Online move as showbiz struggles

Durban jazz favourite Zoe The Seed is among 25 diverse vocalists assembled for a special online fund-raising concert on August 26.

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BY BILLY SUTER

WITH Coronavirus lockdown restrictions still tightly squeezing the throat of the South African entertainment industry, more and more creatives are turning to online platforms in a bid to financially stay afloat and keep the flag flying for the profession. Several endeavours – from online theatre courses to recorded performances – are on offer, and the following are among events available:

TWENTY-FIVE VOCALISTS AGAINST VIOLENCE

DURBAN’S Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, together with iSupport Creative Business, is to present a concert featuring diverse vocalists who are raising funds for the KZN Network on Violence Against Women.

The online concert will take place as part of the centre’s regular Unlocked Music Sessions, at 6pm on Wednesday, August 26. Tickets cost R80 and are available online via Webtickets.

The Voices Against Gender-Based Violence concert will bring together 25 vocalists to raise funds, at a time when, because of the global pandemic, the devastating landscape is viscerally and negatively impacted and where many survivors of abuse and violence are trapped and vulnerable to perpetrators.

The online experience features a unique diversity in terms of genres and generations. Durban jazz favourites Zoe The Seed, Thulile Zama, Debbie Mari , Natalie Rungan, and Xolisa Dlamini will be part of the line-up. Also, the popular Nosihe, Zethe, Sam Landers, Skye Wanda and Toya deLazy, currently based in London, are raising their voices.

Singer-songwriters Haylea Heyns, Simthandile and Chloe Clark also form part of the line-up, which includes Canadian-based sisters Vanessa Moodley and Jessica Chaz, and South African born Fullbright scholar Opera vocalist Bronwen Forbay, now based in the US.

Joining this impressive line-up are Shelly McLean, Mimi Mtshali, Maya Spector, Thandeka Ndlovu and Thandeka Dladla. Male vocalists completing the line-up are Rob Warren, Rene Tshiakanyi, Kwena Ramahuta and opera lecturer Lionel Mkhwanazi.

“The funds raised will be used towards empowering women and young girls in communities through structured information sessions. Providing such women and girls with reliable information, support and expertise to maximise their safety and meet their needs is imperative,” says KZN Network director, Cookie Edwards. 

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Durban’s award-winning Greg King of KickstArt is selling children’s masks and offering an online introductiion to set design.

KICKSTART’S KING AND STEAD ONLINE

AWARD-WINNING Durban theatre designer-director Greg King, who provides the impressive sets and many costume designs for KickstArt stage productions, has turned his hand to making novel masks for children to help make ends meet during Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Also, he is presenting an online offering centred on set design and set building.

Meanwhile, KickstArt’s executive director, Steven Stead, is also offering one-on-one, private coaching sessions.

King has created a limited edition series of fun children’s masks, each made by hand with love and care by him personally.  The series is called “Lions and Tigers and Bears” and includes cute animals and fairies that will make any child actually enjoy wearing them and playing “Let’s Pretend” on a daily basis. They are hand-washable and conform to government requirements.

Each mask costs R150 and the money generated from sales will go towards keeping KickstArt Theatre alive.

“Let’s Talk About Sets, Baby!” is the title of King’s online offering in which he calls on any art class or drama group, or anyone else interested, to learn about his personal approach to set designing – from original concept, design and model-making to construction, scenic painting, set dressing and more. The exercise is designed to be informative, fun and informal, featuring backstage stories, anecdotes, lots of references to KickstArt productions and a question-and-answer session.

Contact King at kickstart@letni.co.za or via WhatsApp on 083 544 2006 to place masks orders or enquire about his sets workshop.

Regarding the masks, he will revert with banking details, and once payment is received, he will set up  delivery (if you live in the Durban area) Orders from outside the Durban area can be couriered, at an additional cost.

Stead’s online presence is aimed at improving acting, or public speaking, by giving young drama students and budding, young professionals the opportunity to work in detail on monologues or even songs, prepare for exams or auditions, or just flex acting muscles, with a highly experienced, dedicated, professional director.

Sessions will involve the preparation and performance of set pieces, and the discussion and teaching of acting techniques specifically for live theatre. The sessions will not be syllabus oriented, nor is there any sort of qualification awarded.

This is a process-based, personally tailored series of masterclasses with a professional director. The work will consist of practical work, acting theory, warm-ups, textual analysis, vocal technique, physicality and character.

If you are interested in booking sessions with Steven, or finding out more about the procedure and pricing, please email him at: kickstart@letni.co.za.

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Betty Bangles in full flight. The popular drag queen is among five performing in an online, hour-long show, Drag Extravaganza Act 1.

VIRTUAL REALITY FOR SA DRAG QUEENS

BEEFCAKES, one of South Africa’s premier bachelorette party venues, has been unable to open its doors due to strict lockdown measures, so the popular drag queens of this 1950s-style theatre restaurant have united to raise funds that will be shared among the performers, waiters and cleaning staff.

They are presenting Drag Extravaganza Act 1 online, an hour-long lip-sync show filmed at Beefcakes in Johannesburg, to be available for viewing from August 28 to September 5.

Before lockdown, women and men flocked to Beefcakes in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria to see drag queens, including TV’s Betty Bangles, perform on stage while handsome, topless men served gourmet burgers and cocktails.

Now, the drag queens who depend on these shows and tips from patrons, have not received an income for the past four months. Although restaurants are, under the current regulations, allowed to operate, Beefcakes is a dinner theatre where birthdays and bachelorette parties are celebrated. Owing to the no-alcohol rule and the curfew, people were not keen to book.

Roberto del Gallo, who bought Beefcakes in October last year, says the business was doing very well until Covid-19 hit.

“The effect of Covid-19 and lockdown has been enormous,” he adds. All our expenses, waiters, staff and artists need to be paid. Our artists have been without work which means they don’t get paid at all. The ripple effect of this is huge, affecting not only individuals, but families.”

Bernard Buys (aka Betty Bangles), star of the reality show Betty en die Dossers, is one of the queens performing in the online production.

He says: “Like many in the entertainment industry, we have no income. We went from three shows a week to nothing! Most of our queens don’t have other jobs. With this show, we want to raise money for the Beefcakes artists as well as other staff. We are a family and we look out for each other.”

Apart from Betty Bangles, LouLou Blu, Charne Churchill, Holly Diamond and Kitana K also appear in the show that will be screened online in an hour-long e that will be available from 28 August until the show. Tickets are available at tixsa and cost R65.

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