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Saturday, June 27, 2015


(Pic by Val Adamson)

This year the 15th annual PANSA Young Performers project, funded by the KZN Dept of Arts & Culture and Rainbow, is presenting an innovative new home-grown work entitled Soldiers in the City which engages with the new emerging urban youth culture, and comes to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre for a short, 12 performance season, from July 3 to 12.

Two best friends, both excellent poets, compete in an underground slam poetry challenge, where they realise that words can be sharper, and more dangerous, than swords, and forgiveness and loyalty is more valuable than glory.

Soldiers in the City is a vibrant contemporary relevant story talking to pertinent youth-focused issues. The production examines the overt culture of the new generation which includes rhyming, beat-box, urban dance, music and public artwork like graffiti - much like the very popular STEP UP movie series. The production team for 2015 includes Themi Venturas (writer / director); Iain “Ewok” Robinson (creative consultant); Lucky Cele (co-writer); Daisy Spencer (choreographer); Des Govender (vocal coach); and Dawn Selby (musical director).

The script outline was written by Venturas, together with Ewok and Cele, and finalised after the casting was complete, enabling the script to be customized to allow the characters to speak with their own voice, and for the cast to showcase their particular talents.

The music was carefully chosen and is performed to a live band, the ever popular The Reals. The songlist includes Read all about it by Emile Sande, What a piece of work is man from the muical Hair, Soldier in the City by Aloe Blacc, My City by Toya De Lazy & Casper Nyovesi, Born for this by HHP, Liquideep and Teargas, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, Seasons of Love from the musical Rent, Something Inside so Strong by Labi Liffre & Lira, I’m only Human by Christina Perri-Human, Boss Zonke by Ricky Rix, Battle Cry by the Imagine Dragons Falling Slowly from the musical Once, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, Roar by Katy Perry, One Tribe by the Black Eyed Peas and Union by Sting & the Black Eyed Peas. The poetry for the ‘rap’ battles has been written by EWOK

“It is clear that more and more young people want to control their own destiny,“ observes director Themi Venturas. “This can be seen in the new youth culture, in the ‘K’ generation – which is full of revolutionary zeal and despondent anger directed at the older generation, who they perceive have not done enough to change their lives materially.”

Open auditions were held at Glenwood High and at the Hexagon in Pietermaritzburg to gather the best musical-theatre high-school performers to make up the cast. These are complemented by a professional band headlined by Barry Thomson who plays one of the teachers.

Spearheaded by PANSA, the Performing Arts Network of South Africa: KZN, the project ensures that the learners get a taste of working in the professional musical theatre arena. The project promotes discipline, develops confidence, and gives an opportunity to make lifelong friendships, and to learn a huge amount from the professionals.

PANSA is grateful to the Department of Arts and Culture of the Province of KZN along with RCL Foods (Rainbow Chicken) and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) and to Ian Schoeman and Glenwood High School.

Previous YPP projects have been: Curtain Up; One Voice; Grease; Oliver; Fiddler on the Roof; The Wiz; Annie; School of Rock SA; Big River; Hairspray; Seussical; Legally Blonde; Can You Feel It? and last year’s Footloose.

Soldiers in the City will run at the UKZN Sneddon Theatre from July 3 to 12. Over the years these shows have grown to be very popular with Durban audiences so booking is essential. Booking through Computicket outlets at Shoprite Checkers, by phone on 0861 915 8000 or online at

For further enquiries call PANSA KZN Regional Coordinator: Nelisa Mzimela. PANSA office on 031 201 4750 or email: