Founder of The Centre for the Less Good Idea
Co-curator | Season 1
Draftsman, performer and filmmaker, best known for his animated drawings, William Kentridge (b. April 28 1955, Johannesburg) who is to date arguably South Africa’s most well-established fine artists, has enjoyed a central focus in his work of how apartheid values touched and bruised the lives of ordinary South Africans. Habitually conflating his autobiography with that of his own fictionalised characters, he chooses to work in charcoal and ink. In his animations, a single drawing is retouched again and again to create film stills, each new image is a palimpsest bearing signs of the previous drawing’s erasure. “My work is about the provisionality of the moment,” he says,, Kentridge gained international acclaim for his short film series 9 Drawings for Projection (1989–2003). His works are owned by institutions all over the world and he’s hosted numerous solo exhibitions at museums such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art; Vienna’s Albertina Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Co-curator of Season 1
Known for her lyrical and gutsy poetry, Lebogang Mashile is an award-winning writer, presenter, actress and activist. Born in 1979 in America to parents who were in exile from apartheid, she returned to South Africa in the 1990s and rose to artistic prominence by 2004. Popular for her poetry in over 24 countries, Mashile has become a South African household name, and remains a much sought after social commentator, speaker and performer whose infectious enthusiasm is infused into every platform she has touched over the last 16 years. Her passion for the arts and social justice is evident in her prolific body of work. She possesses an incomparable ability to make poetry accessible to just about any audience. She travels widely and regularly to share her unique brand of artistry. and has, over the past 12 years, graced South African television screens as a presenter of shows such as L’Atitude (SABC1), Drawing the Line (SABC2) and Great Expectations (eTV). She is also a stage and screen actress who appeared in the Academy Award nominated film Hotel Rwanda in 2004. To date, Mashile has penned two anthologies of poems, including In A Ribbon of Rhythm (2005) which won the 2006 NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa. In 2008, Mashile published her second collection Flying Above the Sky.
Co-curator of Season 1
Theatre-maker, Creative Intellectual, Actor, Playwright and director with a sustaining love for the work of Can Themba and an abiding admiration for the work of Scandinavian playwright Henrik Ibsen, Khayelihle Dominique Gumede completed a BA in Dramatic Arts at Wits University 2011. He majored in the fields of Directing, Performance and Writing and to date, he has directed over a dozen professional stage productions. His credits include, Milk and Honey which he wrote and co-directed with James Ngcobo, Crepuscule (2015/16), When We are Naked (2011) which led to his contribution to the academic volume ‘Social Work Artfully, Beyond Borders and Boundaries’ (Published by Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press 2015), ‘Amnesia 1 and 2’ in collaboration with Kemang Wa Lehulere (Standard Bank young Artist) as part of his solo exhibition, ‘Sleep is for the Gifted’ at Lombard Freid Gallery, New York 2013, Broken CHANT (featuring standard bank young Artist Award winner Sonia Radebe) and Synapses 2015, Gqisha co-directed and created by Raezeen Wentworth and performed and Co-created with Nhlanhla Mahlangu 2016. Not yet 30 years old, Gumede has, won a number of theatre and television awards. Over the years he has already demonstrated his mettle as a Festival Director and Chief Creative Officer of a regional creative content hub called Yililiza. To date, Gumede is a published playwright and academic and former Royal Court of London Writing Resident. He has a passion for teaching and community work and has guest lectured in a number of prominent Colleges, Theatres and Community Theatre programs in South Africa.
Co-curator of Season 1
Arguably one of South Africa’s unequivocal contemporary dance stars, Gregory Vuyani Maqoma was born in Soweto in 1973. As a child, he became seduced by the idea of dance as a means to escape the political tensions in his place of birth. In 1990, he began training under Sylvia Glasser at Moving Into Dance Mophatong, South Africa’s most prominent dance company. MID saw Maqoma grow and blossom from a 16-year-old who aspired to study medicine and into a dancer and choreographer of immense talent. He stayed with the company for year. In 2002 when he became its Associate Artistic Director, but it was several years earlier, in 1999, while he was studying at the Performing Arts Research and Training School in Belgium, on a scholarship under Anne Terese De Keersmaker, that Maqoma established his own company, Vuyani Dance Theatre, which today is the cornerstone company of local contemporary dance that heralds excellent collaborations as it develops new work. Having garnered several prestigious collaborations and awards over the years, Maqoma is today eminently respected as a dancer, visiting academic at several universities, choreographer and teacher.
