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SA WOMEN’S ARTS FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-07-30)

It’s all systems go in Durban for the Playhouse Company’s 11th South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF). This runs at the Playhouse from July 31 until August 12, featuring cutting edge productions of poetry, music, comedy and drama that spotlight the work of women noted in their fields of performance art.

SAWAF’s 2007 programme kicks off with an opening by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr S’bu Ndebele, and the provincial government during the celebration of the Pan African Women’s Day and launch of Women’s Month in the Drama Theatre on July 31. This event, presented by the Office of the Premier in association with the Playhouse Company and the African Renaissance, will feature a number of leading role players and decision makers.

Shelley Barry’s dipping inside elephant’s eye will be presented in the Playhouse’s Grand Foyer as a mini-anthology of visual poetry recitation. This explores the themes of woman and the body in a production that utilizes a combination of visuals and text and spoken work, culminating in an audio visual experience. Performances are on August 2 at 20h00, August 3 at 20h00 and August 4 at 14h00. Tickets R40.

Presented in association with the Consulate General of the United States of America, In The Continuum can be seen in the Playhouse Drama Theatre on August 3 at 11h00 and 19h30, August 4 at 19h30 and August 5 at 15h00. This cutting edge two-hander is written and performed by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter and directed by Robert o’Hara. It showcases its two fiery, intelligent and funny actors in portrayals of dozens of characters as it envelopes the audience in a story of parallel denials and self-discovery that women must negotiate in the age of HIV/Aids. Tickets R45 (R30 Sunday matinee).

Ralph Lawson directs Masterclass, US playwright Terrence McNally’s Tony-Award winning stage work about Maria Callas. The new Playhouse production stars multi-award winning Durban actress Clare Mortimer as opera’s legendary superstar in the twilight years of her career. Playing opposite Mortimer in the leading role, are gifted young Durban sopranos Thandulwazi Ncube and Khumbuzile Dlamini and tenor Mhlaba Buthelezi as the three students taking part in Callas’ master class. Andrew Warburton is the accompanist, and Robert Petersen plays a stage hand in the production. Performances are in the Playhouse Loft on August 7 and 8, at 19h00, and on August 11 at 15h00 and 19h00. Tickets R70. The production is subject to an age restriction of 16 years.

Adding a special dash of festival levity and fun to SAWAF’s elements of high performance art, Queens of Comedy offers a triple bill of stand-up comedy in the Drama theatre on August 11 at 20h00 and August 12 at 15h00. This features three of SATV’s most popular stage and media divas, Krijay Govender, Jayloshini Naidoo and Leeanda Reddy. Early booking is advised, this one is sure to gather a popular following as the three well-known personalities spark each other’s comedic gifts.

And bringing the festival to a climax is a Gala Concert in the Opera Theatre on August 11, starring two Durban-born Gospel divas, Deborah Fraser and Hlengiwe Mhlaba. Both are considerable stars in their own right and the Playhouse Company is proud to feature these two high-powered entertainers on its main stage in one evening. So stand by for a blast of inspiration as these two fine artists pull out the stops for their numerous fans. Tickets R80, R90 and R110.

Booking for all SAWAF productions is through Computicket or the Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540. For further information, contact the Playhouse Company’s Marketing Department on 031 369 9456 or e-mail marketing@playhousecompany.com




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