Celebrate SA’s dynamic youth with music, dance, theatre and laughter at the State Theatre’s Youth Expressions Festival 2015
South Africa’s youngsters have always been outspoken, creative and able to express themselves. The spirit of the youth can be seen in the youth protests of 16 June 1976, when thousands of youngsters rose up against “Bantu education” and the use of Afrikaans as a compulsory language of instruction. A peaceful march turned into an uprising as heavily armed police fired teargas and live ammunition into the crowd. The Soweto Uprising changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa and mobilised the international community, ultimately ending the struggle against apartheid.
The Youth Expressions festival celebrates the creative spirit of the youth, remembers their past, celebrates their hopes and acknowledges their importance. It is in this spirit that the South African State Theatre plays host to the Youth Expressions festival from 16 to 28 June 2015.
Says Festival Director Mpumelelo Paul Grootboom, “This year the flagship section of the festival, ‘Resident Expressions’, consists of 5 productions from young creatives. These are productions that, although put up on next to no budget, we hope will be interesting enough to stand the test of time and become tomorrow’s classics. The 5 productions are: ‘Tit for Tat’, ‘Diva
Reunion’, ‘Walk Out’, ‘Listen’ and ‘The Kraal’.
Of course our other productions playing within the period of the festival are the SAST Main Productions – like John Kani’s Missing” and 2 of the 4 ‘Drama for Life productions’
It is quite fortuitous for our festival that these professional productions are playing within our festival as it places the ‘very experienced’ in a context where they are in a position of leading our young theatre makers. Added to these is Napo Masheane’s exciting Poetry and Music production, “Napo and Friends”. Napo is well-known and quite acclaimed, so I am sure that the youth will appreciate having that sort of quality leading our young creatives.
We also have 7 Fringe and unjuried part productions that we hope everyone will give a peek and hopefully be interested in.
Over and beyond this, there is a Poetry competition, a music and comedy line up from our yearlong programmes, ‘Tshwane Comedy Night’, and ‘Jazz African Nights’. And finally, this year our Main Act is the dynamic and much adored Acappella trio, ‘The Soil’.
The festival will begin with an opening ceremony march on 16 June from the State Theatre to the Applause Square, and end with a concert featuring South African acappella group The Soil on 27 June 2015. Between these two events is an eclectic mix of theatre productions, dance pieces, comedy, music and slam poetry.
With such a variety of arts and culture on offer, Gautengers will find themselves spoilt for choice.
Tickets cost between R80 and R200 and are available through Computicket. For more information visit www.statetheatre.co.za and look for the section on the Youth Expressions Festival.
More information on the various elements of the festival:
These are the works picked and taken care of by festival director Paul M. Grootbom. The aim is to encourage original works from or containing young theatre makers, works that can stand the test of time – well-structured, well-told – and compete with the best the world has to offer. The adjective in the title is of course based on the fact that this is also the passion and pet project of Grootboom, the resident director, but it can also work that will stand the test of time and be tomorrow’s classics. The following are the five productions chosen for this purpose: Tit for Tat, Listen, Diva Reunion, The Kraal and Walk Out.
Written and directed by Sibusiso Khwinana, Tit for Tat takes place in an unnamed African country, after what has become known as the “the deadliest war in modern African history”. It focuses on four South African soldiers who are trapped in the central African bush. We follow their hopeless journey as they try to get back home to South Africa. Tit for Tat can be experienced at Studio 4D, State Theatre, on17 June 2015 at 18:00; 19 June 2015 at 20:00; 23 June 2015 at 20:00 and 25 June 2015 at 18:00
Written and directed by Stephen Visser, Listen follows Kabelo Morake and Thandi Mahonono, a middle-aged couple, seem genuinely in love even after 5 years of their relationship. Things change when Kabelo, an office administrator at an event company, loses his job and Thandi, a teller at a clothing shop, continues working. This creates a lot of jealousy and insecurity for him about Thandi and he starts treating her differently. But wait… on the other hand the very same girlfriend who claims to be pure has her own evil side. Listen will be performed at Studio 4D, State Theatre, on 16 June 2015 at 18:00; 18 June 2015 at 20:00; 19 June 2015 at 20:00; and 23 June 2015 at 18:00
Written and directed by Kedibone Tholo, Diva Reunion follows three women in their early to late thirties, who get together for a reunion at a park after a long time of separation. Each of the women tells their personal life stories, their achievements, disappointments, the harsh realities of life and how they have been trying to deal with them throughout their separation. We get to understand who they are and what informs their decisions, whether good or bad. In this day and age, a changing society, where women are no longer seen as only child bearers and their partners’ properties, it is only them who can describe who they want to be and how they want to live their lives. Diva Reunion seeks to give women a voice to express themselves without fear or favour.
