Grahamstown winners head to Joburg for 969 Festival @Witstheatre1 #969fest2015

The 969 Festival, which brings the best of the National Arts Festival to Johannesburg, has added more outstanding shows to an already brilliant line-up. These include two of the three Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award winners – productions that were recognised for their creativity, experimentation and innovation at the Grahamstown festival.

The ovation award winners that can soon be seen at Wits Theatre’s 969 Festival include: We Didn’t Come to Hell for Croissants: 7 Deadly New Stories for Consenting Adults featuring Jemma Kahn and Roberto Pombo, and directed by Lindiwe Matshikiza; Phala O Phala’s production of Kafka’s Ape, in which Tony Bonani Miyambo tells the tale of Red Peter, the ape who evolved into a human in five years.

The Market Theatre Laboratory’s taxi industry focus, Noord! – another new addition to 969 – was recognised in the Student Theatre category winning the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights at the National Arts Festival.

Besides Noord! the 969 Festival has also added Maishe Maponya’s iconic play Jika to the much-anticipated line-up.

The festival, which runs from 15 – 26 July 2015, promises Joburgers theatre productions that are thought-provoking, wacky and exciting.

Tickets cost between R25 and R80, and are on sale through Webtickets. For more information, visit www.wits.ac.za/witstheatre.

New Additions to the 969 Festival Line-up:

Jika centres around two young activists who are attempting to leave the country to train with the ANC in exile. Maishe Maponya’s play, co-directed and starring by Goitsemang Pholo and Styx Mokejane, will have two performances on 25 and 26 July at 12h30 in the Downstairs Theatre. This production is a triumphant tribute to South Africa’s fallen heroes, and those who contributed in many different ways to the country’s liberation. In grappling with the philosophy of critical consciousness, Jika attempts to show practical ways to get South Africa out of its political and economic quagmire after the “revolution”. Mokejane is a Market Theatre Laboratory graduate.

Set at Noord Taxi Rank in central Johannesburg, Noord!, directed by Clara Vaughan, tells the compelling story of a woman working as a taxi driver in an industry dominated by men. The play, powerfully performed by an ensemble of Market Theatre Laboratory second year students, uses the poetry of the streets and striking imagery to capture life and survival in the margins of the dirty, crazy, beautiful and dangerous city of Joburg. Created in collaboration with Kgafela oa Magogodi, Jaques Da Silva and Salome Sebola, this production is a funny and moving exploration of how gender, power and belonging are negotiated in public spaces. Noord played to standing ovations at the student Festival in Grahamstown. Catch Noord at the festival on 22 July at 17:00, 23 July at 20:15 and 24 July at 17:00.

International Shows:
The line-up includes Singarevva and the Palace by well-known Indian theatre and TV artist Laxmi Chandrashekar, a solo theatre adaptation of a novel by Dr C. Kambara, and a powerful depiction of the suffering of women in feudal India.

Other international shows include the hilariously heartbreaking off-Broadway play Ndebele Funeral, which brings to stage the music, dirt, and dreams of modern Soweto.

Alon Nashman, renowned Canadian actor plays two characters in Kafka and Son and Hirsch. Kafka and Son examines the complex relation between Kafka and his father while Hirsch depicts the colourful life and character of John Hirsch, an orphan of the Holocaust who emigrated to Canada and turned the tragedy of his childhood into live art.

Local Productions:
Kafka’s Ape based on A Report To An Academy is an intriguing interrogation on identity and what it means to be human. Directed by Phala O Phala, it stars Tony Miyambo as Red Peter who also happens to play a grief-stricken son attempting to come to terms with his father’s death in Cenotaph of Dan wa Moriri. Father Father Father is a zany Black comedy about three sisters locked in a basement awaiting their father. The question though is the waiting one of anticipation or dread? Toni Morkel, Joni Barnard and Roberto Pombo play the sisters.

Pombo is Jemma Kahn’s irreverent side kick in We Didn’t Come To Hell For The Croissants: 7 Deadly New Stories For Consenting Adults, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the international cult hit The Epicene Butcher with stories that seduce the sinless and astonish the immoral.

A completely different take on identity and what it means to be a man is made via the unique visions of three exceptional directors Quintin Wils, Sylvaine Strike, Megan Willson in Simply Sapiens, a play in 3 acts performed by Craig Morris and Greg Melvill-Smith. The innovative, cutting edge director Quintin Wils has two other shows at the festival: Smaarties with Jannes Erasmus as a man who finds himself in a psychiatric ward after the death of both of his parents and aLEXA, literally a “mobile thriller” with household TV personalities Carina Nel (Generations) and Vianney Farmer (Crave). Audience members get into a car with “Alexa” and into a totally immersive theatre experience.

Two girls going nowhere sitting on the side of a road is the setting for Actress and Girl, a whimsical and dark story about the kindness and cruelty of strangers.

Boegoespruit Ext 25 by 3rd and 4th year Wits School of Arts performance students focuses on people living in a coloured township somewhere, marginalised for different reasons and all hoping that winning a local talent show will rescue them from the poverty of their lives.

Inspired by Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Crossing directed by Mncedisi Shabangu explores the subject of death in the stories of five women. And in Dead Yellow Sands, the audience will meet ghosts from Graham Weir’s past, coming face to face with a South Africa that may be fading, but that lingers on in corners and alleys and institutions we all know well.

Music and poetry:
To round off a versatile, unconventional programme, Colombian Carlos Fernando Balanta’s showcases the complex cultural rhythms of his native country through percussion instruments, voice and drums. The performance called Baterimba has excited audiences all over the world.

For poetry lovers, a diverse selection of poetry tastes ranging from slam poetry to prose, free verse will be on offer under the Poetry Overload banner.

For more information, visit http://www.wits.ac.za/witstheatre . To buy tickets, go to www.webtickets.co.za .

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