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, Binnelanders, 7de Laan and Generations. Select theatre credits include; Mis, Altyd in my drome, The Rocky Horror Show, Grease, The 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni is a South African playwright, theatre director and performer. With a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Science, Philosophy and Dramatic Arts from Rhodes University and a Bachelor of the Arts (Hons) in Directing for Stage, Writing for Film and Avant-garde Film from the University of Cape Town, she attempts to make provocative work that deals with themes of violence, sexuality, race and history within a contemporary South African setting. As a playwright and director, her debut play, Sainthood has received a Standard Bank Ovation Award and a Fleur du Cap nomination and is the subject of her TEDxYouth Cape Town Talk, ‘Another Conversation for the Dinner Table?’. Following a successful run at the National Arts Festival and at Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Sainthood makes its way to the Baxter Theatre for a limited engagement.
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.
Gina Shmukler has been in the entertainment industry since she was six years old. In her career, her theatre work as an actress, director and producer, has garnered ten theatre nominations and four awards across different genres ranging from Mamma Mia and Chess, to Master Class and Silk Ties. In 2013, after completing her Master’s Degree in Drama at the University of Witwatersrand, Gina was the proud recipient of the Dr Sibongile Khumalo Creative Research Award. Her select directorial credits include; The Line, Lost in the Stars, Songs for a New World, The Market Theatre’s Brer Rabbit, Beautiful Creatures, Love: A Musical Revue, The Last Five Years and The Whole Megillah. Having taken a performance hiatus, Gina returned to the stage in 2017 in Mike van Graan’s Helen of Troyeville. At the end of 2018, she returned to her musical theatre roots by stepping into Aunty Merle the Musical, which makes its way to Joburg Theatre following three sold-out engagements in Cape Town.
Leila Henriques is an actor, writer, director and teacher. As an actress, she has starred in more than 30 productions. Some of her select stage credits include: Hedda Gabler, The Something Prince, Yerma, Red Shoes and The List. She has taught acting at various academic institutions across South Africa including Wits, AFDA and The Market Theatre Lab. Together with Irene Stephanou, she wrote the book The World in an Orange –exploring the work of Barney Simon published by Jacana, which was shortlisted for the Alan Paton award. Following a successful run at Woordfees earlier this year, she is currently starring in Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class directed by Sylvaine Strike at the Baxter Theatre. Continue reading