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TAKING BACK THE STABLE (article first published : 2005-09-2)

Mbongeni Ngema will hold the first round of auditions for his upcoming musical, Taking Back the Stable, on September 3 and 4, from 10h00 to 17h00 each day at the Stable Theatre at 55 Alice Street in Durban’s Warwick area.

“We are holding these auditions at the beginning of Heritage Month,” Ngema points out, “because this musical is deeply about Heritage – not only ours as a city, a province, and a nation, but my own personal heritage, and that of many other great artists.”

In Taking Back the Stable, a group of young actors under the tutelage of Mbongeni Ngema and Jayashree Govender will create an original stage musical exploring the Stable’s history, methods, and ideals, and seeking to adapt the artistic techniques of protest arts to contemporary issues. Joseph Shabalala, Gcina Mhlophe, Strini Moodley, Nise Malange, Ronnie Govender, and Madala Kunene are among the South African cultural icons who will lend a hand in sharing historical narratives and teaching the youth. Unpublished poetry from poet laureate Mazisi Kunene will be transformed into new Afro-Indo hip-hop. Burton Naidoo, recent winner of an award for Best South African Pianist, is set to be musical director.

The project began when Mbongeni Ngema approached Jayashree Govender, widow of Stable founder Kessie Govender, last year and proposed creating a new play to honour Kessie’s memory and the part the Stable has played in the South Africa’s cultural landscape. She told Ngema that before Kessie passed away, an American filmmaker had discussed with him the making of a film with similar ideas. So they brought the two streams together.

The documentary film about the making of the musical will be shot on Hi-Definition (HD), will have its international premiere at next year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF), and will be broadcast on SABC2 during Heritage Month, September 2006. The documentary has also received funding from the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

The eThekwini municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts, Culture, and Tourism are among the major local cultural organizations who have pledged their support for the project. The city hosted the project’s successful launch at DIFF this past June.

Taking Back the Stable is an empowerment initiative being produced by a consortium of micro-BEE companies with a record of success in South African media. Both the theatre and film productions will include strong elements of youth training and development.

“Kessie would have been so pleased that this is finally happening,” says Jayashree Govender. “It’s so appropriate that we are beginning the process during Celebrate Durban! month. What would Durban be without the Stable Theatre?”

For more information contact Deon Maas, the Executive Producer of the project, at deon@meerkatmedia.co.za or on 083 260 3673.




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