Zest from the Fest

FIERY PREFORMANCE: Zewande Bhengu, 4th year Dramatic Arts, and Lebogang Shikwambane, 3rd year LLB, performing the play Fire: Burn at the Nunnery. Photo: Prelene Singh

FIERY PREFORMANCE: Zewande Bhengu, 4th year Dramatic Arts, and Lebogang Shikwambane, 3rd year LLB, performing the play Fire: Burn at the Nunnery. Photo: Prelene Singh

A FULL package of straight drama, music and physical theatre can be expected by audiences attending the Wits 969 Festival currently running at the Wits Theatre and Nunnery.The 969 Festival kicked off last week Tuesday and will end on July 21.

Zewande Bhengu and Lebogang Shikwambane performing the play Fire: Burn at the Nunnery. Photo: Prelene Singh

Zewande Bhengu and Lebogang Shikwambane performing the play Fire: Burn at the Nunnery. Photo: Prelene Singh

The festival, which features productions that were performed at the National Arts Festival, is celebrating their 10th anniversary by feeding the appetites of culture hungry audiences in Joburg. The festival saves local theatre enthusiasts the 969km slog to Grahamstown.

Wits Theatre director Gita Pather said: “The theatre is an arena of contestation of opinions, of ideas, of world views, of realities.”

“Apart from offering Joburg the chance to see some great shows from the [National Arts] Festival, it also provides performers with the ability to extend the life of their plays,” said Pather.

Close-up of actors faces to represent the emotion conveyed in the play of the struggles people go through in relationships. Photo: Prelene Singh

Close-up of actors faces to represent the emotion conveyed in the play of the struggles people go through in relationships. Photo: Prelene Singh

This year’s 969 Festival includes some experienced directors like James Ncgobo, Jenine Collocott and Princess Mhlongo, who won the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama.

Tonight at the Nunnery, Phillip M. Dikotla’s Skierlik will be performed. Dikotla is a “unique South African voice” and was the best production winner at the 2013 Zabalaza Festival and was a 2012 Arts and Culture Trust award winner.

Skierlik has received rave reviews and standing ovations. The production takes the audience on a journey through the eyes of Thomas, the son of an Afrikaner farmer, in January 2008. The play is based on a horrific massacre that occurred in Swartruggens in North West three years ago.

A must see portrayal of the life we live. A trip down memory lane for most people. Photo: Prelene Singh

A must see portrayal of the life we live. A trip down memory lane for most people. Photo: Prelene Singh

Audiences can also catch Writer’s Block, directed by Witsie Nicky Rebelo and performed by Jennifer Steyn.

The production follows the struggle of Terry Rankin, a teacher of creative writing who faces writer’s block after she leaves South Africa following the death of her partner.

Audiences will be taken on the road of nostalgia, suppressed emotions and discovery, said Pather.
Both these shows will be performed this weekend. Audiences should expect serious drama, a walk down memory lane and potent social acts.

“Nobody walks away from a performance unchanged”, said Pather.

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