THE South African Theatre Season, presented by Drama for Life in partnership with Wits Theatre, Wits School of Arts and Wits Counselling, Careers and Development Unit, is back on home turf this year after a successful 2015 season at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Running from April 6 to 9 the season brings to its audiences the thought provoking theme of Forgotten Futures.
“In a fast changing world, where economic, environmental, digital and political forces collide, have we forgotten about the people who will determine the shape and nature of the future?,” says SA Season director, Benjamin Bell.
“Have the South African elders failed the youth? With movements like #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall, we are beginning to see young people tackle this problem head on and ask pertinent questions about the failure of the transformation agenda.
“The season aims to provide a serious platform to unpack, disrupt, discuss, rebuild and evaluate contemporary youth realities while providing opportunities for meaningful cross generational dialogue to take place. We’re creating a space where we can not only speak about change but be the forerunners of thought and practice with regard to youth development.”
The season takes the form of live theatre performances, films showings, live music and performance poetry by some of South Africa’s emerging young voices within the arts.
Theatre maker, Lidija Marelic, hot off her recent Naledi nomination (Cheers to Sarajevo), bring to the Season Nortasuna (Identity), a work-shopped theatrical performance.
Working with Drama for Life and Wits School of Arts performers, Nortasuna explores notions of South African identity by creating what Marelic terms the new South African folk tale.
“In a forgotten realm beneath the roots of an ancient tree, a village of fantastical creatures are forced to come to grips with the impending death of their world,” says Marelic.
“Each is torn between protecting the organic home which has sheltered them for millennia, and the natural impulses which set them apart. As the social order shuffles and reshuffles, as each seeks to do what is “right”, we begin to get glimpses of not only our own struggles, but also into the core of what is killing our nation slowly: fear.”
With lighting design by Julian August, set and costumes by Julian L. Kruger, Nortasuna promises to be a beautiful glimpse into our collective pasts while asking questions about the future of our South African identity.
Johannesburg-based writer and director, Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga, and talented actress, Ayanda Seoka, brings to Forgotten Futures, iMBOKODO (The Rock) – a work which asks “Who wants to be a f***ing feminist?”
In a world that makes it feel like a curse to declare that “I still believe in the equality of women”, Zama (Seoka) has tried and tried to join the upsurge of the latest feminist wave. She – a young woman – ideologically understands the reasoning behind the feminist theory and the feminist movement at large, but she cannot settle herself into the title of being a “feminist”.
“It is a fast-paced, brazen, tongue-in-cheek reflection of a young woman in a world full of fractured mirrors… and f-f-f-feminists!” says Msimanga.
Bell also dons the theatre maker hat for the season and in a collaboration with actors, Lebogang Mphahlele and Thulani Mtsweni, and choreographer, Billy Langa, we see the birth of Kasi Stories: Stories not Often Told.
The production offers up a question: What does it mean to be a South African Man? The black man, the young black poor man, is painted with the heaviest of brushes – the villain, the criminal, the rapist, the idol, the hero and the untrustworthy.
“The bad rap this substantial group of our population receives from the media works to reinforce crudely drawn stereotypes, we need to question that,” says Bell. “By negatively reinforcing these half-truths and whole lies, the young black male gets forgotten – but what of his story? Let us not dictate to him, let us not ignore him until it’s too late.”
Kasi Stories: Stories not Often Told aims to give a voice to the so often voiceless. Bell says, adding: “It’s a simple story of growing up, of living, of loving but this time we’re listening.”
From Mmabana Arts Centre in Mahikeng comes Waiting for God, which under the careful crafting of director and dramatist, Tshepiso Konopi, reveals itself as an absurd interpretation of our nefariously beguiling anticipation for the arrival of a saviour – a saviour who brings an end to the tyranny and oppression of fictional president Khanda.
Konopi explains: “It’s almost stolen title might make you think of Samuel Beckett, but you will wait a long time before that thought comes to fruition. The play takes the viewer into the fractured reality of ordinary South Africans who are still in the wait for the ever coveted better life for all. Waiting for god, will get you asking yourself why are you still waiting?”
Waiting for God showcases the talents of Zakheni Cala and Ketlanae Gaoganediwe.
On Thursday, April 8 Forgotten Futures hosts two acclaimed South African films: Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us and While You Weren’t Looking .
Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us (2014) has picked up recent wins for Audience Awards at both The Pan African Film Festival 2015 and the Jozi Film Festival 2015. Set in Alexandra Township, South Africa, a brother and sister journey through life knowing they have no one but each other.
Schoolgirl Zanele falls in love with an older man where a series of events are set in motion and reveal much more. The showing consists of a facilitated post show discussion with producer and director Ernest Nkosi.
While You Weren’t Looking (2015) is the winner of The Pink Apple Audience Award in Zurich 2015 promises to be a valuable addition to SA Season 2016.
South Africa led the world with its all-embracing Constitution, granting homosexuals unprecedented freedoms and rights. This feature, produced by The Out In Africa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, takes a look at South Africa through the lives and experiences of a cross section of Cape Town queers.
The showing will include a panel discussion after the screening facilitated by community counselling psychologist, Ella Kotze.
Tickets are R45 (R30 students and pensioners) online and R50 (R40 students and pensioners) at the box office. Film screenings are free. Book at http://www.webtickets.co.za
SA SEASON FORGOTTEN FUTURES PROGRAMME
- Wednesday, April 6 at 7 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Nortasuna, directed by Lidija Marelic.
- Wednesday, April 6 at 8.30 pm in the Wits Downstairs Theatre – iMBOKODO, directed by Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga.
- Thursday, April 7 at 10 am in the Wits Main Theatre – Thina Sobabili: The Two Of Us, written and directed by Ernest Nkosi. Nkosi will also facilitate a post-show discussion.
- Thursday, April 7 at 7 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Nortasuna, directed by Lidija Marelic.
- Thursday, April 7 at 8.15 pm in the Wits Main Theatre – While You Weren’t Looking directed by Catherine Stewart. Facilitated post show discussion hosted by Ella Kotze.
- Thursday, April 7 at 8.30 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Kasi Stories: Stories Not Often Told, directed by Benjamin Bell.
- Friday, April 8 at 1.15 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Nortasuna, directed by Lidija Marelic.
- Friday, April 8 at 7 pm in the Wits Downstairs Theatre – Waiting for God, directed by Tshepiso Konopi.
- Friday, April 8 at 8.30 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Kasi Stories: Stories Not Often Told, directed by Benjamin Bell.
- Saturday, April 9 at 3.30 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Kasi Stories: Stories Not Often Told, directed by Benjamin Bell.
- Saturday, April 9 at 4.30 pm in the Wits Downstairs Theatre – Waiting for God, directed by Tshepiso Konopi.
- Saturday, April 9 at 6 pm in the Wits Amphitheatre – Nortasuna, directed by Lidija Marelic.
- Saturday, April 9 at 7.30 pm in the Wits Downstairs Theatre – iMBOKODO, directed by Nondumiso Lwazi Msimanga.
- Saturday, April 9 at 8.30 pm outside the Wits Theatre – DFL CYPHER (Performance Poetry Slam).