In June 1976, South African youth protested against Apartheid with the quest for quality and equal education being their driving force. About 40 years later (2015-16); post-Democracy youth reignited that quest with the #FeesMustFall movements.
In commemoration of the youth of June 1976 and 2015/16; the State theatre used this month to ‘open the doors of culture’ by streaming youthful productions from 15th June to 05th of July 2020. Many of these productions are annual programmes from the Incubator Programme through the Education, Youth & Community Training Department of SAST, which is designed to accelerate the successful transition of semi-professional entrepreneurial artists through an array of business, technical and artistic mentorship.
This year is no different, the theatre has programmed; Freedom the Musical, a ground breaking musical by the State Theatre’s Artistic Director and multi-award winning playwright, Aubrey Sekhabi. A strong cast of 47 members and a thirteen piece band tell the story of Phindile Ndlovu, a Tshwane University of Technology student and leader of #Fees Must Fall movement. Phindile’s life takes a sharp turn after the student protest at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. This story is a testament to her determination to triumph despite the odds stacked against her by the system and society at large. She will stop at nothing to fight for the freedom of students, for free education and ultimately her own freedom. ‘Freedom’ also examines the crime and violence that is rife in our modern day society and tackles difficult issues; rape, abuse against women, racism, xenophobia, corruption, and many other issues that cost us our Freedom. The play premiered at the State Theatre in the year 2018.
The critically acclaimed play, The Fall will be headlining to also commemorate Youth Month this June. The production has been created by seven University of Cape Town’s Drama Graduates who were at the forefront of the movement, they share their personal experiences during the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and subsequent student movements that swept South Africa during 2015 and 2016.
A visual art exhibition doccie; Artdiction 0.1 by Anathi Nkanyuza is also featured in the programme. The self-taught smoke artist Anathi Nkanyuza, affectionately known as Elpee, burst the newsfeed with his rare visual art technique when he exhibited under the Incubator Programme at State Theatre in 2018 and Mzansi Fela Festival in 2019. Using only a candle and paraffin lamp, he applies fire and smoke on paper to turn pieces of colour into something the world has never seen before. His installations feature a series of self-portraits which depict his love for art on how it impacts his life negatively and positively. Following his impressive work of the Artdiction exhibition in 2018, Elpee was selected by the theatre to showcase his installation at the 2019 National Arts Festival, held in Makhanda.
Torsten Tebogo Rybka, known on stage as Clear aka Clear as Fire brings a poetry production; Speaking from Experience (Growth). Speaking from Experience is a journey on the wings of poetry and music. Presented by the State theatre and supported by a live band, a poet’s voice soars to share his life-time experiences and of others. The production is described as an emotional journey of awareness.
Patrons should also be reminded that as part of the Youth Month celebration, Salt Art of the Earth exhibition by the Guinness record holder, Percy Maimela and Ncamisa Nqana “A Bird with Melodies” jazz performance, are currently showing on The South African State Theatre You Tube channel until 07 and 13 June respectively.
The State Theatre remains unshaken in its vision to cement itself as a prestigious theatre of choice in offering a distinctly Pan-African experience “The theatre of Africa.” This is evident in its programming that continues to hit home for many audiences.
All these productions will be streamed on YouTube. Viewers are encouraged to subscribe to theatre’s YouTube channel on the link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgyEcxGJaQ2376NJ_6aqH7A