Animateur for the Centre for the Less Good Idea
Lace is the 'animateur' for The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Her role is to bring the centre to life, to breath energy in to it and to pull on the threads of networks that reach far and wide in Johannesburg, South Africa and the world.
Site specificity is one of the things that stirs the imagination of Botswana-born Bronwyn Lace into fiery life. Born in 1980, she was educated at Wits University and focuses her artistic practice on the relationship between art and other fields, including performing arts, physics, museum practice and education.
Blending her interests in science and art with that of video editing in film and television, Sarajevo-born Žana Marović settled in Johannesburg in 1995. She gained experience by working on various television productions from documentaries to feature films, including award-winning wildlife feature films supported by the National Geographic. She became assistant editor to Catherine Meyburgh in 2011 and worked on several of William Kentridge’s projects and installations, including Refuse the Hour, The Refusal of Time, The Norton Lectures, Lulu,and Wozzeck, among others.
Assistant Project Manager
Noah Cohen is a filmmaker, theatremaker, and actor. He is interested in the chaotic and playful creation of work through collaboration and failure, all of which is in full-force at The Centre. He is grateful to be witness to the diverse and supremely relevant talent of South Africa and to be welcomed with a kindness that is unique and warm.
Taryn is project manager for the William Kentridge Studio and co - producer of the City of Gold Urban Art Festival.
Lighting and Stage Designer for Season 1
Sound Designer for Season 1
Performer in extracts from Wole Soyinka's The Trials of Brother Jero Actor in Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe
Award-winning film and stage actor, playwright, director and producer, Hamilton Dlamini was born in 1969 in Sebokeng, near Vanderbijlpark. He started his acting career in 1984 and currently runs his own production company, Ndlondlo Productions. Highlights of his career include his performance in Mncedisi Shabangu’s Ten Bush, in 2008/9 which won him a Naledi award for the best supporting actor; his collaboration with William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company in Woyzeck in the Highveld, from 2009, which toured the world; in 2012 he performed opposite Mncedisi Shabangu in a production of Woza Albert at the Market Theatre, was directed by Prince Lamla, which enjoyed a six month run, and in 2013, he performed in Athol Fugard’s Nongogo, directed by James Ngcobo. A well-known face in a variety of television comedy and drama series over the years, including Ntokozo in SABC’s Zikhethele, Ndwandwe in Emzini Wezinsizwa and Mojo in Stokvel, Dlamini is the face and voice of the South African tavern industry, thanks to his industrial and corporate theatre profile. In addition, he has appeared in local film, including Regardt van den Bergh’s Faith Like Potatoes of 2006, for which he won a South African Film and Television Award (Safta) for best supporting actor. Dlamini was trained by Vusi Dibakwane of Penguin Films as a multi-camera director, and he has, in this capacity, directed several pieces for eTV, including Sangoma, Mageza and Isipoki.
Performance of Samuel Beckett’s Not I and film installation based on the play
Patricia Boyer is a multi-award winning actor with over 20 years of experience in
the industry both internationally and locally. She has appeared on-stage in London’s West-end with luminaries such as the great British actors Sheila Gish and Dame Janet Suzman, Hollywood stars Rachel Weisz and Gerard Butler and local stars James Ngcobo, Fana Mokoena and Moshidi Motshegwa. Her many theatre credits in London include Suddenly Last Summer on the West-End directed by Sean Mathias, The Cherry Orchard directed by Dame Janet Suzman, Don Juan comes back from the war directed by Jo Blatchely, and The Yellow Wallpaper directed by Judith Roberts. She is also an experienced film and television actor and has appeared in the hit United Kingdom television series Wire in the Blood opposite Hermione Norris and Robson Green. Locally she has appeared in the Emmy nominated Sokhulu and Partners and amongst others,The Lab,Home Affairs, Shado’s, Intersexions, Jacob’s Cross and the multi-award winning film Necktie Youth. Back in South Africa, Boyer has played several important roles onstage, which have earned her considerable accolades, including that of Frosine and Master Jaques in Moliere’s The Miser which was directed by Sylvaine Strike. Her performance as Mary in the Colm Toibin work The Testament of Mary earned her a Naledi nomination in 2014, among others. Most recently she has just completed filming on Sober Companion and will soon be seen in the lead role of Carmen in Soap on a Rope for SABC 3 and can currently be seen playing Sue in Mzansi Magic’s series Lockdown.
