August is Women’s Month and there’s no better way to honour the struggles, sacrifices and successes of women than to feast on the fine drama, dance, dialogue, music and entertainment on offer at the annual Playhouse Company’s SA Women’s Festival (SAWAF) in Durban, from 14 to 22 August.
This year’s festival takes on added significance as 2015 has been named the African Union’s year of women empowerment and The Playhouse Company is proud to play its own critical role in the whole campaign. Playhouse CEO and Artistic Director, Linda Bukhosini says she is excited about the eclectic mix at SAWAF this year.
‘Audiences will be inspired and entertained by a host of powerful, award-winning stage productions, some of which have enjoyed critical and phenomenal acclaim both here and abroad.
‘Add to this mix a mouth-watering programme of dance dramas, a gala concert featuring some of the biggest names in the music business, slam poetry, musical entertainment, children’s theatre and panel discussions, and you have a festival that caters for a wide variety of tastes and all members of the family.
‘The festival will focus very sharply and purposefully on the issues that impact on the advancement and empowerment of women, and the role women continue to play in our new democracy.’
The line up will run from 14 to 22 August at the Playhouse, and includes the following highlights:
A Woman in Waiting, by Thembi Mtshali, is a powerful biographical journey into the dark heart of what life was like for women in apartheid South Africa. Directed by former Standard Bank Young Artist, Yaël Farber, the show uses visual imagery, song, chanting and evocative action to relate an emotive and compelling story that is so much a part of the fabric of our history.
Coming straight from a highly successful run in New York, where the play featured in the First International Folksbiene Yiddish Festival in June, Santa’s Story is a moving, one woman show depicting Santa Pelham’s journey of courage, inspiration and hope. The story is enacted by her daughter, award-winning singer Aviva Pelham who has distinguished herself in several starring roles in opera, operetta, musicals and concerts both locally as well as in London, Paris and Israel.
Yet another must-see is Fishers of Hope, a relatively new South African play by multi award winning writer/director Lara Foot, which explores the meaning of hope in the African continent. This received rave reviews in the media when performed in Cape Town; one critic hailed it as a production ‘that sets a precedent to local theatre which will be hard to match.’ This is traditional African storytelling at its best, mixed with dance, music and video projections.
In addition to an exhilarating theatrical line up, the SAWAF festival also features events such as the Intergenerational Dialogue with Leeanda Reddy, Lliane Loots, Estelle Sinkins and Lebo Mashile as the facilitator. This dialogue will deliberate on the topic ‘glamorising the performing arts’, considering such themes as the responsibility of artists versus the celebrity fad, and why sexual violence and violence against women and girls is so prevalent on stage, television and film.
Music lovers who attend the Gala Concert are in for a special treat. This features a orchestra comprised predominantly of women,with a full female choir, Maskandi and Umbaqanga. The line-up includes some of the country’s finest musical talent, including Thandiswa Mazwai, Mahotella Queens, Sally Silver, Xolisa Dlamini, Vumile Mngoma and Khanyo Maphumulo.
During the Open Mic and Slam poetry session with Thuli Zuma and Bongani Mavuso, winning Slam poets from the Playhouse – including a selection of poets who entered the Open Mic section – will be given an opportunity to share their stories through the art of poetry, covering a wide range of contemporary issues. This event will include a Sundowner concert with Lucia Mthiyane and Khanyo Maphumulo.
Workshops on parenting, and a panel discussion on Men Standing against Violence on Women will educate and raise awareness, while a Theatre Day for Children will keep little ones occupied with activities like drumming, mask-making, face painting and dancing.
The High Tea for all women in the arts is another event not to be missed, with the Playhouse CEO and Artistic Director Linda Bukhosini as facilitator, and Michelle Constant, CEO of Business Arts South Africa, as the key note speaker.