The Intensity of South African Theatre

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* a personal account By Barney Kanjela LUSAKA Windybrow was going under renovation and had new personnel. Vuyo Mapela, the CEO and Mpo Molepo, a member of the board of directors of Windybrow, decided to travel and go round the SADC countries to meet other artistes and find areas of mutual interest for cultural exchange in theatre. Originally they suggested that some of the actors/actresses come from Zambia and the rest from South Africa. Eventually it was decided that it was going to be an all-South African contingent. Windybrow bought return air tickets to and from South Africa using South African Airways, 5 star hotel accommodation at Garden Park, Mil Park and transport while in Johannesburg. I left on 12th May 2006, seven days before the premiere and came back on the 21st May 2006. Two days after my arrival, I was given 50% of the script commissioning fee and two days before I left I was given the other 50%. My 10% of loyalty fees has not been paid yet. This was supposed to have been sent seven days after the last performance. The last performance was on 11th June 2006. On the day of the production premiere, there was a seminar/workshop for the audience, artistes and reporters in the small auditorium before the show started in the main auditorium. The moderator was the Windybrow artistic director Mcedisi. On the panel were I and the director of Socks and Toothpaste Rapulana Seiphemo. We got grilled and came out tops. I attended rehearsals and was privileged to contribute during the rehearsals and they took advantage of my presence to understand some of the things in the script which are typical to Zambian. E.g., Bana Chimbusa. Then they domesticated the production. Two days before the performance a meeting was organized and I was invited to attend. It was a meeting between the CEO, myself and the director. I am glad that Mr Seiphemo is a professional and very receptive. Probably that is why he is successful. He gladly accepted crit icism and new ideas to the production from me and the CEO (Vuyo Mapela). During rehearsals, discipline was of very high standards. The director was a smiling “dictator”. A very positive and learned director. I found the stage, props, costumes and make-up of very high standards, especially the stage. From a photo, you would think the scene was enacted in a house and not on stage. Theatres in South Africa are not clubs but companies. Actors and actresses perform for both stage and movies. Almost the entire cast is seen in South African soaps and movies. The government helps theatre clubs with the infrastructure allowing the artistes to concentrate on what they are good at. Performing! For special works, they hire experts in the respective field. E.g. marketing the production, selling tickets, lighting, etc.

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