South African Women’s Art Festival


The Playhouse Company’s 16th South African Women’s Arts Festival (SAWAF), runs at The Playhouse in Durban from Friday, 3 August until Sunday, 11 August 2012.

SAWAF, held during Women’s Month every year, has a long history of supporting women’s arts and creating valuable dialogue, whilst showcasing cutting edge productions. South Africa has a wealth of performing talent and this year’s line-up brings together some of the country’s top female performers in the spheres of dance, song, drama, comedy, poetry and debate. Each production has been carefully selected to entertain, move and enlighten audiences, as well as to create lasting memories.

In staging the South African Women’s Arts Festival during Women’s Month, we once again embrace a vital part of our mandate to foster women’s skills development, particularly in the arts. Through the festival’s performances, we’ll focus on the various roles that women play in society, create dialogue about their challenges and celebrate their triumphs.

Sailing Somewhere

Date: 3-5 August
Venue: Loft Theatre

With songs written by Conor Mitchell, Sailing Somewhere is a funny, sometimes haunting and totally gripping portrait of a woman’s voyage across the stormy waters of her life. Counting down the days until she docks, a lounge singer on a cruise ship faces a painful dilemma: whether or not to be reunited with her estranged daughter. As she gets closer to land, she gets closer to facing herself too.

“To run away from whatever it is that scares us is the reaction of the weak, flawed creatures that we are. It’s also our instinct for self-preservation,” says writer Matthew Hurt, a South African now living in London. “In some sense, we are all at sea, refusing or unable to deal with what we find most painful.”

Sailing Somewhere is directed by Vanessa Cooke with set design by Andrew Botha, and stars Fiona Ramsay, with Tony Bentel accompanying her on the piano. Ramsay gives an astonishing, not-to-be-missed performance full of poignant humour, courage and drama.

Open Mic Poetry

Date: 4 August
Venue: Drama Theatre

Legendary South African storyteller and author, Dr Gcina Mhlophe, hosts the two-hour Open Mic Poetry session, which features wellknown poets Bongani Mavuso, Naima McLean, Ntsiki Mazwai, Buzetsheni Mkhohliseni Mdletshe and Sbo da Poet. Language will be woven and shaped into a rich tapestry celebrating women from all walks of life and the role they play in society. Gospel group, BOT, will open the session with a brief performance.


Inter-Generational Dialogue

Date: 4 August
Venue: Drama Theatre

Nancy Richards will lead a distinguished panel of speakers on the subject of ‘Nation building’. Panellists include: First Lady, Thobeka Zuma; MEC of Arts, Culture, Sport & Recreation for KwaZulu-Natal, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha; eThekwini Deputy Mayor, Councillor Nomvuzo Tshabalala; Duma Ndlovu and Thato Tsautse. This session allows attendees from all walks of life to make their own contributions to the discussion, resulting in an environment where dialogue is created, ideas are exchanged and expertise is shared by some of our country’s leading decision-makers. The session will close with a perfomance by Ntokozo Mbambo.


Women’s Celebratory Concert

Date: 4 August
Venue: Opera Theatre

Music fans are in for a treat with SAWAF’s Women’s Celebratory Concert. This festival highlight features South Africa’s top female performers, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zahara, Xolisa Dlamini, DJ Zinhle and Celeste Ntuli, MCing the event will be Minnie Dlamini and Alex Mthiyane. Directed by Somizi Mhlongo, the concert will also feature the talents of the Playhouse Company’s Resident Dancers.


Worlds Apart

Date: 10-11 August
Venue: Drama Theatre

The Playhouse Company established its Dance Residency programme in response to the scarcity of funding, training and facilities for theatre practitioners.

Worlds Apart, choreographed by Adele Blank and featuring the talents of the Playhouse Dance Residency dancers, is a rich piece reminiscent of life’s always circular journey. Traditional women today are seeking to enter the urbanised world, and many find that this clashes with who they are – making them feel ‘worlds apart’. With voice over by Dr Gcina Mhlophe, Worlds Apart is about carrying on with our lives, but never forgetting where we came from.

“The Playhouse Residency dancers are very powerful performers, and everyone comes from different backgrounds,” says Adele Blank. “The development of Worlds Apart was a collaborative process and something of a journey, with the dancers very involved in the workings of the piece.”

Featuring: Rachel Abrahams, Zinhle Gumede, Nkanyiso Kunene, Kurt Marais, Karabo Maithufi,Sandile Mbili, Nkululeko Ntombela, Leagan Peffer and Tobeka (TK) Quvane. Worlds Apart plays alongside Beyond Breaking Pointe as a double bill.


Beyond Breaking Pointe

Date: 10-11 August
Venue: Drama Theatre

From the streets to the ‘Pointe’, a line is created where all dance genres meet and integrate. Beyond Breaking Pointe mashes dance genres together to create a ‘Neo’ dance form, showcasing the individuality of different kinds of dance and how, when fused, a new dynamic is created.

Director and Head Choreographer, Taryn Makaab and her Break-thru Dance Company will take audience members on an intense dance journey with elements as diverse as breakdancing, jazz, tap, krump and classical ballet. Beyond Breaking Pointe plays alongside Worlds Apart as a double bill.


Children’s Theatre Fun Day

Date: 11 August
Venue: Grand Foyer

A fabulous fun filled day for kids, including pottery, drumming, creative movement workshops, clowns, face painters as well as an exciting adventurous children’s production called Dr Pocket’s Ocean Commotion, the day will be finished off with Dr Gcina Mhlophe leading a Playhouse parade.

Call The Playhouse Box Office on +27 (0)31 369-9540 or book through Computicket.

Exhibition: Conversations We Do Not Have

Date: 3-31 August
Venue: Alambra Room

The Amazwi Abesifazane – Voices of Women Museum holds in trust the memories of ordinary women in close to 3000 embroidered cloths and recorded personal stories, and a selection of these memory cloths will be exhibited in ‘Conversations We Do Not Have’. Other artworks drawn from the MTN Art Collection, Phansi Museum and Mary Stainbank Collection will also be on display. ‘A day I will never forget’ is the theme that was given to groups of women who, over the past 10 years, have produced personal narrative and creative artworks depicting these stories; these are the memory cloths that will be exhibited. The memory cloths and narratives, which were initiated by Andries Botha, open up discourse about South African women’s feminine aspect and our understanding of what that might be. The exhibition has a comprehensive accompanying educational programme talking about the history and methodology of the artworks, and is open to learner groups as well as the general public.

Health Clinic and Agricultural Exhibition

Date: 4 August
Venue: Grand Foyer

The Playhouse Company has partnered with the KZN Departments of Health and Agriculture & Environmental Affairs to host a free clinic and an agriculture exhibition on Saturday, 4 August as part or the Provincial Premier’s programme “Sukuma Sakhe”. Services on offer include: cervical cancer screening; breast examinations; blood pressure testing; blood sugar screening; eye testing; HIV/AIDS testing; TB screening; children immunisations; advice on minor ailments; and health education. The clinic will operate from The Playhouse Grand Foyer and will be open to all patrons and the general public for free. The clinic opens at 9am and will run until 3pm. The Women in Agriculture exhibition will provide visitors with information on how to start one’s own garden and grow organic vegetables, as well as giving indigent women who work in agriculture a platform to sell their produce and products, including organic vegetables, fruit juice, jams and pickles. Through knowledge sharing, this exhibition seeks to promote food security and a healthy lifestyle.