MORE than 1300 learners and educators from all over Gauteng will enjoy four intense days of arts, drama and dance at the Sasol Gauteng Schools Festival at the Spoornet State Theatre in Pretoria.
Grade 11 children will be exposed to the arts, drama and dance in two separate festivals taking place over two days starting on Tuesday, 13 September.
Sasol is not only a proud sponsor of arts and culture in South Africa but plays an active role in the development of the country's science and technology base. Each year, in conjunction with the Grahamstown Foundation, it also sponsors the Sasol Science Festival, now in its tenth year.
Louisa Clayton, director of arts education at the Grahamstown Foundation, the organisation that brings these festivals to life, is constantly encouraged by the enthusiasm shown for these festivals in Gauteng.
"We started with one festival and simply couldn't accommodate the numbers clamouring to attend. We have therefore grown the single festival into four days of non-stop arts education for grade 11 learners."
This year Sasol will host four festivals, two of which are held in Gauteng, and one in both Mpumalanga and the Free State.
"In an intense three month period the Sasol Schools Festival Series will engage with 3000 learners, educators and artists from four provinces in a journey that will inspire and challenge creative talent" Clayton said.
Pat Davies, Sasol's Chief Executive, said the development of the youth is important to Sasol.
"The Festival has been developed to give the platform for youth to express themselves, to be creative and explore different cultures and appreciate the different ways in which we view and live life.
"As South Africans we have a rich and vibrant cultural heritage and we hope all those who attend will thoroughly enjoy this opportunity to discover and share new and old wisdoms together," Davies said.
Participants will be treated to shows such as "Hoot" presented by the acclaimed Matthew Ribnick, one-man master of comedy, quick-changes and accents. Ribnick constantly wows audiences with his ability to portray a range of South African characters in a true, honest, yet subtly reflective way. He points a gently humorous finger at our country's quirks and subtly exposes our underlying prejudices and hidden humanities.
The Moving into Dance company presents a choreographic marvel and a collection of inspiring works to uplift and entertain. Their inspiring performance, entitled "Dance Unlimited", is choreographed by Gregory Vuyani Maqoma and Sbonakaliso Ndaba.
The South African mother of storytelling, Gcina Mhlophe's, play Have you Seen Zandile? is also part of the programme. This winner of an Edinburgh Festival's Fringe First Award tells the poignant tale of a young girl's idyllic childhood until her kidnapping to the Transkei homeland.
The ever-entertaining Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company presents "Say Otherwise…" a poetry programme that really gets to grips with issues daily facing their target audience, grade 11 learners. The production played to rave reviews at the Standard Bank National Schools Festival. One critic wrote: "Ha, ha, ha!! WOW! I'm speechless and all I could do was laugh a lot. They are fantastically talented and very lively. They filled the room with light".
Comedian Marc Lottering, known for his wild-hairstyle, will deliver a wacky and inspiring keynote address to the official opening of the first festival, on Tuesday, 13 September. Generations actor and award-winning movie director Akin Omotoso, delivers another hard-hitting keynote for the second official opening on Thursday, 15 September.
Also rocking the Sasol Gauteng Schools Festival for the duration of the event are workshops covering acting, character-development, stage combat, debating and all kinds of dance. This is an opportunity for learners to interact with stage-personalities in a one-to-one environment.
"We are privileged to be able to bring the famous performers on stage back again to give lectures and workshops to the very people who were watching their show the night before. For the delegates it's an amazing experience to really get to grips with drama and what goes on behind the scenes," said Gina Balarin, arts education officer with the festival organisation team.
Ribnick and playwrite Ashraf Johaardien will share their experiences with delegates at informative lectures, while the Moving Into Dance company presents a lecture-demonstration of their work Virtually Blond.
Grahamstown Foundation Director of Arts Education
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