Performer in extracts from Wole Soyinka's The Trials of Brother Jero
Actor in Samuel Beckett's Play
Wits Drama graduate, Tony Miyambo was born in 1987 and raised on Johannesburg’s East Rand. Supremely skilled as a performer, which he proved in his work on Phala Ookeditse Phala’s monodrama Kafka’s Ape which debuted at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2015 and is an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Red Peter, and The Cenotaph of Dan WaMoriri, an autobiographical one hander which Miyambo wrote, under the direction of Gerard Bester and which debuted at Wits University’s So Solo festival in 2015, he rose to popular attention in his film role in Wonder Boy for President (2016). Having proven himself over the last couple of years in a diversity of theatre roles and collaborations, Miyambo is arguably one of the finest performers of his generation. He has worked with a range of theatre directors and playwrights, including Jefferson Tshabalala, Mike van Graan, James Ngcobo and Dominique Gumede
Johannesburg-based actress Zethu Dlomo was born in 1989. Having matriculated at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, she went on to graduate in drama at Wits University. But she rose to broad South African awareness with her starring role as ‘Alice Kunene’ in Room 9, the SABC1 science fiction television series in 2012-2013. Involved in both industrial theatre and conventional theatre, Dlomo has several productions under her belt, including The Hill and You Fool, How Can the Sky Fall? (both directed by James Ngcobo), Yerm directed by Leila Henriques; and Anowa, directed by Sarah Matchett.
Actor in Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe directed by Wiliiam Kentridge
Vanessa Cooke is an award winning performer and workshop theatre practitioner.
In 1971 she met the director Barney Simon at Dorkay House in Johannesburg. Together with him, Mannie Manim and a group of actors formed the Company and founded the Market Theatre in 1976.
Vanessa has performed in over 50 plays and has won awards including Naledi Award Best Supporting Actress for Vigil 2014 and also for How I Learnt to Drive1999, Laughing Wild 1989, Private Lives 1988 and Gertrude Stein and a Companion 1986.
Vanessa is an exponent of Workshop Theatre and has been involved in the creation of South African plays such asCincinatti – Scenes from City Life 1979, Born in the RSA 1985 and This is for Keeps 1986 which won a Vita Award for Best Production.
In the early nineties Vanessa started working at the Market Theatre Laboratory, the training and development wing of the Market Theatre. She retired from the Lab in 2008. In 1999 Vanessa won a Gauteng Arts & Culture & Heritage Award for Development Drama.
Vanessa has performed in a number of films – most recently Ayanda and the Mechanic 2015 and has acted in TV series – most recently as Mama Ruth in Scandal.
Director of Play by Samuel Beckett
Established director, actor, physical theatre practitioner and activist, Khutjo Green graduated with an honours degree in Drama at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007. With experience in everything from industrial theatre, to performing as Brer Rabbit to directing Revolution Between My Thighs for the Sex, Actually festival hosted by Drama For Life, Green, who hails from Polokwane and was schooled in Pretoria, rose to critical prominence with her performance in The Line, a play by Gina Shmukler dealing with xenophobia in South Africa, her direction of Gcina Mhlope’s Have You Seen Zandile? and her performance in Neil Coppen’s Animal Farm.
Seasoned South African actor, Dan Robbertse has taught at the Market Theatre Laboratory for over 20 years facilitating the career path of literally hundreds of young South African theatre hopefuls. Born in 1954, He’s a well known face on South African television, and includes Behind the Badge, Yizo Yizo and 7de Laan among his most recognised credits. He also performed in the 1995 film version of Cry, the Beloved Country, Country of my Skull (2004) and Goodbye Bafana (2007), among others.
Actor in Samuel Beckett's Play and Jero
Boitumelo “Tumy” Motsoatsoe holds a Masters degree in Cultural Policy and (Arts) Management and an Honours degree in Dramatic Arts, both from the University of Witwatersrand. She is a Canon Collins Trust alumnus, a member of Arterial Network South Africa’s steering committee and is the Southern African coordinator of the Pan African Youth for the Culture of Peace. Tumy is a versatile and passionate creative who can be seen in different roles as an actor, researcher, presenter, facilitator and theatre maker. Her recent projects include Saints & Sinners season II (Mzansi Magic) and Mamello season I and II (SABC2). She is a member of the sketch comedy group ‘THENX’, which uses performance art as a tool for social transformation. Through the use of satire and parody, they (Tumy, MoMo, Kitty and Zethu) create work that holds up a critical mirror to society with the aim of promoting critical thinking and active citizenship. Thenx hosted the 2015 Savannah Comic’s Choice Awards and recently performed at the TedX Johannesburg Conference: The State of the Nation in Four Part Harmony https://youtu.be/i2bqE2Qms8g . Their latest play Aza-Nya is Five To won an Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival 2016.
