2012: A year on stage

Zakes Mda.

Zakes Mda.

Nik Rabinowitz: Comedian

Who is your favourite emerging stage performer?
Comedian Tats Nkonzo, because he does comedy in a lovely singing voice. So funny and yet so pleasant.

What were your favourite shows from this year?
I’m so busy performing that I rarely get to see other shows. But I did get to watch a brilliant one — Barney the dinosaur doing a live gig at the amphitheatre in the Waterfront.

What should everyone see at least once?
A proctologist. And Rastamouse — a children’s TV show with a Rastafarian mouse who fights crime as the main character. I’ll wait for my infant son to become an under­achieving teenager and figure out on his own how they came up with that idea.

Sylvaine Strike: Theatre director and actor

Who is your favourite emerging performer?
One is Patricia Boyer, a 40-year-old actor who is not so much emerging as discovered. Another is Atandwa Kani, John Kani’s son, and William Harding. All appeared in The Miser, which recently ran at the Market Theatre, and have a deep understanding of the physical as well as intellectual theatre.

What were your favourite shows this year?
The play Red, which is on at the ­Theatre on the Square and stars Michael Richard. The second is my own show The Miser, which has been called the play of the year.

What should everyone see at least once?
Everyone should see a great classic. The Miser is an example — it is both funny and educational.

Zakes Mda: Playwright and author

Who is your favourite South African emerging performer?
The powerful dancer Mamela Nyamza, who performed her show I Stand Corrected this year in London, and Kelebogile Boikanyo, the inspiring opera singer who made her international debut as Queen Silomo in the Zulu opera Princess Magogo.

What were your favourite performances or shows this year?
Yael Farber’s Mies Julie at the Baxter Theatre, because it would make Swedish playwright Johan August Strindberg cringe. I have always liked Farber’s directorial choices and production values, which are brave, raw and gory. But the theme of the play did not resonate with me, especially in its portrayal of the political situation in the “new” South Africa. Strindberg’s play is on class; Farber’s is solely on race. The class issue is more crucial in today’s South Africa. The oppressor today is black. If and when the white man still has the clout to oppress, it is first and foremost the black man’s fault (the black ruling elite that has neo-colonial agency) and, secondly, global ­capitalism.

What should everyone see at least once?
I wish there could be a revival of Mncedisi Shabangu’s play The Barbershop. It was one of the very best plays I have seen.

PJ Sabbagha: Director of the Forgotten Angle ­Theatre Collaborative

Who is your favourite emerging performer?
Our team of amazing dancers truly inspires and blows me away every day: Fana Tshabalala, Ivan Teme, Thabo Kobeli, Thami Majela, Thulani Chauke and Charlston van Rooyen. These guys are truly generous with their gifts and talents.

What were your favourite shows this year?
As a company, our favourite event was without a doubt travelling to the Kuandu Arts Festival in Taipei to perform I Think It’s Hamlet.

What should everyone see at least once?
Without a doubt the amazing French film Le Reine Margot. This film has stuck with me for years and its images and drama have left their residue.

Kitty Phetla: Ballet dancer and ­choreographer

Who is your favourite emerging performer?
Thoriso Magongwa, a principal member of the Ballet Theatre Afrikan, is a wonderful dancer. He has a great understanding of the theatre and stagecraft and I love his innate ability to take something technical and simple and turn it into theatrical language of art.

What were your favourite performances this year?
I enjoyed performing various soloist roles in the South African Mzansi Ballet production of Le Corsaire. It premiered at the Jo’burg Theatre for the first time on the South African stage in July and featured a cast of more than 100 dancers.

What are some of the best trends you see emerging?
I’ve noticed that both classical ballet and contemporary dance have their space, but the neoclassical style is becoming more popular. Professional dancers now have to adapt to the choreography and style of the great classics such as The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, as well as contemporary work both en pointe and barefoot, or in pumps. There is also a lot more collaboration between choreographers and their dancers. It’s not a matter of arriving at work and being told what to do — our contribution towards new work is becoming more important.

For me, the work by British choreographer David Dawson has brought different and exciting meaning to choreography. He has great respect for the ballet technique, but is constantly pushing its boundaries. His focus on the potential of the human physique is breathtaking!

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