Varied fare for Playhouse festival

A scene from Confessions of a Blacklisted Woman: She Bellows, at Durban’s Playhouse from August 15 to 18.

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BY BILLY SUTER

KHANYO Maphumulo, Gloria Bosman, The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and the Playhouse Chorale will perform at the Gala Concert planned as a highlight of the 22nd South African Women’s Arts Festival at Durban’s Playhouse in August.

The event, running from August 7 to 18, will feature some of South Africa’s latest and greatest theatrical productions, performers, directors, writers and choreographers, says Playhouse Company’s chief executive and artistic director, Linda Bukhosini.

“In keeping with Women’s Month, SAWAF’s mix of dance, drama, music, dialogue, arts andc, showcases the determination of South African women to find freedom, respect and equality in our society,” she says.

Tickets for the Gala Concert, scheduled for the Playhouse Opera on Saturday, August 11, range in price from R100 to R150.

“This year, the country celebrates the centenary of one of the great daughters of the African soil, Albertina Sisulu, who dedicated her life to fight for the emancipation of women and the liberation of South Africa. Among those who fought relentlessly and played a significant role to attain the freedom we enjoy today was Winnie Mandela,” says a spokesman.

A moment from Scars, a dance work choreographed by Lulu Mlangeni.. Picture by Val Adamson.

“The Playhouse Company pays tribute to such icons under the theme Be the Legacy, with an extravagant concert starring Khanyo Maphumulo, Gloria Bosman featuring The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and the Playhouse Chorale.”

Another festival production commemorating local history is Wathinta Abafazi, Wathint’Imbokodo.

“In August 1956, more than 20 000 women of all races marched in unison to the Union Buildings in Pretoria protesting against unjust apartheid pass laws. The march led to significant changes towards the emancipation of women.

“The 1986 stage production, You Strike the Woman, You Strike the Rock, commemorated the 30th anniversary of that event. Now, more than six decades on, this fresh new retrospective, adapted and directed by Matjamela Motloung for the Playhouse Actors Studio, asks how far women’s rights have progressed, and how much is still to be achieved?

“This gripping piece combines novel elements of fashion and photography with theatre. It runs in The Grand Foyer from August 7 to 11. Tickets cost R80.”

Anther festival pick is Scars, said to be a powerful new Playhouse Dance Residency vehicle choreographed by Lulu Mlangeni. It explores gender stereotyping, and the negative effects it causes.

By tapping into the energy of unlimited human imagination, these barriers can be swept aside, freeing up the human race to realise and rejoice in its full potential, to the benefit of all.

Scars will be staged in the Playhouse Drama Theatre from the August 8 to 11. Tickets cost R80.

Ndoni, Musa Hlatswayo’s compelling new dance piece, is also on the festival bill. It pays tribute to the women of KwaZulu-Natal who leave their homes to find work in the chaos of the city.

Combining the use of video and slide projections with dance, the work is said to unflinchingly evoke a captured journey of multifaceted moments that cast light on these women in their adopted workspace. It runs in the Playhouse Drama from August 7 to 11 August, when tickets will sell for R85.

Confessions of a Blacklisted Woman: She Bellows sounds interesting. Written, directed and developed by Zimkitha Kumbaca, this intriguing presentation by Onalerona Collaborations incorporates music, poetry and dance into a satirical work which interrogates the representation of women in contemporary South African society.

Are black woman at the bottom of the food chain? What is consent culture? Are African skin and hair being replaced with plastic? All these questions are pondered in the production which runs in the Playhouse Drama from August 15 to 18. Tickets cost R80.

A scene from Wathinta Abafazi, Wathint’Imbokodo. Picture by Val Adamson.

Another festival bet is Womb of Fire, a multi-award winning one-hander that exposes the effects of colonialism through the vivid use of allegory.

Set against the episode of the Indian epic, The Mahabharata, the play interweaves personal narrative and contemporary realities with the lives of two women from the founding years of the Cape Colony to interrogate the Womb of Fire that birthed South Africa.

Directed by Dr Sara Matchett with design by Craig Leo, Womb of Fire is written and performed by Rehane Abrahams with vocal accompaniment by Lukhanyiso Skosana. It is to be staged in the Playhouse Loft from August 15 to 18. Tickets are priced at R85.

The festival’s dialogue session will have the theme, Be the Legacy. It will be held in the Playhouse’s Alhambra Room at noon on August at 12h. Admission is free.

“Commemorating the legacies of Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, we ask: what can we learn from the legacies of the past, and how how further do we need to progress to ensure a free, safe and better life for women and girls in South Africa.”

This session will be chaired by Professor Deevia Bhana (UKZN), heading a panel that includes Crispin Hemson (DUT Peace/gender activist), Kwezi Becker (UKZN Student) and Dr Delarise Mulqueeny (Living with HIV).

The festival’s free arts and craft exhibition, The Secret of Beads will be on view in the Alhambra Room throughout the festival, with interactive displays in the Main Foyer at 10am on August 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

The richness of Zulu culture is celebrated though beadwork and throws light on social structures and changing customs in different areas, according to the spokesman.

“Curated by Hlengiwe Dube, the fascinating catalogue looks at the Zulu beliefs system of their ancestors and how they affect the community at large. These beliefs were crystalised through the intervention of traditional healers who used beads to express themselves through instructions from the ancestors.”

Also note that this year. The festival will present a free guitar workshop which will feature performances by Biko and Mana Nhlangothi. The workshops will be held in the Playhouse’s Grand Foyer between noon and 2pm  on August 11.

Rehane Abrahams in Womb of Fire. Picture by Rob Keith.

The workshop will be curated by Kelly Grevler of Sidewalk Sessions. Children between the ages of six and 16 will receive free guitar lessons.

The festival also includes four Sundowner concerts. These vibey jazz events are scheduled for the Main Foyer at 5pm and admission is free.

On August 10, Dawn ‘Thandeka’ King will perform, followed on August 11 by Khumbu and Nozuko Lilitha and Ndu Shezi and on August 17 by Angel Zondo. The August 18 attraction is  the Dani Foster Trio.

All festival event bookings are at Computicket outlets.

written and performed by Rehane Abrahams


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