Costume and set designer for Samuel Beckett's Play and Rough for Theatre I
Director of the Blind Mass Orchestra
Artist, composer, self-taught musician and maker of physical and virtual ‘things’ that challenge reality by deconstructing it, João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga shifts expectations of standard uses or purposes of objects and processes. Through experimentation and improvisation he explores sound’s connective capacities through its physical properties and material preconscious properties, seeking a balance between computer technology, hand-made electronics and real world sounds such as the human voice, field recordings and traditional musical instruments. Orecchia’s background is in improvised performance and composition for video art, film and theatre. His practice extends to public performance and intervention and his recently completed master’s degree in digital arts brought a shift towards a more spatial and physical approach to composition where sound, vibration, space, music and audience become connected in experience. Having been nominated for a South African Film & Television Award for sound design, Oreccia has published a sound work in the Leonardo Music journal.
Voice artist in the Blind Mass Orchestra
Performer in extracts from Wole Soyinka's The Trials of Brother Jero
Collaborator on Venus Hottentot vs Modernity
Born in Witbank, Mpumalanga, formidably voiced Ann Masina launched her career as an operatic soloist in 1994 in the Africa Sings Choral Choir. She joined the Nico Malan Opera House, now known as the Cape Town Opera House, in 1999 under Professor Angelo Gobbato and performed in operas such as Bizet’s Carmen and Verdi’s Aïda to great acclaim. A cofounder of the JOAT Opera Group, Masina is not only an opera singer, but has a skill that takes her into the fields of gospel, jazz and pop music extremely successfully, to say nothing of her ability to integrate with the more maverick values of performance art. Between 2005 and 2009, she collaborated with Berlin-based choreographer Robyn Orlin in works including Dressed to Kill, Venus and Walking Next to Our Shoes, which toured Europe extensively. A performer in the Soweto Gospel Choir, from 2007 until 2009, Masina returned to the stage to perform in the Steve Dyer musical Colour Me Human, which performed at the Soweto Theatre and the Joburg Theatre in 2014 and 2015. From 2012, she has been collaborating with William Kentridge in works such as Refuse the Hour, Paper Music and Lament, which too have toured the world, extensively.
Jazz drummer Tlale Makhene realised his gift for percussion when he was just four years old. Born in Soweto, he moved to Swaziland as a youngster. Known fondly as “The Groove Master” these days for his skill in polyrhythmic and melodic percussive sound, Makhene is immensely talented with his drums and has recorded several albums, including the highly acclaimed Ascension of the Enlightened which manifest his vast range of influences and the beauty of his approach and which won the coveted South African Music Award (SAMA) for best contemporary album in 2013.
Sessional trombonist and composer for film and television music, Dan Selsick was born in Johannesburg. He was schooled at the then School of Art, Ballet and Music and went on to study at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien, in Vienna. Born in 1965, today he runs his own recording studio.
Freelance session violinist, with a professional reputation of more than 25 years, Waldo Alexander is based in Johannesburg. With skills appropriate to a diversity of genres and disciplines, he enjoys a special interest in New Music, experimental collaborations and musical arrangement and studio recordings. Alexander has been collaborating with William Kentridge since 2012, and recently released an album with pianist Jill Richards of works by Kevin Volans.
When she was just four years old, keyboardist Thandi Ntuli knew that music was to be her life. She was born in Soshanguve, Pretoria in 1987 and is the niece of Selby Ntuli, the guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of 1970s pop fusion band Harari. Ntuli began her musical education under the tuition of Ada Levkowitz, who supplied her with the first music tools in classical piano. It was only later in life that she diversified to jazz, even though she was exposed to the genre’s melting pot. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree of music in Jazz performance through the University of Cape Town in 2010, she was also offered a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music. Ntuli’s debut album The Offering was critically acclaimed, being deemed the Best Urban Jazz by MetroFM in 2015. Collaboration is important to Ntuli and she also is fed by a wide range of artists, from Neo Muyanga and Steve Dyer to The Brother Moves on and Siya Makuzeni.
