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Friday, February 18, 2022


(Janice Honeyman. Photo: Fiona McPherson))

Janice Honeyman beats the drum for new musical theatre composers.

One of South Africa’s foremost directors and theatre makers, Honeyman has taken on the role of mentor to assist the winners of the inaugural Cabaret and Beyond Festival in their quest to find their unique voices as artists while shining a light on new musical theatre writing as a popular genre.

An independent panel of judges selected Durbanite Leah Mari and Ntlantla Swana from Gqeberha to have their works receive grants for further development through a partnership between the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Mandela Bay Theatre complex in Gqeberha. The productions will premiere at the Nelson Mandela Bay Theatre complex in March this year and run for a subsequent season in Durban.

Honeyman’s dramaturgical assistance will enable Swana, alongside book writer Khanyisa Sigwanda, to shape their musical about the pressures of being the first-born child in an upper middle class South African family. Mari will also be mentored by Honeyman in writing both her music and her book, with assistance from Jaco Griessel as arranger, to realise her coming-of-age story told through the eyes of Amy and Zara; two lovebirds that find themselves moving to Cape Town and having to deal with unexpected events.

“The CAB initiative is giving young writers and composers a wonderful opportunity to develop their creative output, and the participants chosen have enormous talent! The way we’ve been working is intense, and these ladies both have unstinting drive and creativity. I really admire them and this initiative, which promises growth and development for original musical theatre in South Africa.” says Honeyman.

The project manager and curator of the CAB Festival, Roland Perold, is excited by the progress made. “This is the first time new musical theatre writers in South Africa have been afforded much-needed guidance and development space. It’s going to be a pleasure bringing these works in development to audiences in March. Our focus is not on spectacle and scenery but on telling intimate stories in the most effective, fun, and thrifty way. We want the audience to engage and enjoy while witnessing new artistic voices taking shape”.

Further details about the upcoming season will be released in the coming weeks.