Catch Diva Reunion at Satchmos Courtyard (4th Floor), State Theatre on 18 June 2015 at 16:00, 19 June 2015 at 19:00, 23 June 2015 at 14:00 and 25 June 2015 at 18:00
Written and directed by Bongani Masango, The Kraal is set in a rural village. The story centres on the event and aftermath of the death of the eldest of three brothers in a homestead that still practises traditional values. According the family’s customs, the dead brother’s immediate younger brother (Bafana) should take over his household. But the problem is that the widow (Thokozile) wants nothing to do with him. She has her own preferences, opposing traditional laws. But in this society women are not given the freedom to do as they please. As this woman decides to fight back, things go wrong as the ancestors are angered by her behaviour.
The Kraal is on at the Arena on 16 June 2015 at 15:00, 18 June 2015 at 20:00 and 20 June 2015 at 15:00.
Written by Pious Moyo and directed by Kenny Mmekwa, Walk Out is a musical play about the plight of the teenagers who find themselves in the crossroads of life. They have resorted to smoking all forms of concoctions including the notorious “nyaope”. Some of these youths have been in difficult situations in their lives, including the loss of their loved ones. They live together as a family in the streets and together they re-invent themselves and attempt to find a new lease in life.
Walk Out will be on at The Arena Theatre, State Theatre, on 17 June 2015 at 19:00 and 19 June 2015 at 15:00
An unjuried part of the festival, where all submission are accepted and not dramaturged. Here there is no criteria for inclusion, anything goes. This is sometimes exciting as the unplanned nature of the showings can sometimes yield surprisingly refreshing and unique works. The Fringe Expressions include Historical Journey, Lefese Boss!, Stay Away From Boys!, Fadi and One Of Us.
A dance production with narration tracking the South African history from back to the apartheid era to our current democratic dispensation, Historical Journey fuses African contemporary creative movements, and cultural songs, and celebrates the 100 years of selfless struggle by the people of South Africa. Historical Journey is written and directed by Ayanda Sithebe, and will be performed at The Arena Theatre, State Theatre, on 16 June 2015 at 20:00, 18 June 2015 at 15:00 and 20 June 2015 at 20:00.
“Lefese Boss!” is an expression used in townships when one is wearing ‘All Star’ (Chuck Taylor) sneakers. Of course the sneakers, in South Africa, are famed for being worn by ‘tsotsis’ (township thugs), but they are also well-known as Pantsula dance sneakers. This story, told in dance, will track what it means to both be Tsotsi and Pantsula. But this is not just about tsotsi, but about how normal people express themselves when wearing these sneakers. Today, they are worn by all – men, women, rich, poor, all township inhabitants who know what the sneakers are all about (‘All Stars’). The production showcases uniquely South African dances, all framed within contemporary dance. It is for both Township and Suburban theatre lovers and expresses the cultural diversity in the country, through a fusion of pantsula, contemporary dance, hip-hop and street dancing. Lefese Boss! was conceptualised by Sibusiso Nkambule and directed by Kgaogelo Tshabalala. Watch it at The Arena Theatre, State Theatre on 17 June 2015 at 14:00 and 19 June 2015 at 20:00
Stay Away From Boys!’ explores the emancipation from family and the trap of outdated ideologies and finding oneself after tragedy and triumph. Two characters negotiate the space and their young township minds. Devised by Khaya Mthembu, Mbasa Tsetsana (who also directs) and Masibulele Madasa, this play takes a visceral tour through childhood using the body as a vehicle. This physical theatre piece will be performed at The Intimate Theatre, State Theatre on 17 June 2015 at 20:00, 20 June 2015 at 18:00, 22 June 2015 at 20:00, 24 June 2015 at 18:00 and 26 June 2015 at 20:00
Fadi is a dance piece created and performed by Mpho Buti Maifadi. It tells the story of the inner soul of a man who is concerned about the xenophobic attacks escalating in his motherland. He strives for peace in the spirit of togetherness but since he is cannot do anything to change the situation faced by his brothers is blood, he reflects on the dichotomy of the pain and sorrows the ‘foreign’ families are going through and the rejoicing of the attacker-brothers. This dance piece will be performed at Studio 4G, State Theatre, on 17 June 2015 at 20:00, 20 June 2015 at 18:00 and 22 June 2015 at 19:00
It’s so easy for a domestic dispute to turn violent. For instance, a man shoots his lover and thereafter takes his own life. What if at that last moment, just as he’s about to put his life to a halt he gets an unexpected knock on his door. It turns out to be a detective who is here to investigate the dispute that had taken place the night before which subsequently landed the man’s lover in hospital with a serious bullet wound. And so begins a cat and mouse game where different scenarios play over until the surprising truth is finally revealed.