Having cut his teeth as a ‘cellist in his association with the South African National Youth Orchestra between 2011 and 2013, Tsepo Kolitsoe Pooe, comes from Soweto. He has enjoyed a diversity of collaborative experiences, including work under the direction of internationally feted conductor Sir Roger Norrington. The founder of contemporary strings group, The Pooe-Tic Strings in 2009, Pooe is currently junior conductor at the Orchestra company, and is studying the skill of conducting under Robert Maxym and Gerben Grooten.
Musician, electronic and digital artist
Referring to the Algorithm as his most significant approach to making music, Janus Fouché enjoys a fascination with robotics, installation, music, film and visual arts. Born in 1989 in Pretoria, he studied Information Science – with a specialisation in MultiMedia – at the University of Pretoria.
Tshepang Ramoba is a producer, composer, musician and cultural curator. Ramoba first gained acclaim as the drummer for the internationally recognized, award winning rock band the BLK JKS. The band shot to stardom after landing on the cover of Fader. Many covers later including Spin magazine and Rolling Stone, following a world tour schedule that included 300 consecutive days on the road through North America, Europe, Asia and South America with over 200 shows played including the World Cup opening concert.
Producing music for local and international TVCs and keeping a light international touring schedule for his two bands Motel Mari and BLK JKS, Ramoba also tours internationally as a DJ under the moniker “Rambo”. Playing parties from Johannessburg to London, Rio, New York, Nairobi to Bogota and right back to Harare has given Tshepang Ramoba a unique perspective of pop culture and the sub pop cultures it seeds internationally. Linking the Afrobeat scene in Rio with that in Paris. Tying the electro scene in New York to that in Pretoria. Ramoba has been ahead of the curve of the music scene’s evolution since he predicted that the longevity of South African rappers like HHP would lead to a hip hop culture take over in SA egged on by hungry young artists who would want to emulate what they saw on the international stage.
Self-taught guitarist for South African post-rock band, the BLK JKS, Mpumelelo Mcata is as passionate about film or art as he is about music. In 2015 at the Durban International Film Festival, he released Black President, a feature film about the Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai, who is controversial because of his confrontational anti-Mugabe work.
A company member of the contemporary dance company The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative since 2012, Thulani Chauke started his performing arts career at the Jabavu Anti Crime Youth Aids Awareness programme. Between 2001 and 2005 he performed for various projects including Arco Dance theatre, Halala Africa Theatre Society, Annavarata Dance Institute and Taelo Dance theatre. In 2006 he performed in the Gibson Kente production The Call, and John Ledwaba’s musical, Shosholoza in the subsequent years. In 2009 he joined Moving into Dance Mophatong as a company member, and moved to Vuyani Dance Theatre in the same capacity in 2011. Over the years, he has collaborated with the likes of choreographers such as Gregory Maqoma, PJ Sabbagha, Fana Tshabalala, Shanell Winlock, Ivan Estegneev and Eveny Kulagin (Russia), Iain Macdonald, Qudus Onikeku (Nigeria), Thabang Ramaila, Themba Mbuli, Thabo Rapoo, Luyanda Sidiya, Gustine Makgeledisa and Andrea Severa (Argentina).
It was in 1999 that Eastern Cape-based Xolisile Bongwana realised that he would be a dancer. In 2005 he joined Uphondo Lwe Afrika in Port Elizabeth before spending several years with the Dodgy Clutch Company, where he got to tour the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and to collaborate with renowned international choreographer, Robyn Orlin. With several prestigious performances under his belt, Bongwana has worked extensively with choreographers Gregory Maqoma and Luyanda Sidiya of Vuyani Dance Theatre and theatre director James Ngcobo. Having toured the world extensively and taken his work to numerous international theatre and dance festivals, Bongwana is today production assistant for Vuyani Dance Theatre.
Director of the choir
A graduate in the theory and practice of dance teaching from Moving Into Dance Mophatong, with over 17 years of experience in theatre, dance, dance theatre and dance in education, Nhlannhla Mahlangu is a multi-skilled performer, teacher, director and composer. Born in 1979, he has travelled all over the world with his exceptional repertoire, which has seen him collaborate with a great variety of arts professionals, from Classical music to contemporary dance, conventional theatre to performance art, Mahlangu hasworked with Richard Cock, Vincent Mantsoe, Victor Ntoni, Robyn Orlin and James Ngcobo, to name but a few. He has delved across the spectrum of dance with a rich and keen sense of contemporary relevance, which brings together a diversity of voices, often people from out of the dance ethos. In February of 2017, Mahlangu’s work Chant will be the opening work of the Dance Umbrella festival of contemporary dance in Johannesburg, and it will explore mining issues in a site-specific context. Mahlangu currently directs is own company, Song and Dance Works.
