Theatre lovers are in for a treat this Africa Month as the South African State Theatre offers a streaming option during the national lockdown.
"This is one of various plans and social-economic relief measures being rolled out by the theatre during these trying times," read the press statement.
The streaming offering will comprise past productions that were recorded live at the State Theatre and, once the lockdown restrictions allow, will also look to add new productions to the schedule.
SA State Theatre Artistic Director, Aubrey Sekhabi, is excited about this pioneering venture.
He said: “Since 2014, we have been experimenting with bringing theatre online and on television. This led to my presentation at the African Union in Addis Ababa where I intended to invite artists in the continent to be part of this initiative. With the lockdown, we are presented with an opportunity to experiment on this format.
"We are ready to launch, whilst providing relief for our artists to earn income. We also intend to solidify the online platform as an alternative or secondary platform for our artistic offering."
For the Africa Month celebrations on May 24, the theatre will be streaming a never-seen-before performance by the multi Grammy-Awards winning acapella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo alongside the Guinness Record holder, Percy Maimela, Mamelodi-born jazz composer Ncamisa Nqana.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Picture: Mpilo Zone6
Maimela, who holds the Guinness World Record for producing the largest artwork using coffee granules, is a 35-year-old self-taught visual artist and one of the stars to come out of the SAST’s Incubator Programme.
Another exciting production featuring during Africa Month is the dance piece titled “Amawethu,” which was conceived, choreographed, and directed by award-winning dancer and choreographer, Luyanda Sidiya (2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance).
The production is a presentation offered in collaboration with Luthando Arts Academy, was recorded live at SAST in July 2019 after the show feature in the Main Programme of the 2019th National Arts Festival in Makhanda.
"Amawethu". Picture: Mpilo Zone6
“Amawethu” tells a human story that seeks to reclaim who we are as a people from our cultures and customs and corrects the distortions that pre-date the African slave trade that led many to believe that African spirituality had a demonic, pagan, uncivilized, barbaric and godless origin.
Commenting on the show, Sidiya revealed: “Amawethu aims to create a system for the black child to appreciate and learn more about who he or she is. We seek to enact the wealth of character long lost in our customs and our way of life. I have a great fascination with the beauty of who and what we are. I am also inspired by people who came before me."
Amawethu. Picture: Mpio Zone6
Sekhabi added: "As we establish and grow our digital platform, we will reach audiences across Africa and the rest of the world. This presents our artists with significantly greater earning opportunities when our productions are watched by paying audiences.
“As we navigate the possibilities and opportunities of live recording without audiences, we cannot wait to share with you our envisioned live concerts anchored by seasoned South African artists as well as offerings from Mmapula Setlhako and Hanna Van Tonder.
" As we launch our digital platform to continue bringing you the very best in South African performing arts, we are eager and look forward to seeing you in our theatres again very soon,” says Sekhabi.
A full schedule with broadcast dates and times will be released in the coming days on State Theatre social media networks.
All content will be loaded on the South African State Theatre’s YouTube channel.