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Monday, July 22, 2019


Exciting drama, music and dance as well as crafts, topical discussions and fun, free entertainment have been confirmed by Durban’s Playhouse Company for the 23rd South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF), an event coinciding with August being Women’s Month.

Celebrating works performed, created or inspired by women, this year’s event will be held, as usual, in various venues in the city-centre Playhouse complex, from Wednesday to Saturday, August 7 to 10, 2019.

The festival is an annual highlight on the calendar of The Playhouse Company, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, which embraces the government’s principles of social cohesion and nation-building.

(Right: Lisa Bobbert in "Shirley Valentine")

The SAWAF drama offering this year is a classic – Willy Russell’s celebrated comedy-drama, Shirley Valentine, which will be staged at 19h30 daily from Thursday to Saturday, August 8 to 10, in the Playhouse Drama.

By turns amusing and poignant, Shirley Valentine was turned into a popular film in 1989. It is a delightful play with an uplifting theme, focusing on an individual with lost dreams and a lack of purpose, who then discovers the opportunity and courage to change her life for the better.

Shirley Valentine stars Durban darling Lisa Bobbert (My Fair Lady, Abbamaniacs, Cabaret, Little Shop of Horrors, Glitter Girls, Into the Woods) in a tour de force performance that saw her receive three Durban Theatre Awards in 2008: Best Actress, Best Solo Performance and Best Comic Performance (Female).

Tickets for this must-see stage treat range in price from R120 to R150 and can be bought at the Playhouse box-office – phone 031 3699 596/40 – or online and at Pick N pay outlets via WebTickets (the customer support line is 086 111 0005).

(Left: Image from "Trafficked")

Also a must for the diary is Trafficked, a dance-drama by Phakama Dance Theatre, a professional dance company based at the Playhouse. The troupe was developed as part of the Playhouse’s Dance Residency Programme. Dancers Leagan Peffer, Nkanyiso Kunene and Sandile Mkhize form part of the dance troupe.

Mkhize, who is the dance company’s artistic director, has choreographed Trafficked, a work offering insight into the abduction of young girls who are forced into slavery and human trafficking. It is inspired by the story of Saartjie Baartman, who was exhibited as a freak show attraction in 19th-century Europe.

Trafficked will have festival performances in the Playhouse Loft on August 7 at 10h00, on August 8 at 10h00 and noon, on August 9 at 19h00, and on August 10 at 14h30 and 19h00.

Tickets R30 for 10h00 and noon performances and R80 for all other performances can be bought at the Playhouse box-office – phone 031 3699 596/40 – or online and at Pick N Pay outlets via WebTickets (the customer support line is 086 111 0005).

(Right: Dawn Thandeka King)

The festival’s music highlight will be the Traditional Extravaganza Concert at 19h00 on Women’s Day, August 9, in the Playhouse’s Opera.

Directed by award-winning Durban theatre personality Clare Mortimer, this concert will highlight such glittering talents as celebrated singer-actress and musician Tu Nokwe; internationally renowned and award-winning African ‘Queen of Ndebele’ music, Dr Nothembi Mkhwebane; maskandi groups Vumile Mngoma and Izingane Zoma; and, as the show host, popular musician, motivational speaker Dawn Thandeka King.

Tickets range in price from R120 to R150 and can be bought at the Playhouse box-office – phone 031 369 9596/40 – or online and at Pick N Pay outlets via WebTickets (the customer support line is 086 111 0005).

(Right: Lu Dlamini)

Among free festival events will be a Sundowner Concert on August 9 and 10 at 17h00 in the Playhouse Foyer.

On the Friday, the spotlight will be on The Lilitha Band, while the free Saturday Sundowner Concert will showcase jazz-soul singer Simthandile Mtolo, an SA Idols contestant from season 10, who has performed in theatre productions, featured at the MTN Jazz Festival (KZN) in 2012, and impressed at the Durban Business Fair Gala Dinner, opening for Mafikizolo, in 2013.

Mtolo will share the stage on Saturday with popular local singer Lu Dlamini, who has worked with Brenda Fassie, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Mango Groove, Steve Newman and Sankomota, among others. She composes her own music, with lyrics in Zulu, Portuguese and English, and in 2016 released her Ulimi-Lami album at Durban’s Playhouse.

Also among free events at the festival this year will be a colourful Kiddies Fun Day, from 11h00 on August 10, in the Playhouse’s A1 venue. Attractions will include entertainment by Madala Kunene and Mandla Mantsha.

A comprehensive display of crafts, curated by Hlengiwe Dube, will be in the Playhouse complex throughout the festival, while a free dialogue session, Mental Health Awareness, has been planned for 15h00 on August 9, in the Alhambra Room. Scheduled to tackle a theme of “don’t suffer in silence; don’t suffer alone; let’s talk”, it will feature contributions from social workers, a healthcare practitioner and a development manager at Black Umbrellas. Facilitation will be by Slindile Xhakaza, a dynamic youth mentor who advocates empowerment of women.

A free dialogue session titled Ethical Living, curated by Beatrice Okyere-Manu, has been scheduled for noon on August 10, in the Alhambra Room. Okyere-Manu is a senior lecturer at the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is the programme director for Applied Ethics and a member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians, the Theological Society of South Africa, Globethics and The Collaborative for HIV and Aids, Religion and Theology (CHART).

Ethical Living will focus on success stories of South Africans from different walks of life, people who have carved careers and raised families on principles based on ethical and sustainable living. Discussion will centre on ethics and moral values, particularly with regard to consumerism, sustainability, environmentalism, wildlife and animal welfare. The discussion panel will include Dr Herbert Moyo, a professor at the UKZN School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics; Zenande Khumalo, a young businesswoman whose main focus is business ethics; and Robin Opperman, who owns Umcebo Design, which creates artworks from recycled and reclaimed materials.

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