Women empowering women at this year’s Vavasati International Women’s Festival @sastatetheatre

“Wathinta umfazi, wathinta imbokodo” is an adage associated with the struggles and victories of South African women. This is exactly what will be showcased at this year’s Vavasati International Women’s Festival, taking place from August 9 until 29 August, at the South African State Theatre in Tshwane.

The 20 000 women of all races and from all backgrounds who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9, in 1956, were of the highest calibre and this will be mirrored on stage during the festival. Instead of raising their opinions against the carrying of passes by women, these artists will be using dance, music, drama and the spoken word to portray pertinent messages that affect today’s women.

The Vavasati International Women’s Festival will be kicked off by a seminar on August 9, at Rendezvous, State Theatre. It entails an cross-generational transfer of hope as women are encouraged to embrace and use their feminine influence and to discover the power of their passions. This is a sisterhood where each woman is encouraged to tell a story that can inspire others.

#Mute is a debate about the ever-present connection between politics and social issues in South Africa. The narrative is revealed through the tale of young women by the name Puseletso, showing at The Arena on the August 11, 13 and 15.

Women’s Liberation – Isililo Sabafazi takes to the Arena stage on August 12, 14 and 15, telling the story of one of the most celebrated women activists, Dr Charlotte Maxeke, who gave birth to the highly influential Bantu Women’s League, which would later be known as the African National Congress’ Women’s League.

Just as engaging is Diamond Mokoape’s Silent (at the Arena), a story about girl who harbours a painful past, filled with disappointment and mistrust. She has to dig into the very same past if she hopes to ever lead a normal life and create a new identity and destiny for herself.

On August 18, 20 and 21, the Intimate Theatre is the venue for The Fake Zulu Median, a one-woman comedy show which follows the life of a young Zulu maiden who is regarded as fake by society, as she is thin on the inside, but compensates by being thick on the outside. This reflective piece perfectly demonstrates the many faces a woman can have, some of which are not easily accepted. Weight, race, unemployment, sexuality and other often taboo topics are hilariously tackled in this production.

Seity Violent Echoes and Scores is as unconventional as plays come, as it traces elements of violence within relationships and how this affects couples. This is the perfect vehicle to express outrage when it comes to violence against women. The piece is on at the Satchmo’s Court Yard on August 20, 21 and 22.

The fringe programme of the Vavasati International Women’s Festival is an extension of the main shows, as it further highlights everyday topics that women are faced with. Elkehof Ladies is a truly hilarious look at the female cleaners that have become part of universities in South Africa. As the workplace is no longer just a boys club, women have to do what they can to take care of their families as well. Catch it at the Arena, on August 25 and 27.

Dance will be duly represented by productions such as Iwa Lewa, choreographed by Bafikile Sedibe. It is a conversation about what the so-called ideal spouse should be and why this is an absurd idea. Taking over the Arena on August 22 and 29, the dance piece is set to show that a good character is far better than any other physical trait. Just as unmissable is Ayanda Sithebe’s Historical Journey, choreographed by Themba Mathabela. This production tracks our history, fusing African contemporary dance with cultural songs. It runs at the Arena on August 22 and 29.

From wage negotiations to the liberations struggle, music has always been part of being South Africa, and the Vavasati International Women’s Festival is no exception as it brings only the finest when it comes to talented voices.

Pascaline Modiba is an urban gospel and jazz artist who will dazzle with her incredible vocal range and an ability to cross over genres. Modiba struts her stuff at the State Theatre Fountain on August 14. The same day and the same venue will see Blue Velvet Jazz Band perform their signature sounds, known for hypnotising their audiences anywhere they perform.

And what would a lady be without her threads? Young artists are given a platform to showcase their wares on the catwalk. Those in the audience can purchase whatever is on show. The Vavasati Fashion Show is curated by Gontse Moagi and will take place on August 29 at transvalia.

The eyes continue to be treated to an array of colour and texture as an art exhibition will be hosted at the Arena Bar by Revillusion Art Gallery. Be sure to witness Optical Illusion 3D Art.

Visit www.statetheatre.co.za.

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