TAAC’s bursary winners thrive in 2016
It has been an exceptionally successful year for the four recipients of the Theatre Arts Admin Collective’s (TAAC) Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary. Four original and diverse productions will have been created and staged by the end of the year.
In June, Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and Jason Jacobs staged their bursary productions to great acclaim. Mokgonyana chose to direct Athol Fugard’s My Children My Africa which was staged intimately at the TAAC, reflecting with frightening accuracy of what’s been happening on South African university campuses in recent months, despite the play being 27 years old.
“The bursary presented me with many opportunities I have never anticipated,” says Mokgonyana. “During my time at the TAAC I managed to work, network and present my work to everyone from theatre giants to upcoming theatre makers from different backgrounds and that experience is something that I will never exchange for anything.”
Subsequent to this support, Mokgonyana has been involved in various projects including directing Dr John Kani’s Nothing But the Truth for The Playhouse in Durban and Tswalo/Source: A narrative poem performed at the Alexander Bar in Cape Town. Currently, he is directing Complexion which will be performed at Popart Theatre in October, as well as Naledi Best Newcomer winner Menzi Mkhwane’s Finding Melo at the Joburg Theatre in November. Mokgonyana also created an adaption of Sophocles’ Antigone entitled Just Antigone, which is continuing to travel to schools around the country as part of the Assitej mentorship programme. Mokgonyana is just 22 years old.
Jason Jacobs brought a unique aesthetic to his bursary project In Wag (Van), the story of a woman whose son goes missing exploring the complex tussle between devotion to faith and the fear of death. Since his bursary he scooped a Cape Town Fringe Bronze Fringe Fresh Award for his remarkable Stof Rooi, which he co-created with performer Dustin Beck. Currently his new work But, the Land presented by The Papercut Collective is performing at Artscape under the New Voices programme.
Jacobs believes these bursaries help to shape the industry. “I truly hope the bursary remains and continues to carry on its legacy of building emerging theatre directors, supported by a collective of people supporting young talent,” he says.
The final two bursary winners for 2016, Wynne Bredenkamp and Ameera Conrad, are on the floor in the creation of their two new plays – Bredenkamp’s At the Edge of the Light and Conrad’s Reparation, which will be presented in mid November and early December at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. As part of the developmental process, readings of the two plays were held on the 24 September with engaging conversation, questions and thoughts for both writers.
At present, Bredenkamp is busy with rehearsals of At The Edge of The Light. With a stellar inter-generational cast made up of theatre and film actresses, Sarah Potter and Margot Wood, and headline dancers, Rehane Abrahams and Mbulelo Jonas, the play follows a girl hoping to find solace in the grandmother she remembers of her childhood. Instead, gran has shut herself away, scared of the noises in the dark, suspicious of the knocks at the door and terrified of the things that lie just at the edge of the light…
Through this tale, Bredenkamp, the creator of multi-award winning Salt, brings alive a delicate and familial story of loss, perception and the consequences of inherited behaviours.
Ameera Conrad’s Reparation comes close on the heels of the production she is currently in and has co-directed at the Baxter Theatre – The Fall – and this new work is in many ways its sequel and its nemesis. Reparation interrogates two key questions prevalent to the contemporary South African #feesmustfall context -“what debt is owed?” and “how is this debt repaid?” Reparation also looks at the role that young people and social media hold in social justice movements, and how popular culture can be used as a post-modern propaganda tool. Fast-paced, cutting and decisive, this play does not allow anyone to get away with anything.
Personified, Reparation is a clean-lined, iPhone edge. The new-aged theatre goer who only watches local content. It listens to Cassper Nyovest. It’s impolite. It’s loud. It’s got a potty mouth. It graduated from UCT in 2015. Stun grenades thrown were thrown at it outside Parliament. It will give you your tip when it gets its land. It’s got one bullet. It hunts Sparrows while tweeting. It drinks Lemonade and ice tea. It speaks in memes. It’s lit AF.