Martin Schönberg. She started her professional career in 2008 at the South African Ballet Theatre. She joined Cape Town City Ballet in 2010, where she is currently a senior soloist. Mariëtte also performed professionally in Stockholm, Sweden for a year. Her most memorable roles to date include the Black Swan in Swan Lake, Diane in Diane and Acteon, Kitri in Don Quixote, Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker, Firebird in Firebird, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Giselle in Giselle. She is currently gearing up to take on the titular role in Veronica Paeper’s production of Cinderella for Cape Town City Ballet.
Carmen Pretorius is a Naledi and Fleur du Cap nominated musical theatre and television actress, qualified makeup artist and presenter. After getting her professional start by winning the televised High School Musical competition, she went on to star in notable productions including Mamma Mia, Footloose, Jersey Boys and most recently The Sound of Music, which sees her taking on the role of Maria. We sat down with Carmen, ahead of the final week of the production, to chat about her “metamorphic” journey with the show.
Ukhona Ntsali Mlandu is an Arts Manager, Curator and Facilitator. During the last few years she has worked alongside some of South Africa’s leading arts institutions and organisations including Artscape where she spent several years heading up their Resource Center, PANSA, FTH:K and Siyasanga Cape Town Theatre Company before going on to become an independent Arts Manager. She has launched her latest project makwande.republic, a residency program set in the heart of her hometown village in the Eastern Cape. We sat down with her to chat about moving back home, creating makwande.republic and having to coin a new phrase to encompasses her multi-faceted career.