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WOMEN’S ARTS FESTIVAL 2007 (article first published : 2007-06-17)

The Playhouse Company has announced details of its 11th South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF) which runs at The Playhouse in Durban from July 31 until August 12 2007. A showcase for the impact women make on the lives of South Africans, SAWAF has become a landmark event on Durban’s cultural calendar. True to form, this year’s festival comprises cutting edge productions of poetry, music, comedy and drama, showcasing the talents of noted women in their fields of performance art.

SAWAF’s 2007 programme opens with a Pan African Women’s Day and Launch of Women’s Month conference in the Drama theatre on July 31. Presented by the Playhouse Company in-association with the Office of the Premier and the African Renaissance, this will feature a number of leading role players and decision makers, including Gcina Mhlophe, Queeneth Mkhabela, Krijay Govender, Nombuso Maphalala, Nana Ngobese, Nonzwakazi Swaartbooi and Linda Bukhosini.

Shelley Barry’s dipping inside elephant’s eye will be presented in the Grand Foyer from August 2 to 4. Billed 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 word, culminating in an audio visual sensory experience.

Another production that promises to be a compelling theatre experience is In The Continuum, to be presented in association with the Consulate General of the United States of America, in the Drama Theatre from August 3 to 5. 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.

Ralph Lawson returns to direct Master Class, US playwright Terrence McNally’s contentious 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. This dark-hued comedy drama plays in the Loft from August 7 to 11. It also features well-known Durban concert pianist Andrew Warburton as the accompanist who appears in the production, making in a rare appearance in a play as Callas’s accompanist. Casting also includes Thandulwazi Ncube as Sophie.

Enlivening SAWAF’s elements of high performance art, a triple bill of stand-up comedy is up for grabs in the Drama on August 11 and 12. Queens of Comedy features three of SATV’s most popular 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 on August 11, starring two Durban-born Gospel divas, Deborah Fraser and Hlengiwe Mhlaba.

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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