South African Women’s Arts Festival 2015

August is Women’s Month and there’s no better way to honour the struggles, sacrifices and successes of women than at the Playhouse in Durban. Feast yourself on the fine drama, dance, dialogue, music and entertainment on offer at the annual Playhouse Company’s SA Women’s Festival (SAWAF).

This year’s festival takes on added significance as 2015 has been named the African Union’s year on women empowerment and the Playhouse Company is proud to be playing its own critical role in the whole campaign.

Playhouse CEO and Artistic Director, Linda Bukhosini says she is excited about the eclectic mix at SAWAF this year. “Audiences will be inspired and entertained by a host of powerful, award-winning stage productions, some of which have enjoyed critical and phenomenal acclaim both here and abroad.

“Add to this mix a mouth-watering programme of dance dramas, a gala concert featuring some of the biggest names in the music business, slam poetry, musical entertainment, a children’s theatre day, panel discussions, and you have a festival that caters for a wide variety of tastes and all members of the family.

“The festival will focus very sharply and purposefully on the issues that impact on the advancement and empowerment of women, and the role women continue to play in our new democracy.”

Here’s a selection of what theatre-goers can look forward to from August 14 to 22.

  • A Woman in Waiting by Thembi Mtshali a powerful biographical journey into the dark heart of what life was like for women in apartheid South Africa. It uses visual imagery, song, chanting and evocative action to relate an emotive and compelling story that is so much a part of the fabric of our history. The show is directed by Yaël Farber.
  • Santa’s Story is another production to pencil for the festival. Coming straight from a highly successful run in New York, where the play featured in the First International Folksbiene Yiddish Festival in June, it’s a moving, one woman show depicting Santa Pelham’s journey of courage, inspiration and hope. It is a story enacted by her daughter, award-winning singer Aviva Pelham who has distinguished herself in several starring roles in opera, operetta, musicals and concerts both locally as well as in London, Paris and Israel.
  • Fishers of Hope a relatively new South African play by multi award winning writer/director, Lara Foot who explores the meaning of hope in the African continent. It received such rave reviews in the media when performed in Cape Town that one critic hailed it as a production “that sets a precedent to local theatre which will be hard to match”. This is traditional African story-telling at its best, mixed with dance, music and video projections.

SAWAF festival also provides several opportunities like the intergenerational dialogue with Leeanda Reddy, Llianne Loots, Estelle Sinkins and Lebo Mashile as the facilitator. The dialogue will deliberate on the topic glamorising the performing arts – the responsibility of artists versus the celebrity fad and why sexual violence and violence against women and girls are so prevalent on stage television and Movies?

A special treat is in store for music lovers who attend the Gala Concert which features a predominantly women orchestra with a full female choir, Maskandi and Umbaqanga. The line-up includes some of the country’s finest musical talent, including Thandiswa Mazwai, Mahotella Queens, Sally Silver, Xolisa Dlamini, Vumile Mngoma and Khanyo Maphumulo.

The Playhouse Dance Residency will be performing their award winning piece If The World Was Listening on Saturday, August 22 at 7 pm. This period styled piece presents a story gallery of life journeys of adversity and the discovery of links in human connection. Based on the personal stories of the company, choreographer Sandile Mkhize finds subtle links between each visualised narration and giving voice to caged truths.

An Open Mic and Slam Poetry Session with Thuli Zuma and Bongani Mavuso will give poets the chance to share their stories through the art of poetry, covering a wide range of contemporary issues. This event will include a Sundowner Concert with Khanyo Maphumulo.

In an effort to curb the high rates of violence against women, and thereby promoting gender equity, this year SAWAF will also include a workshop promoting this very cause. The workshop will include a panel discussion of key male figures within the gender based violence sector.

The members of the audience will also largely be male participants as the idea is to have men talk to other men about this issue with the hope of them ultimately committing to take action against violence on women as a collective.

The workshop will be facilitated by DramAide using the Brothers for Life campaign under the theme, ‘Men Standing Against Violence on Women.’ This workshop takes place on August 14 at 2 pm.

The Playhouse will also be hosting a Parenting Workshop on August 22. Amongst the speakers will be Zama Mabaso, director of Family and Marriage South Africa (FAMSA), Paddy Kearney, Hlengiwe Mgabadeli and Cookie Edwards.

Also on the 22nd is a theatre day for children, which boasts loads of entertainment to keep them occupied with activities like drumming, mask-making, face painting and dancing.

And there is a High Tea for all women in the arts with the Playhouse CEO and Artistic Director Linda Bukhosini as the facilitator and Michelle Constant the CEO from Business Arts South Africa as the keynote speaker.

For more information about the festival visit or the Facebook page: DurbanPlayhouse. The Festival hotline number is 031 369 9456.

All bookings are through Computicket or through the Playhouse box office at 031 369 9540/9596. Special discounted parking is available for all Playhouse patrons at the Albany/ Royal Hotel parking.


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