The art of afroculture

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

A stage performance called Afrocartography: Traces of places and all points in between launched at the Wits Theatre on Friday July 19, as part of its 30th birthday celebrations. Produced in conjunction with the Wits Repertory Company, the piece is billed as an explorative and truly African performance piece.[pullquote align=”right”]“Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,”[/pullquote]

The main character is Traveller, who takes the audience on a mystical journey of self-discovery. The play takes its audience through a walking route around the Wits Theatre. “It serves as a walking metaphor to capture the essence of travelling, identity, location” as an African person, said co-director Khayelihle Dom Gumede.

Afrocartography carries overriding themes of migration in Africa. The experiences of black people who were faced with dislocation and its emotional consequences are depicted in the stage performance. The play incorporates issues faced by African people through the decades on this continent.

Phumzile Sitole, a graduate from UCT plays the role of Traveller and Tshego Khutsoane, a Wits graduate, plays the map maker who directs The Traveller in her journeys.

The performance is written by Mwenya B Kabwe. She co-directed the play with Gumede, who won the Emerging Theatres Directors’ bursary from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. Liya Gonga choreographed the performance.

Kabwe is a well-travelled, Zambian-born writer who has studied at many institutions in the UK and South Africa, including UCT. Gumede said the play was based on Kabwe’s journey in different parts of the world and it was her experiences that led her to “redirect her identity and her journey as a ‘politan’ of various kinds”.

The performance has been described as “Afropolitan” and as an alternative way of being in the world.

The play was first shown in Barcelona in 2009 and again in Cape Town, said Gumede. However, this was the first time it was having a full run. The play took seven weeks to produce, from rehearsal to performance night, said Gumede.

Audiences can expect a mixture of mystery, curiosity, humour and a suitcase of emotion. “Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,” said Gumede.

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Kentridge gives art lessons in Braamfontein

William Kentridge gave the first six lectures at Harvard University. Photo: Provided

William Kentridge gave the first six lectures at Harvard University. Photo: Provided

THE MOVEMENT from artistic imagery to the spoken word is the reason for the significant interest in the William Kentridge lecture series currently being held the Wits theatre in Braamfontein.

Internationally acclaimed South African artist Kentridge has been hosting a lecture series since 20 June. Tickets have been sold out every night and some famous faces were even spotted in the audience.

The lecture series entitled “The Five drawing Lessons by William Kentridge” draws from philosophical epistemology, knowledge and art practice.

One would not think that art would create interest in the mainstream public however from the very first evening, was packed to capacity with people keen listen to one of SA’s most prolific and celebrated artists.

Internationally acclaimed Kentridge caught captured in the moment producing some of his most renowned work. Photo: Provided

Internationally acclaimed Kentridge caught captured in the moment producing some of his most renowned work. Photo: Provided

Gillespie added that Kentridge conducts activities in his lectures. He uses visuals and sound to break from the monotony of a lecture in order to immerse the audience in the heavy content spoken addressed in the lectures.

Gillespie said the lecture series was initially presented at Harvard University in 2012. She said that sometimes local artists tend to showcase their work abroad more often than they do locally. Kentridge is doing these lectures for the local public for free.

Kentridge is also a Wits alumnus. He obtained a BA degree from the university where he majored in Politics and African Studies.

Kentridge with one of his artworks. Kentridge visited Wits University to give a lecture series on art. Photo: Provided

Kentridge with one of his artworks. Kentridge visited Wits University to give a lecture series on art. Photo: Provided

His work is very content-dependent which draws on his South African upbringing during the years of apartheid. Kentridge is best known for his print work and animated films.

The “Five drawing lessons by William Kentridge” is part of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism session on “The Life of Forms.”

The lecture series started on June 20 and will come to a close on 2 July. Bookings are essential at www.jwtc.org.za.