In partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, the 2017/2018 theatre incubator programme is designed to help talented young people who are already in the industry by equipping them with the necessary skills to get their careers off the ground.
This year, the programme featured a number of recognised industry figures as mentors for the participants - people such as Napo Masheane for poetry, Tuks Senganga for hip hop, Norman Chalke for music and Aubrey Sekabe for drama to name a few.
The young people are also put through business and art workshops, which aim to equip them with the necessary skills to become arts entrepreneurs.
According to Thabiso Qwabe, the State Theatre's Education Youth Children Theatre department manager, the programme also allows the participants to have access to professionally shot and edited recordings and photography that they can use to market themselves after the programme.
The incubator programme also allows these young performers access to the theatre again after the programme has wrapped up by way of performance in the theatre's various festivals.
Kicking off the programme's showcase on Friday is Emmah Mabye with a poetry performance called Clocking In. The production explores human connections to the mind, soul and body through music, video and poetry.
Clocking In forms part of Mabye's recently published poetry anthology.
Mabye said she hadn't expected the hard work that came with refining her art form, but she had gained a lot more respect for her work.
“I have a lot more respect for my art. Especially because poetry is often treated as something you just do as a pastime or a hobby. I have a lot more respect for it because it's time-consuming to put together work, and to realises that our art will affect and touch people's lives," Mabye said.
She had come to realise that people were expecting a high standard of work, she added. “And where much is, much has been put in,” she quipped.
As for her performance, Mabye said, people could expect a poetic spectacle.
“All too often, people who've seen me on stage have seen me as poised. In this one I'm taking you on a journey through life, with all its ups and downs,” she said.
Mabye said that audiences should specifically come see the incubator programme shows because the State Theatre was making unknown voices heard.
“People often flock to (see) people they know of. Here, the theatre is making unknown voices heard, and the fact that we were hand-picked by the State Theatre should tell you that we're capable of producing high quality work,” Mabye said.
For Qwabe, the appeal of these shows is that this is the future of the arts.
“If you want to see the future of the arts, this is it. If you want to see truly South African work, this is it. It's work that's been created by these young people that explores themes that are important to them It's where we're going with the arts, Qwabe said.
Clocking In, the first production on the incubator programme, opens on Friday. Shows run at the State Theatre until March.