ASSITEJ SA doubles number of shows at the National Arts Festival 2016

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Rowin Munsamy and Shona Johnson star in The Fantastical Flea Circus.

The ASSITEJ Family Fare returns to National Arts Festival for the fifth consecutive year to bring to the festival unique, quality theatre for youth and young audiences.

With 20 productions under its umbrella this year, ASSITEJ SA has now more than doubled the number of shows on its bill since the first iteration of the venue in 2012 which had nine shows.

Since its inception, ASSITEJ Family Fare has provided an exceptional platform dedicated entirely to the needs of families experiencing the festival together. The venues provide theatre which caters to the whole family, while Oatlands Prep, where the ASSITEJ Family Fare Platform has its base, specifically provides interactive, creative and stimulating Family Fare activities run by artists and ASSITEJ staff.

67 Blankets for Mandela will returns to the ASSITEJ Family Fare Outlands Prep venue to ensure that knitwits attending the festival can carry on with the goodwill and knit for Madiba.

ASSITEJ has built relationships within the Grahamstown family community, with local families returning each year. Denese Palm, a local mom and entrepreneur, has for the last four years provided wholesome and nutritious catering for audiences visiting the Oatlands venue. This year ASSITEJ SA has also provided a space for Grahamstown institution, the Kuyasa Special School, to sell their handmade crafts and homegrown spekboom.

The ASSITEJ Family Fare Platform continues to gain recognition within the framework of the National Arts Festival. Of the handful of prestigious Silver Ovation Awards issued at National Arts Festival since 2012, the ASSITEJ Family Fare programme has already been awarded two: the first for Jori Snell’s critically acclaimed Kitchen Fables in a Cookie Jar in 2012 and the second to international ASSITEJ theatre company, Batida from Denmark, whose production A Man Called Rolex heralded in a new category of award for Family Fare in 2014.

Many other productions on the platform have been awarded Ovation awards in recognition of their quality including, Incredible Journey, which will be returning to the Family fare platform again this year, and Making Mandela.

The ASSITEJ Family Fare Platform has now extended across the festival, with performances at Oatlands Prep, Memory Hall, Transnet Great Hall and Drostdy Lawn.

In 2016, ASSITEJ SA Family Fare is excited to see 2014 favourite Narrative Dreams return to the Fringe. This poignant tale of childhood loneliness, and finding something and someone to sustain you, is the result of mentorship from ASSITEJ SA.

Both Lereko Mfono (playwright) and Omphile Molusi (director) have been part of the ASSITEJ SA Inspiring a Generation programme, partially sponsored by Distell foundation, and in 2013 Lereko was able to explore his notions of Theatre for Young Audiences in Paris, as part of France South Africa Seasons 2012 & 2013 exchange, sponsored by the National Arts Council of SA and the French Institute.

Omphile meanwhile attended the 2010 New Visions New Voices festival and the Pittsburgh Children’s Festival, both in the United States, and it was here that his dream to start a festival in his home village of Bodibe was birthed. This festival has now been given wings by sponsorship from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. Omphile also celebrates this year the publication of his previous work, Balalatladi, in the 25 Plays for 25 Years Commemoration Collection of New Visions New Voices.

Also returning to ASSITEJ SA Family Fare is 2015 Standard Bank Ovation recipient Incredible Journey, and crowd favourites 2-4-1 Even More Fun and Florence and Watson and the Sugarbush Mouse.

The 2016 Family Fare programme also features a wealth of new productions specially created for young audiences and we are delighted that amongst these are an exciting French-South African collaboration with Theatre Thump! and new work especially created for the under-sixes. There will also be some surprise performances at the Oatlands Family Fare Platform, and expect to find music, dance and street theatre when you visit.

Ticket prices range from R50 to R61. Some productions will have a half price special during their run at the National Arts Festival, please visit https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/events/ for more information and prices.

For more information and block bookings contact: 046 603 1186/1163 or e-mail boxoffice@nationalartsfestival.co.za enquiries may also be directed to info@assitej.org.za

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ABOUT THE PRODUCTIONS

Clowning for Young Audiences: 

  • 2-4-1 Even More Fun (3+). presented by Cherryco and directed and performed by Adi Paxton. Join festival regular Adi Paxton as Petric, the Admirable Nelson, a crazy penguin (and others) in a new interactive seaside puppet adventure: and as a dotty, Cherry the Clown to enjoy even more magical fun.

Musical Theatre for Young audiences: 

  • Florence and Watson and the Sugarbush Mouse (4+), written, directed and starring Rob van Vuuren and Danielle Bischoff. Join husband and wife team Rob van Vuuren and Danielle Bischoff as Florence and Watson, the funniest, all-singing, all-dancing, all-storytelling Honey Badgers you’ve ever met as they bring to life, the remarkable tale of a brave and resourceful little mouse who discovers a unique talent that allows her to save the Proteas on the beautiful mountain that she calls home.