One of Us is written by Sandile Makhoba and directed by Refilwe Mokgotlhoa. It will be performed at The Intimate Theatre, State Theatre, on 18 June 2015 at 18:00, 19 June 2015 at 20:00, 21 June 2015 at 19:00 and 23 June 2015 at 18:00
The following productions are part of the Main Programme of the State Theatre. This year the programme features an acclaimed production by legendary artist John Kani. In this month where the youth are supposed to learn from the elderly what more can one ask than having the youth watch a master on stage. Of course this is completed by the important line-up of Drama for Life productions. This is a great line-up that should surely not be missed by both young and old!
Written by John Kani and directed by Janice Honeyman, Missing… is a new South African work by the award winning writer, director and actor, John Kani. It tells the story of an exiled comrade who returns to South Africa with his Swedish wife and engaged daughter. Expecting to take up an illustrious new career in the newly democratic government, he finds an unexpected rival in one of his closest ex-comrades. Missing is on at the Drama Theatre, State Theatre from 3 to 25 June 2015 at 20:00, with additional 15:00 shows on Saturdays.
Renowned, acclaimed and celebrated poet Napo Masheane is poised to set the stage alight with her latest offering, featuring the State Theatre-based music group Ladies in Jazz. This evocative theatrical performance will marry the best of spoken word, gospel and jazzy songs against profound dance pieces by her friend and co- producer, Paul Modjadji. This performance pays homage to the development and fortification of Spoken Word by stretching boundaries and breaking the rules of what performance poetry is seen as. This collaboration with Modjadji, featuring number of Young Poets (from some parts of Africa), The Fat Black Women Sing, Ladies In Jazz and Beyond Vocal. The theme of the performance is “Poetry Unites Africa… a stand against Xenophobia”.
Masheane is the founding member of spoken word collective ‘Feela Sistah!’… Her earliest works include: ‘Caves Speak In Metaphor’, her one woman humorous plays ‘My Bum Is Genetic Deal With It’ and ‘The Fat Black Women Sing’, which was extended due to its popularity. Among other theatre productions are shows such as ‘Mollo – The Woman In Me’ at the Joburg Theatre, ‘Hair & Comb’ and ‘Street Light With Lips’ with University of Pretoria (Drama Department).
Modjadji, who choreographed and directed the performance, was appointed brand ambassador for South Africa’s capital city, Tshwane, and has creatively directed the IBSA Summit (India), the SABC Crown Gospel Awards (SA), the Namibian Annual Music Awards (Namibia), Big Brother Africa (Africa), Gauteng Sport Awards (SA) and ‘Hear Me Move’ Film (SA’s 1st made for cinema dance film).
Catch Napo Masheane and Friends at The Arena Theatre, State Theatre on 25 June 2015 at 20:00, 26 June 2015 at 20:00, and 27 June 2015 at 15:00 and 20:00
Don’t miss the a double-bill of two twenty five minute pieces by Drama for Life, Broken Chant and Synapses.
