Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Supplied
Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Supplied
Above and bottom: Island of Goree, directed and produced by Godfrey Thobejane, opening at the launch of the festival at The State Theatre on Friday. Picture: Supplied
Above and bottom: Island of Goree, directed and produced by Godfrey Thobejane, opening at the launch of the festival at The State Theatre on Friday. Picture: Supplied
Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Neo Ntlaseng
Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Neo Ntlaseng
Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Supplied
Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival. Picture: Supplied

In honour of Women’s Month, The South African State Theatre has officially launched the 6th Annual Vavasati Women’s International Festival, at the theatre.

The festival kicked off with two productions, Island of Goree, directed and produced by Godfrey Thobejane, and You Are an Eagle which is directed and produced by Khanyisile Vilakazi. US-based artist Maryam Foye also hosted an engaging Playback Theatre Workshop with Tshwane University of Technology arts students.

The 2018 edition of the festival is celebrated under the banner “Together we are stronger,” inspired by Albertina Sisulu, a “woman of fortitude”.

To hear a bit more about the festival, we had a Q and A with the festival’s curator, Keamogetswe Moeketsane.

What went into the process of curating the programme for this year’s Vavasati? I saw a variety of subjects and mediums mixed in it. What considerations did you make in selecting what shows at the festival?

Early in the year, a call for proposals is sent out to the public to invite producers, directors, performers to send through their proposals to be a part of the festival.

Those proposals are then sent to external readers, they read and send through comments on those proposals, whether they are suited for the festival or not. A variety of genres, including music, drama, poetry, art comedy, lifestyle, workshops and discussions are featured in the festival. The simple consideration is that there needs to be more female hands involved behind the scenes and on stage of a production than men. Content is also important. They must speak to women and address, highlight, celebrate and/or reflect on women issues.

Why is it important to have festivals like Vavasati? How does this contribute to the advancement of women artists?

The festival through its festivities delves into how women deal with their lived experiences in society, also shedding light on the diverse roles women assume. The theatre created a women’s festival of this stature to give accessibility to space and theatre resources, also a voice to women artists whose names do not yet appear in any theatre history books. 

There are so many talented woman creatives, but they just don’t have access. Festivals like Vavasati are important to the advancement of women artists because its a festival curated by women, for women, and allows them to tell their stories uncensored.

What themes will be visited throughout the festival by the productions?

The festival this year is a celebration of Mama Albertina Sisulu’s centenary. Under the theme “Together We Are Stronger”, we chose stories that celebrate women. Through adversity, we still triumph in the end. But this year’s themes are about sexuality. A lot of plays unravel ideas and binaries laid out by gender, reality and the mind.

What was the trickiest part of curating the festival?

The trickiest part of the festival has to be the logistical elements. There are so many moving parts in order to make the festival come together; technical, theatrical, PR and so many other things that staying on top of everything can be challenging.

What are your favourite two productions and why?

I don’t have any favourite production because I think all productions, deserve to be seen. But I will say I am quite looking forward to a talk facilitated by Refiloe Lepere who is part of The Writers Lab. Titled “Extending the Frame”, it deals with the process of creation language and writing, gender parity polarisation publishing and staging.

Why should women come out in their numbers to support the festival?

Actually, more men should come out in numbers to support women because this month is a celebration of women and what better way to show their appreciation than coming and supporting the festivals in numbers.

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