Visual Theatre for young audiences: 

  • Fantastical Flea Circus (2-12), presented by Copydog Productions, directed by Clinton Marius and featuring Shona Johnson and Rowin Munsamy. Hailed as “Wonder-flea entertaining” (Latoya Newman, Daily News) and “BIG fun from tiny stars” (Billy Suter, Mercury), this multi-award-winning mix of song, dance, rhyming verse and clever tricks stars comedic performers Shona Johnson as renowned opera singer, Duchess De Nunu, and Verne RowinMunsamy as a bumbling professor of Fleaology.
  • Rat Race (4-6), presented by Well Worn Theatre Company, directed by Kyla Davis and featuring Ameera Patel and Roberto Pombo. This play for four to six year olds is an animated pop up storybook show that follows the unlikely friendship between a stressed-out city rat and a kind, easy going farm mouse. Miles the rat is a big cheese in the big city, but when his hectic lifestyle starts to make him ill he is ordered to go on a holiday to the countryside and rest. There he meets Melissa a simple living earth mouse who loves the peace and tranquillity of her farm life. Miles and Melissa get off on a bad start when their worlds collide and they discover that they have very different daily routines.
  • How Stories Began (4+), presented by Jungle Theatre, directed by Seiso Qhola and featuring Vincent Meyburgh and Ntombifuthi Mkhasibe. This African folktale is set in ancient times on the Wild coast in a Zulu village. The story starts in a time before people had any stories to tell. Zenzele, a sculpture, and his wife, Manzandaba, have many children but no stories to tell them. Manzandaba decides to go on a journey to find stories leaving Zenzele to look after the home and the children. Manzandaba goes on an adventure meeting various fantastical and comical animals. She is lead to magical creatures under the ocean. The story comes to life in English and isiXhosa with original songs and innovative masks.
  • The Light House (5-9), presented by Alt Eye Productions, directed by Maude Sandham and featuring Jaques De Silva & Joe Young. Gordon lives in a light house. He watches the sea every day for ships … and for his friend Samuel the Sailor. AntieLachmi and Bra Thabo say Samuel is never coming back, but Gordon won’t give up hope. Surely Samuel will come back for his birthday?
    A tale of friendship and love performed by two physical theatre performers. A story of waiting, patience and boredom brought to life through multiple characters, a multi-faceted moving set, shadow puppetry and more!
  • LangaYanta Monster Hunter (8+), presented by UBOM!, directed by Kyla Davis and featuring Anele Heshu, Elethu Heshu, Sisonke Yafele and Nox Donyeli. “You sacred of Monsters? Don’t call your mamas, call the guy in the cool pyjamas!” Ubom! lights up the stage in this thrilling tale of creepy monsters and cuddly toys. Monster Hunter is the story of one brave youngster’s quest to defeat the nameless fears that many children suffer.
  • Warrior Green (9-12), written and Directed by Wynne Bredenkamp and featuring Emma Kotze. Award-winning writer-director, Wynne Bredenkamp, brings a new thrilling story where secrets, betrayal and hope collide in the futuristic adventure of two friends who dream of finding the mythical Green. One will follow the Settlement’s rules, the other will break the greatest one: No One Will Hide The Green! Adult friendly.
  • The Incredible Journey (10+), presented by Kalk Bay Theatre Productions, directed by Stefan Erasmus and featuring Stefan Erasmus, Emma Kotze and Callum Tilbury. “Awesome … storytelling, exceptionally performed” Once upon a time, a boy named Tommy who lived an unadventurous life was presented by a challenge from the new kid at school who likes to be the boss and will use whatever means he can be to get there. Tommy turns to the only place he can think of where he might get help – the library and he is swept up in an adventure of the imagination and magic which teaches him valuable life lessons. Come see Tommy’s journey to becoming a hero.

Non Verbal/ Movement for young audiences: 

  • PushmiPulyu (2-6), presented by UKAO, directed by Bulelani Mabutyana and featuring Thulisa Mayalo and Sisipho Mbopa. This piece explores the concept of ‘push me pull you’, which is something that has more parts than usual – it can be human, plants or animals. The piece shows two people that are stuck together and trying to cope with life. When they discover that they are stuck together, they both pull to different directions, that doesn’t work, so they try other means like running away from each other until they figure out its better to push while the other is pulling. PushmiPulyu, is a beautiful show that is full of smiles and new discovery for small people.
  • No Fun Ction All Anguage (14+), presented by The Chaeli Campaign, directed by Jayne Batzofin, music composed and performed by Dave Knowles and featuring Andile Vellem, Iman Isaacs, Daniel Richards and Christelle Dreyer. Produced by the Chaeli Campaign and funded by the National Lottery Commission (NLC), takes a microscopic look at the in-between spaces where words fail us – where we desperately search for meaning between vowels, consonants and silences. How do we say what we mean or express what we feel? This award-winning NPO which provides services to children with disability is working actively towards creating a more inclusive theatrical landscape in South Africa – both off-stage, as well as on. A diverse group of creative collaborators come together to challenge artistic mainstream narratives around communication, ability, access and inclusivity.

