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Finding a place for female playwrights

first_imgCelebrated South African playwright, director and producer, Mokgoro Ntshieng, is hoping to bring the magic of theatre a little closer to home by inspiring women to play a major role in performance art.Celebrated South African playwright, director and producer, Mokgoro Ntshieng, is hoping to bring the magic of theatre a little closer to home by inspiring women to play a major role in performance artAlready established in performance art, Ntshieng has founded her own women’s theatre, Olive Tree Theatre Productions, in Alexandra township, in Johannesburg, Gauteng.Ntshieng has received a number of awards in recognition of her involvement and contribution to local theatre; these include the Standard Bank Young Artist award and the Standard Bank Best Youth Production award in 2009, for productions such as Umdlwembe, Veil of Tears and Thursday’s Child.FALLING IN LOVE WITH THEATREAfter she completed matric Ntshieng worked, in 2001, as an assistant librarian at a local library. She read stories to the children of her community.It was during these reading sessions that she conceived the idea to dramatise the stories the children loved. She organised young people in her community and soon began staging performances in local churches and school halls. She was just 20 years’ old.She moved on to holding training sessions for youngsters at the Thusong Youth Centre on 12th Avenue in Alexandra. She was then offered a job in 2007 at the Sibikwa Arts Centre and had to produce an original theatre production.She named the production Olive Tree, the inspiration for her organisation’s title.Without any formal training, this self-taught, ambitious woman began working her way to the forefront of South African theatre. She’s been involved in productions staged at some of South Africa’s most noteworthy theatres, including the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg, and the Joburg Theatre.CHALLENGES FACING WOMEN IN THEATRENtshieng says that one of the biggest challenges she faced while trying to break into the male-dominated world of theatre production was dealing with men who battled with the changes in gender roles.We are barely 2 km from Sandton; we’re talking people who go to theatres every now and then. I’m hoping that this beautiful space will attract people from outside of Alexandra, whose conferences I attend and whose work I go and seeShe highlighted the lack of high profile female directors and producers in the country and strongly believes that this is one of the biggest problems in the field. “There isn’t enough focus being put on female directors in South Africa. I have been all over the country watching and participating in theatre productions and I have seen so much raw, beautiful and sometimes professional work by black female directors who can’t break into the industry because they can’t access the right platforms.“These young women who have so much to offer become demoralised by their lack of recognition and get tired and end up channelling their energy into other things.”Ntshieng emphasises the need to provide platforms for up-and-coming talent as well as prepare them for the challenges that they’ll face as black female directors in the industry.She says she looks to women like Warona Seane, the new artistic manager at the Soweto Theatre, and Annabell Sebethe, Market Theatre CEO, for inspiration when the yoke gets a little heavy.ROOM TO GROWHaving recently acquired a space on the outskirts of Alexandra near the Pan African Shopping Centre, Ntshieng has already pictured what she intends to do with it.“I want it to be something that the people of this township can talk about with pride and smile at the thought of it being something that they can call their own, for its people by its people,” she said as she walked through the bare space.“We are barely 2 km from Sandton; we’re talking people who go to theatres every now and then. I’m hoping that this beautiful space will attract people from outside of Alexandra, whose conferences I attend and whose work I go and see, to come into Alexandra and experience the vibe and professional work that is being done here in Alexandra.”“One of my biggest dreams is to tell the stories of black people living in the townships as seen through their eyes and build a culture of theatre going within the townships where there is so much talent and potential,” says Ntshieng.However her joy is tempered by apprehension that turning the space into the beautiful venue she has envisioned will require major investment. She says funding for the project has been very hard to come, having being turned down by a number of prospective investors.Having recently acquired a space on the outskirts of Alexandra near the Pan African Shopping Centre, Ntshieng has already pictured what she intends to do with itNtshieng has also had problems finding funding for a theatre festival she has planned for later this year. She hopes to have the event in her new space but admits that this may not be possible due to the lack of infrastructure. It may have to be held in a hall at the National School of Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.PASSION FOR EMPOWERMENTNtshieng’s passion for theatre is evident in how she speaks about why she works so hard for development in the field.“I do what I do because I love it, because I’m passionate about it and because I want to tell these stories. For me theatre is more like a calling than a job because sometimes I feel that it’s not me who finds these stories to tell but it’s the stories that find me instead.”Armed with an iron will and an unshakable determination to bring women to the forefront of the industry, Ntshieng says she will not rest until passionate women become a major part of the driving force behind South African theatre and performance art.For more information on Olive Tree Productions, call + 27 (0) 11 079 4153 or+27 (0) 73 5919567, or email [email protected] or [email protected]last_img read more


