Exciting and interactive

2013-04-09 00:00

AN award-winning South African film and a host of acclaimed plays are on offer at the 2013 KwaZulu-Natal Schools’ Festival at Hilton College on April 11 and April 12.

The annual event, which forms part of the National Schools Festival Series, is organised by the Grahamstown Foundation’s Arts Education Project.

Ingrid Wylde, who has taken over the reins of director for arts education, told The Witness that this year’s festival has much to offer in the line of comedy, music and drama.

“Exciting performances and stimulating lectures are not the end of the delegates’ exposure to the arts at these festivals,” she said. “Delegates are also able to have a hands-on interactive learning experience through various workshops that the artists themselves will be hosting.

“They will have the chance to develop and explore their creative potential practically, with the aim of learning how to use the arts to communicate and empower themselves.”

Durban writer-actor-director, Rajesh Gopie (Out of Bounds and The Coolie Odyssey), will present the keynote address at the opening of the festival. There will be a lecture by Rob Murray titled Listen With Your Eyes, and another by Rebecca Peyton titled Changing the World One Story at a Time.

Stage productions on the programme this year will include the following.

• The British play, Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister, starring Peyton and directed by Martin M. Bartelt, which reflects on the death of Peyton’s sister, Kate, a BBC journalist who was shot and killed by suspected Islamic radicals in 2005 in Somalia. The play was performed at the Musho! International Festival of One and Two Hander Theatre earlier this year and has since been touring the country.

• Murray’s two-hander, Pictures of You, meanwhile, tells the powerful story of a couple who are having problems communicating, and is delivered by two actors who don’t say a word. The play uses masks and puppets by Janni Younge, the Standard Bank young artist of the year for theatre 2010, and sound design by James Webb, Fleur du Cap 2012 winner, to tell its poignant tale.

• Horn of Sorrow is Nicholas Ellenbogen’s extraordinary piece of physical theatre, created in the mid-eighties, to highlight the plight of the rhino and the issue of poaching. Sadly, nothing could be more topical right now. The current production is directed by Brendan Grealy.

• STDiesel, presented by Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company and directed by Jess Harrison, is a raunchy production that explores the many facets of the sexual experience, from vulnerability to virginity, promiscuity, love, sexuality, sexual preference and sexual discovery.

This year’s festival also sees the introduction of film to the programme, through Sara Blecher’s Otelo Burning, which has been nominated for, and won, numerous awards at home and abroad.

Starring Thomas Gumede, Jafta Mamabolo and Sihle Xaba, this Durban-based film is an emotional coming-of-age story about township kids learning to surf. Set against the backdrop of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, it looks at the enormous potential for change at the time of apartheid’s downfall — all seen through the eyes of a child.

After the screening, pupils will be able to engage in a discussion about the film led by Xaba.

“South Africa has a vibrant, growing film industry, which is increasingly competitive internationally,” Wylde said. “It builds the country’s heritage by telling its own stories, and plays an important role in communicating ideas and information.

“The film industry also provides a forum for debate and discussion, as well as information that is essential for South Africa’s youth’s participation in community life.”

• For more information on the 2013 KwaZulu-Natal Schools’ Festival at Hilton College or the Standard Bank National Schools’ Festival that takes place in July in Grahamstown for Grade 12s, e-mail Lily May at lily.may@foundation.org.za or phone 046 603 1107, or e-mail Benita Rama at benita.rama@foundation.org.za or phone 046 603 1122.

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