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WOMEN’S ARTS FESTIVAL (article first published : 2006-07-21)

The Playhouse Company proudly presents its 10th annual International Women’s Arts Festival between August 10 and 20, with its main focus taking place over the weekend of August 11 to 13.

Conceived and run as a showcase for the vital impact that women make on the daily lives of South Africans, this has become a landmark event on this country’s cultural calendar. True to form, this year’s festival comprises cutting edge productions by women of dance, music and drama, showcasing leading talents in their fields.

Side By Side, a major new dance production commissioned by the Playhouse Company, showcases the collaborative creativity by leading Durban choreographers: S’bonakaliso Ndaba with her Phenduka Dance Theatre and Lliane Loots with her Flatfoot Dance Company. Their exploration through dance of women’s spirituality is a meeting of dance styles and visions that will blow audiences away.

The drama component of the festival is occupied by three acclaimed productions. Malika Ndlovu’s A Coloured Place, first commissioned by the Playhouse Company for the South African Women’s Arts Festival in 1996, makes a triumphant return to the Playhouse stage ten years down the line. Hailed by the Sunday Tribune as “vibrant…alive… a hoot of derision at our long-time oppressors,” it remains relevant today as it focuses attention on women in the community who still have to find a voice. Performances are in the Drama on August 4 and 5.

Motshabi Tyelele’s Shwele Bawo (A Grave Injustice) plays in The Loft on August 3, 5, 10 and 11. Presented as an appeal hearing of a young woman accused of killing her husband, this attention-grabbing show exposes the role of the media in society, as well highlighting issues that affect women, such as our flawed judicial system, moral regeneration, and traditional values vs modern attitudes.

Krijay Govender’s acclaimed three-hander, Women in Brown, stars leading actresses Thahira Sayed, Leeanda Reddy and Sankaree Devi Govender. It looks at the private moments of three women, each experiencing what is means to be ‘brown’ and ‘female’ in South Africa. Performances are in the Drama on August 4, 5, 10 and 11.

Women at the Heart of Change is the challenging topic of this year’s SAWAF conference, to be held in the Drama on 12 August. The festival climaxes on August 13 with a concert in the Opera at 15h00 starring three of South Africa’s leading singers, Thandkiswa Mazwai, Judith Sephuma and Deborah Fraser.

“Thandiswa is one of the best combinations of songwriting talent and voice that I have had pleasure to work with in my 30 years in the music industry - an inspiring and joyful experience!” - wrote JP “Bluey” Maunick in Incognito. Uncompromising praise for an extraordinary talent, if ever there was…. Ever since she burst into the public’s consciousness as the lead vocalist and songwriter of award-winning group Bongo Maffin, multi-award winning Thandiswa has been an indelible part of the South African cultural landscape. Her participation in this year’s SA Women’s Arts Festival marks a red-letter day for music lovers in Durban this season.

Adding her own special lustre to the event, the appearance of Judith Sephuma (New Beginnings; A Cry, A Smile, A Dance) is itself cause for jubilation with her many fans in Durban.

Joining these two big-league vocalists for the afternoon’s stellar line-up onstage, Durban’s own Gospel diva Deborah Fraser makes a triumphant return to the Playhouse Opera after her widely popular appearance at last year’s festival.

Further information from the Playhouse Company’s Marketing Department on 031 369 9456 or email marketing@playhousecompany.com




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