Bafana and Mozambique to kick off Chan 2014

first_imgThe mascot for the CAF African Nations Championship or Chan 2014 is this hippo dressed as a soccer player. (Image: CAF)MEDIA CONTACTS• Eric MwanzaCAF Media Officer Cape Town+ 27 612593821Ray MaotaWith its sophisticated infrastructure and experience in successfully hosting major international tournaments, South Africa has become the go-to country in Africa for continental and world sporting events. This year, it’s the turn of the CAF African Nations Championship, or Chan 2014, which kicks off in Cape Town on 11 January.A 16-team competition of African nations, with players drawn exclusively from the different countries’ domestic leagues, the tournament runs from 11 January to 1 February 2014, with matches held in three South African cities. Bafana Bafana will face Mozambique in the opening game at Cape Town Stadium at 18h00 on Saturday.See all the Chan 2014 fixturesMiller Matola, chief executive of Brand South Africa, welcomed the 15 other African teams to South Africa. “With games being played in Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Polokwane, visitors to our country will have an opportunity to experience our diversity and the unique quality of the different provinces,” he said. “However, the welcome of our people remains the same throughout the country and all South Africans look forward to hosting our visitors.”Matola said South Africans had demonstrated their warm hospitality and love of the beautiful game during the 2009 Confederations Cup, 2010 Fifa World Cup, and 2012 African Cup of Nations.“We are all ambassadors for this country so let us play our part and be good hosts during the Chan tournament.” The tournamentDuring the group stages of Chan 2014, two matches will be played every day from 11 to 22 January.The four groups making up the tournament will play in three different South African cities. Group A is made up of South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, as well as Mali, Nigeria and Mozambique, and will play in Cape Town. Group B – Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Burkina Faso – will also play in Cape Town.Group C, made up of Ghana, Congo, Libya and Ethiopia, will play in Bloemfontein in the Free State, and Group D – DRC, Mauritania, Gabon and Burundi – in Polokwane, Limpopo.The Chan tournament was not originally on Fifa’s calendar as it restricted which players could represent each country. But Fifa has since announced that matches will have full Fifa status, meaning they will count towards country world rankings. South African preparationsBafana Bafana’s preparations started with a hiccup as some clubs were reluctant to release their players. This was quickly resolved, and national coach Gordon Igesund has declared himself happy with the preparations.“The challenge is to get Bafana going to a point that we get into the top eight in Africa, so that we can be seeded when the draw for big tournaments is made,” Igesund said.“After beating Spain, we should carry on with the habit of winning and [the African Nations Championship] is a type of tournament where it is important for the team to do well.”Igesund stressed that crowd support will be important to Bafana’s success.“Nothing is more inspiring to a footballer than having a packed stadium behind him. We face tough opposition, but I am looking forward to winning the tournament.”Fikile Mbalula, minister of sport and recreation, visited the squad at their base camp in Cape Town on 9 January to wish them well.“If you go with the mentality that teams have not sent strong players here you are going to be surprised by Mozambique,” he warned. “They will want to come here and embarrass you.“And you don’t want to appear as people who did not give their all and did not want to represent their country. I thought I needed to emphasise that point that we have pride in you, and we are confident that all of you will make this country of ours proud. Rewards come at the end, not at the beginning.”last_img read more