Broken Chant is inspired by Sonia Radebe’s experience and observations of broken family structures due to various reasons, mainly historical and colonial events. The work seeks to explore the history in parallel with the present socio-economic context. The work will use the five simple stages of the rites of passage as the basic thread: birth, initiation, marriage, reproduction and death. Broken Chant takes a simple yet effective approach in its artistic craft. While embodying the style of African contemporary dance with a strong base of traditional South African aesthetics and rituals, multimedia devices will accompany the landscape of the work giving Sonia Radebe’s moving body a multi dimension in the space and a fresh appeal to the contemporary audiences in Johannesburg. Broken Chant, which was devised by the creative team, will be performed by Sonia Radebe under the direction of Khayelihle Dominique Gumede. It was choreographed by Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Sonia Radebe
Synapses is an investigation into the relationship between the human body and the mind. Through physical theatre, we explore the various possibilities that may arise from the harmonies and contradictions between these two different entities of the same being. Through the cross-pollination of multimedia and live performance, this work seeks to travel through the various terrains of consciousness both in the physical and the psychological. It is a duet between the multiplicities of being. Devised by the creative team, Synapses is directed by Khayelihle Dominique Gumede, choreographed by Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Sonia Radebe, and videographer by Tony B. Miyambo. It is performed by Raezeen Wentworth.
Broken Chant and Synapses will be performed at The Momentum Theatre, State Theatre, on 18 June 2015 at 20:30. 19 June 2015 at 20:30, 20 June 2015 at 20:30, 23 June 2015 at 19:00, 24 June 2015 at 19:00, 25 June 2015 at 19:00, 26 June 2015 at 19:00 and 27 June 2015 at 19:00
Winner of the Drama for Life Open Call for this Season, The Funeral promises a weird and wonderful exploration of identity though the great unknown of death itself. “Told through poetry, movement and soliloquies, The Funeral isn’t a spooky production about the afterlife, but a lyrical reflection on the brief ephemerality we call life: One leaves the theatre touched on an acutely personal level by something profound” says Steyn Du Toit of the Cape Times. Simon Majola, who wrote The Funeral, also performs. He is directed by Phala O Phala. The production takes place at The Momentum Theatre, State Theatre, on 18, 19 and 20 June 2015 at 19:00 and 23 to 27 June 2015 at 20:30
MAHOFI YOUTH ACTS
The Mahofi programme (aka The Precinct) was designed with an overarching mission to create a platform where artists from around Gauteng could showcase their skill, promote their CDs and just express themselves. And the vision to grow our audience base by playing, outside the Theatre, on the square, to try and draw in passing City shoppers. During the Youth Expressions festival Mahofi will present and showcase up to 6 youth artists/groups from around Gauteng on 19 June 2015 at 14:00 and 26 June 2015 at 14:00 at the Applause Square.
This is a Slam poetry competition that has two elimination rounds and a final battle between the last two contenders. First prize is R5000, and the runner-up gets a gift worth R500. Coordinated by NJrD Entertainment, the slam poetry competition takes place at ARENA BAR on 19 June 2015 at 16:00 (Round One), 23 June 2015 at 16:00 (Round Two) and 26 June 2015 at 16:00 (Final Battle)
This scheduling is part of the Jazz and African Music Nights as curated by Bra Wadee. This programme has become legendary at the State Theatre and has seen many South African artists pass through its host stage, the Rendezvous Theatre. This June the line-up promises to be intriguing and in line with what the programme is famous for.
June 19 sees Sabelo Mthembu and The Moses Taiwa Molelekwa Arts Foundation.
Sabelo Mthembu is a musically dynamic South African singer and songwriter whose passion for music can be traced back to his very early childhood. Like most artists, he started singing at the tender age of five in church and became an instant favourite. He holds a strong background of classical music as both a singer and a writer having sung in the University of Johannesburg Choir for 6 years, conducting and directing an a capella music group called Quava and writing and arranging numerous choral pieces widely sung across choir competitions in southern Africa. In 2007, after being voted off the top 12 contestants on South African Idols, he decided to pursue a solo music career. He has since worked and performed on various stages with artists such as Zamajobe, Louise Carver, The Muffinz.
