Guest Post: The Chronicles of an Independent Theatre-Maker

In 2018 during our interview with theatre-maker Dara Beth, we spoke about the return engagement of her play, Nasty Womxn. Now, 18 months later, Nasty Womxn is back for its third return engagement, this time featuring a new cast, a reworked script and coinciding with Dara’s latest theatrical offering, The Chronicles of Athena, Babes. Tasked with staging two independently produced works which almost run concurrently, we ask Dara to share her thoughts around this creative process.   Continue reading

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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 Olivia Fischer

Olivia Fischer is an award-winning playwright, director and producer. After graduating with her degree in theatre and performance, specialising in theatre-making from the University of Cape Town, Olivia premiered Still at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles, CA. Still was awarded five Hollywood Fringe awards including Tvolution’s Best International Show and the Conversation Creation award. In 2018, Olivia opened a production company called LIV Studios, a company that aims to develop female-identifying playwrights and theatre-makers. Olivia is a published writer: her autobiographical monologue Coming For You was recently published in the Market Laboratory’s anthology Between the Pillar and the Post: an anthology of South African monologues and scenes. Her other theatre credits include writing and directing an adaptation of Sindiwe Magona’s The Cruel King Lives! called Thandiwe: The Loved One and directed Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs. Her main focus as she continues to grow as a theatre-maker is telling stories of womxn: their resilience, their strength but above all, their undeniable capacity to love.

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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

A Conversation with Tessa Denton

Tessa Denton is an actor, director, choreographer and designer. She was recently appointed to Gate69’s art department where she is tasked with creating the obscure, creative, daring and over the top wigs, headpieces, earrings and accessories. Over the years, she has created many looks for a variety of clients, whether it be with make-up, body paint, dress setting, sets, decor, props, wigs, accessories or even just conceptualising ideas events. As an actor, some of her TV credits include; Die Boekklub, Getroud met Rugby, Donkerland, Binnelanders7de Laan and Generations. Select theatre credits include; MisAltyd in my dromeThe Rocky Horror Show, GreaseThe Full Monty and Lady Macbeth in the adult pantomime Macbeth. Later this year she’ll be seen on stage in Mis in Johannesburg followed by two TV appearances in Fynskrif and Sara se Geheim. Currently, her wig designs can be seen on stage at Gate69 in their latest show, Non-Specific.

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A Conversation with Janni Younge

Janni Younge is a director and producer of multimedia, theatrical and visual performance works, with an emphasis on puppetry arts. Janni’s work has been performed widely internationally and she has gone on to be awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre, several Fleur du Cap awards for puppet design and the Nagroda award for direction. A former director of Handspring Puppet Company for four years, she currently runs Janni Younge Productions and concurrently directs UNIMA SA. Janni’s works include the creation and direction of Ouroboros which toured extensively in South Africa, Europe and India, The Firebird which toured in the USA and Take Flight, currently touring Europe. With Handspring, Janni also directed revivals of William Kentridge’s Woyzeck on the Highveld and Ubu and the Truth Commission and worked with Handspring on War Horse and on the Bristol Old Vic’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also created and directed puppetry for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Tempest.

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A Conversation with Adele Blank

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

A Conversation with Lukhanyiso Skosana

Lukhanyiso Skosana is an actress, performance artist, vocalist and theatre-maker. Her performing credits include Love Like Blue directed by Puleng Lange-Stewart, Khanyisile Mbongwa’s performance art piece kuDanger, Ndawo directed and written by Thapelo Tharaga and Nguvu Ya Mbegu directed by Mandla Mbothwe. To continue her collaborations with womxn of colour, she was in the dance piece Bana Ba Mobu choreographed by Tshegofatso Mabutla. She is in the continuous process of touring and reworking Womb Of Fire, a production written and performed by Rehane Abrahams and directed by Dr Sara Matchett for which she was recently awarded a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best Original Music Score. She continued her longtime collaboration with The MotherTongue Project by performing in their performance piece Walk in India at the ITFOK festival, at the National Arts Festival in 2018 and at Woordfees 2019. She recently choreographed her debut dance piece entitled Zinyile i’Queers and also participated in Body Politics in a durational Butoh piece titled UMGOWO. In 2018, Lukhanyiso made her directorial as well as playwriting debut with her graduation piece Inguquko

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A Conversation with Kanya Viljoen

Kanya Viljoen is a theatre-maker, performer and designer. Recently, Kanya wrote and directed RAAK, which debuted at the Vrystaat Kunstefees and was nominated as Best Production of the festival. Furthermore, it has been nominated for two Kyknet Fiësta Awards and is heading to US Woordfees 2019 for a limited run. Earlier this year, Kanya was awarded South African Theatre Magazine’s Best Emerging Director Award. In 2018, Kanya directed Like Hamlet, which was performed at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective as part of the Annex Theatre Bursary. Her script, mank, was selected for further development by Kunste Onbeperk’s Teksmark and she was awarded a writer’s bursary for this script. Currently, Kanya is an Andrew W Mellon scholar, completing her MA in theatre-making at the University of Cape Town.  

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A Conversation with Yvette Hardie

Yvette Hardie is a theatre director, producer, educator and advocate, focusing on theatre for young audiences. She initiated the launch of ASSITEJ SA in 2007 and leads the organisation as Director. She is currently serving her third term as President of the international ASSITEJ, which networks across 100 countries. In 2017, she was responsible for hosting the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress & Performing Arts Festival, Cradle of Creativity, for the first time in Africa. She produced the award-winning Colonnades Theatre Lab production, Truth in Translation, seen by 55 000 people worldwide. For her own company, FreeVoice Productions, she produces national and international tours of Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother. Her directing credits include Suzanne Lebeau’s The Ogreling and Mike van Graan’s Is it because I’m Jack? She is valued for her work in Arts Education, having written national curricula and textbooks for Dramatic/Creative Arts. Recently, she was awarded the Mickey Miner Award for Lifetime Achievement from IPAY for her contribution to theatre for young audiences locally and globally.

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