IN celebration of Africa Month, social cohesion, unity in diversity and heritage, The Playhouse Company is staging Africa Celebrates, a weekend of visual and performing arts on May 6 and 7.
On show in the Grand Foyer will be an exhibition of Africa-themed pieces curated by The Durban Art Gallery from its vast collection; while in the Main Foyer, crafters from around KwaZulu-Natal will exhibit their wares and demonstrate how they make their pieces.
On Friday, May 6 from 12 pm to 2 pm, three exciting social exchange workshops will take place. These workshops will offer stimulating opportunities for arts practitioners to show others in the industry what goes into making their medium.
The workshops will be led by Miranda Young, who works with drama in correctional facilities and who will be running a fabulous drama/improvisation workshop; the incredible Burundian Drummers with a drumming workshop; and the Playhouse Dance Residency, who will run a dance workshop and demonstrate to audiences what goes into being a professional dancer.
Another two workshops will be run from2.30 pm to 4.30 pm: A music workshop facilitated by the KwaZulu-Natal United Music Industry (KUMISA) in the Grand Foyer; and a poetry workshop facilitated by Nowadayz Poets in the Alhambra Room.
At 5 pm celebrated musicians, Madala Kunene and Solomon Willy, will perform in The Playhouse Company’s special Africa Celebrates version of its monthly Sundowners concerts, with poets KB Kilobyte, Xabiso Vili, Khusi Mahleka and Vuyiswa Guliwe. The concert will take place in the Playhouse Cellar.
The Friday, May 6 programme will end with the opening night performance of The Cenotaph of Dan wa Moriri, a touching drama starring Tony Miyambo who conjures the story of his late father from barely-remembered moments, fading images, truths and half-truths. Booking for the play is through Computicket, and tickets are R80 each.
On Saturday, May 7, the programme will begin at 10 am with a workshop on entrepreneurship in the arts, followed by a workshop on marketing and publicity in the arts at 11.30 am. These workshops will be run by experts in their fields, and will be ideal for anyone involved in the arts.
From 12 pm to 2 pm, The Playhouse Company’s regular Test Driving the Arts platform will showcase the following groups in the Porte Cochere: Ofeleba, Ikusasa Elihle, Hyena Blues, Indlondlo and Amaviyo.
From 2.30 pm to 4 pm, Dr Gcina Mhlophe, arguably South Africa’s foremost storyteller, will facilitate a session called The Art of African Storytelling, which will see expert storytellers from various different cultures demonstrate their storytelling abilities and explain what it is that makes their brand of storytelling unique.
Audiences will be encouraged to share their storytelling heritages, and the facilitator will explain the origins of storytelling and the variations that exist within Africa.
The event will end with a prepared story from each of the speakers, and a question and answer session. Confirmed for the session are professional storyteller Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (originally from Uganda, but now resident in Cape Town), Living Legend Dr Don Mattera and award-winning journalist and film-maker, Sylvia Vollenhoven.
Also on the programme for 4.30 pm on Saturday, May 7 is A Tribute to African Poets/Words Drawn led by Iain ‘ewok’ Robinson and featuring veteran poets Nomusa Xaba and Nokulunga Dladla, who will perform some of Africa’s greatest poetry, while graffiti artists put visuals to the words.
Afterwards, musicians Daniel Dos Reis and Thando Nyameni will play a 30-minute session each in this extra-ordinary version of The Playhouse Company’s regular Sundowners concerts in the Playhouse Cellar.
To end off the Africa Celebrates weekend at 7 pm, some of South Africa’s foremost performers will feature in a spectacular Africa Celebrates Concert in the majestic Playhouse Opera Theatre.
This glittering production will feature Mi Casa, Simphiwe Dana, Tresor (originally from the DRC, but now resident in South Africa), DJ Happy Gal, the Burundian Drummers and Wentworth-based hip-hop dance outfit, Dance Movement.
The concert will be directed by Aubrey Sekhabi, with musical direction by Victor Masondo.
Living Legends Dorothy Masuka, Abigail Kubeka, Dr Joseph Shabalala, Samson Mazibuko, Dr Don Mattera and Theo Bophela will be honoured during the concert. The MCs will be Dr Gcina Mhlophe and Alex Mthiyane.
Tickets for the concert can be purchased from Computicket at a cost of R80 and R100, depending on seat position.
All other activities included the Africa Celebrates weekend are free to the public.