The Moses Taiwa Molelekwa Arts Foundation is based in Tembisa, a township in South Africa’s Gauteng Province. The foundation was established on April 11, 2002. It is also a co-operating organisation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). There, various music instruction classes are held that teach young local kids to play a wide array of instruments and to read music. In 2007 the Taiwa Jazz Band was formed from some of the top students at the foundation. The Taiwa Jazz Band performs indigenous music, yet playing contemporary instruments. The band has since performed widely, receiving major recognition for their incredible talent and astounding musicianship. In 2009, they had their first international tour to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro and they also performed at the Mundial Cultural Festival in Netherlands, May 2010 and MCI InterRegional Festival 2010 in Dar es Salaam – Tanzania, July 2010. In 2008, they were named best band in Gauteng Province in the Puisano Roving Jazz Programme. Some of the major performances include playing at the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival which they performed at and held workshops in both 2008 2009 and 2010. They also wowed crowds at the National Arts Festival held in Grahamstown (Eastern Cape) in 2008 and 2009, including the Standard Bank National Youth Workshop held as part of the festival in 2009 & 2010. They also featured at the Ekurhuleni Divas Concerts and Ekurhuleni Comes Alive Jazz Evening 2008. The young band varies from ages 17 to 26, most of whom balance their school commitments and their love for African indigenous music and jazz. Their repertoire indicates the mature sensibility that they make come alive through their youthful energy and gifted ability.
June 26 plays host to Joel Zuma and the Music Academy of Gauteng.
The Sowetan newspaper raved about Joel Zuma’s “silky velvet voice” and The Daily News called him the “new heart throb”. Joel Zuma has just released a brand new album ”When the Time is Right’’ in October. The album is soulful and groovy with elements of RnB and Soul with an African flavour. His songs written mostly in Zulu carry a strong message of love, hope and inspiration.
The Music Academy of Gauteng has since its inception in 1994 been making a distinctive progress in the arts in communities to date. The academy started in an old unused electricity department building in the township of Daveyton. It is now housed in a new building in Cloverdene opposite a fast growing community of low income residents known as Chief Albert Luthuli Park. The academy services both full-time classes and Saturday classes for school children. Apart from performing all over the world in places such Russia, Germany, England, Sweden, Holland and America the academy’s bands have accompanied world greats such Everette Greene, Kevin Mahogany, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jonas Gwangwa, Victor Ntoni Big Band, McCoy Mrubata Brasskap and many more. MAG students have also undergone clinics by world great musicians such as Branfort Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Roy Hargrove, Count Basie Orchestra, and theDuke Ellington Orchestra.
The Tshwane Comedy Nights continues from strength to strength with its entertainment offering. Curated by famous comedian Kedibone Mulaudzi, it has grown into a brand name within the State Theatre and has brought the institution many loyal audiences through its exciting line-ups.
On June 20 catch Lethu LJay, Sipho Xokiyane, Mdu Ntuli and Malai Jones:
Lethu who has dubbed the name LJay for his professional stage name is a comic and writer from the sunny Hamaanskraal . His comedy style uses dry humour with an intelligent story telling twist. He has over the past year been growing his brand by performing as many open spots as possible at comedy venues like Ozone in Pretoria’s Morula Sun and Sunnside’s Del Kuze Café. His dedication to his craft caught the attention of his mentor Kedibone Mulaudzi to have him feature at most club is Pretoria and Joburg.
Sipho Xokiyane loves writing comedy. Soon after joining the SA Comedy academy in 2012, he took a break from performing to better hone his writing skills, and discover exactly what type of comedian he wanted to be. He re-emerged a year ago – funnier, quick with his punch lines, and with that special ability to keep the audience hooked throughout his performance. Interestingly, Sipho used to be a Black jacks card dealer in a casino, but the prospect of being a monthly cash heist victim didn’t amuse him very much. Instead he thinks funny happens on stage – and you can bet on finding him on stage.
Mdu Ntuli is an undisputed rising star in the South African comedy scene. He won ‘Audience Choice Award’ at the Comics Choice Awards, as well as a SATMA Best Comedian Award – only two short years after graduating from the SA Comedy Academy. This is a first in South African comedy history, and there is no doubt that Mdu is following in the footsteps of South African Comedy superstar; Trevor Noah. He has performed at the Soweto Comedy Festival, Tshwane Comedy Nights, Blacks Only, 99% Comedy Shows and other main comedy festivals.