Drama for young audiences

  • The Cloud Catcher (6-12), presented by OddBody Theatre, written and directed by Richard Antrobus and featuring Asiphe Lili. Now, BuhleLifu was no ordinary child. She was shy and timid but adventurous and wild. She was strange looking, unpopular but also quite smart, despite failing science, maths, history and art. But Buhle was a thinker, a tinker with a brain, who would soon save the day and bring back the rain. Best suited for audiences aged 6 to 12 (and their parents!).
  • Narrative Dreams (10+), presented by Seeds of Water, directed by Omphile Molusi, written by Lereko Mfono and featuring Titus Mekgwe and Aubrey Mogale. Is a nostalgic and beautiful piece exploring two very different childhoods, which share, despite their differences, a sense of isolation and loneliness. Narrative Dreams tells the coming of age story of two boys from different worlds, Morena and David, who puzzle their way through the tumultuous, playful years of childhood life in search of friendship, acceptance and wholeness. As they grow into adolescence David and Morena try to make sense of the world into which they are moving. They face challenges that accompany their journey and start to ask questions about whether they will be able to realise the dreams of their childhood. Play director Omphile Molusi, whose productions Cadre and Itsoseng have been main festival attractions in previous years.
  • Isaro (13+), presented by Outreach Foundation (Hillbrow Theatre) and written and directed by Gcebile Dlamini. Isaro is a Rwandan name meaning beads knitted together, symbolizing unity. The play emerged as a response to the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Tracing the journey of ‘The Forgotten One’ who flees Rwanda and lands up in South Africa. The narrative is used to probe the reasons behind South Africa’s repeated xenophobic violence. Questioning if the attacks on those who are ‘Other’ in South Africa as a result of fear of cultural invasion, language dilution, competition over resources or fear of losing what we fought for in apartheid.
  • Tshimbila Rantsula (13+), presented by Outreach Foundation (Hillbrow Theatre) and written and directed by Gcebile Dlamini. ‘Tshimbila’ means ‘walk’ in Venda. This play deals with the way Africans have lost their sense of identity through the dilution of their culture by the pervasive wash of western teaching. This production tells of the struggles that are experienced in different parts of Africa and allegorically deals with issues of gender and women’s issues through its tale of how Africa was thrown out of the village because she was a woman. Awarded 2nd Best Production at the Inner-city Drama School Festival.

Public Art for young audiences

  • Butterfly Dreams (8+), presented by Jungle Theatre, directed by Vincent Meyburgh and assisted by Richard Antrobus and featuring Cebisa Fubesi, Siyawandisa Badi, Joce Engelbrecht, Athenkosi Dyantyi, Ntombifuthi Mkhasibe, Seiso Qhola, Vincent Meyburgh. Dancing on stilts with powerful drumming and spectacular costumes Butterfly Dreams is a surreal and larger than life celebration of a girl experiencing the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Hiding in a tree house she dreams, as the sounds of her garden turn into music, of two giant butterflies dancing. The male catches the female’s eggs and hangs them on a leaf where they hatch and grow into giant caterpillars. Can she challenge the predator and protect the miracle of life for her own big transformation?
  • Fleurs de Silence (Flowers of Silence) (6+), presented by Theatre Thump!, performed by Carole Deborde, Oliver Borowskiand Juliette Fabre and coaching by Tom Roos (Wurrewurre, Belgium). Death. Love and sacrifice. A couple search for the place where their lives toppled over… Mamma Roma comes to tell us a story about Médéa and Simion, two characters from another world returning to give hommage to their beloved one. Come reconstruct this puzzle of intrigue via these three strange characters.
  • Lenyalo (12+), presented by Theatre Thump! and Sisonke Arts and featuring Carole Deborde, Oliver Borowski, Seipati Magagula and Herbert Mokoena. Wedding invitation for onlookers in the street ‘you are hereby cordially invited to our wedding’ dress code: as you are; time + date: check the programme place: Grahamstown’s National arts festival.We look forward on sharing our special day just with you!
  • Yin’ iRespect?! (12+), presented by Mhayise Productions and choreographed by Musa Hlatshwayo. This touring dance theatre piece explores the notion of respect – how we show respect, to whom and why! It fuses street games, energetic dance, singing, acting and chants, all creatively interwoven into a participatory dance theatre work specifically made for younger audiences.

67 Blankets Knitathon – bring your wool and needles and join in to make blankets in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 67 Minutes campaign on July 2 from 10 am to 1 pm and July 9 from 10 am to 1 pm.

Support the Kuyasa Special School on the weekends and purchase handmade goods and homegrown plants.

For the full programme, visit http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za or http://www.assitej.org.za

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