Florist by day, comic by night – Malai Jones is a Johannesburg based comedian whose career took off in 2013, after he joined the South African Comedy Academy. His vernacular style comedy is based on his experiences living in hostels in and around Johannesburg, his upbringing in a village and the often hilarious life he enjoys selling flowers and roses to people in love and people in morning. Such is Malai’s rollercoaster ride life.
On 27 June Roro Gantsho, Phillip Dikotla, Nonkululeko Mthethwa and Skholo Mayisa will be in action:
Irrefutably one of the hardest working graduates from the South African Comedy Academy class of 2012, Roro Gantsho, an Eastern Cape born native has an evident passion for comedy as soon as he steps on to any comedy stage. Roro wins over any audience with his onstage energy, wit and humorous impersonations of his mother and stories from his day to day interactions with life’s real comedians and the public. He draws his inspiration for his comedy set from his own personal life’s experiences, observations from anything like a car sound to some of today’s hard hitting current issues, thus making his delivery quite unique. Roro has been a constant feature around most of Gauteng’s comedy venues and his early professional success has seen hosting a few comedy events including his mentor Kedibone Mulaudzi’s One Man Show Special shot for DVD release.
Philip Dikotla was bitten by the comedy bug just over two years ago when he took part in the South African Comedy Academy workshops held at the Soweto Theatre in June 2012 and he hasn’t looked back since. In the short time that he has been in the comedy industry, Phillip has performed at the Morula Sun Comedy Thursdays, the Tshwane Comedy Nights, the Soweto Comedy Festival and did a feature on LOL a comedy variety show on DSTV’s Mzansi Magic. This professionally trained actor has graced festivals such as the Grahamstown National Arts Festival and the Edinburg Arts Festivals which continue to be his career highlights so far.
Nonkululeko Mthethwa is undeniably a breath of fresh air around the South African comedy scene. She is a fresh young creative who has been working as an actress, scriptwriter and standup comedian for almost 5 years since graduating from the Market Theatre School of Drama in 2010. Her standup comedy material has been classified as a fresh new breed of literature that deals with the funny fables of growing up as a chubby child and living her day to day life as a female artist. Nonkululeko has performed at various venues in and around Gauteng and she continues to make her mark all around South Africa’s comedy and entertainment circles with her quiet charm and confidence. She is claiming her place in the comedy industry one stage at a time.
Skholu Manyisa started his professional comedy career soon after his successful completion of the South African Comedy Academy in 2012. His passion for comedy proved to be an even bigger dream than his current job at the time and he walked away from his post as a computer systems engineer. After just a year in professional stand-up comedy, Skholo can already note big comedy stages like the Soweto Comedy Festival Vaal tour, the Tshwane Comedy Nights, the Just Nje Comedy nights as some of his career launchers. One of his dreams is to build a comedy empire in the Vaal and is doing so by hosting the Vaal Comedy Nights. He is currently working on his biggest career move thus far, The Vaal Comedy Festival under the mentorship of Kedibone Mulaudzi.
MUSIC MAIN ACT
The Soil is a four-member acapella singing group whose music can be best described as ‘Kasi Soul’. The Soil strives to fuse their voices to deliver melodic and harmonious messages that are aimed at uplifting and healing souls all around the world. The group members are Buhlebendolo Mda, Luphindo Ngxanaga and Ntsika Fana Ngxanga, who are occasionally also supported by two backing vocalists, Asanda and Tshwarelo.
The group’s music features an eclectic mix of musical genres such as jazz, hip hop, Afro-pop and Afro-soul. The group’s musical style is evident in its rhythmic vocal bass line, with constant beat boxing – a district feature in the music – whilst the remaining voices contribute to the choral and polyphonic accompaniment. Equally, each group member takes turn in solo vocal performance to display their most beautiful rendition of the melodic verses in each song.
Catch The Soil at THE OPERA THEATRE, STATE THEATRE on 27 June 2015 at 20:00