Choir composed and directed by Nlhanhla Mahlangu in collaboration with Gregory Maqoma
Rooted to Zulu history, culture, tradition and values and yet responding to the influences of modernity in a big robust city, Isicathamiya ensemble Phuphuma Love Minus originates from Kwa Ngabayela-Umsinga, a village in Kwazulu-Natal. Formed in 2002 by the late Khetheyakhe Ngidi, the ensemble’s aim is to teach important lessons of cultural identity and to restore the rich and diverse legacy of South African oral history. Under Ngidi, the ensemble grew in the belief that the art of music can be used as an instrument of change, sustainable development, socioeconomic empowerment and personal independence in the community of Umsinga and in South Africa at large. The group started by performing in traditional events such as weddings, harvest celebrations, and many community gatherings in Umsinga Village. In 2003 members of Phuphuma Love Minus moved to Johannesburg and became affiliated to the National Iphimbo Isicathamiya music organisation led by Simon Ngubane. Under this organisation Phuphuma Love Minus won 11 provincial and national competitions against other Isicathamiya music groups. Within the same period, the group made make successful recordings of two albums, Imfihlakalo Yezulu and Yithi Ojikelele. In 2010, Phuphuma Love Minus was nominated in the National South African Traditional Music Awards. In 2008, Phuphuma Love Minus collaborated with South African born contemporary choreographer Robyn Orlin, which brought an awareness of their work to Orlin’s audiences. The work of Phuphuma Love Minus has been seen all over the world, but strangely, less so in South Africa.
The head of the University of Johannesburg’s poetry society for the past two years, performance poet Mutinta Marie-Jose Bbenkele only became aware of the magic of the stage in 2010. These have been seven magical years, in which she has polished her craft and her love for literature, dance and how they interweave in the discipline of performance poetry.
Poetry, education and performance fuel the creative expression of Mutle Mothibe, who was born in 1984 and often is included in spoken word festival bills both in South Africa and Wales. The poetry he creates has been in development for more than 15 years, and today he has two one-man poetry performances under his belt: Mutle Mothibe’s PropBox (2011) and Disassembling Mutle Mothibe (2016), which have enjoyed critical success. In April 2013 Mothibe released his debut solo album In_sense, a 16-track record acknowledged in the online and print media. Mothibe elects to use his music in his interaction with students and teachers, as he believe it is a means to help educators find their own voices and tell their own stories. Currently a shareholder in the Word N Sound Live Literature Company, Mothibe melds his skills as an artist and arts administrator to help develop platforms for other artists to grow and showcase their own writing and performance abilities.
Sound Designer for Season 1
Choreographer and Director of Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company
Born in Soweto and educated in dance under the late Jackie Semela and through a scholarship at the Northern Contemporary Dance School in Leeds, Sello Pesa articulates his interest in the challenges of being in South Africa through his dance work. Interested in a broad range of perspectives toward challenging the accepted boundaries of dance and site specificity in performance works, Pesa has won much acknowledgement during his career, including first prize in the Sanga II African Contemporary Biennial in Madagascar in 2001, for his work Same But Different; and the Critical Endeavour Award at the iDans Festival in Istanbul in 2011 for his work Inhabitant which he co-created with Vaughn Sadie. Pesa has travelled the world extensively with his work, and most recently he was one of five featured artists involved in Play>Urban Exchange, a Strasbourg-based project in 2013. When he is not travelling the world, Pesa is artistic director of Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre in Johannesburg, which he established in 2006.
Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company
Founded by Sello Pesa in 2006, Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company generates and implements projects framed within sociopolitical concepts that are committed to exploring the diverse and evolving South African cultures and cultural practices through performance. It has performed, in collaboration with many other artists drawing from several artistic disciplines, all over the world, and has been involved in several choreographic workshop programmes and cross cultural, inter disciplinary interventions, locally and internationally. Ntsoana’s exploration of performance in alternative spaces gives its projects an edge which makes each site-specific performance unique. Its use of alternative spaces make dance and performance art accessible to a diverse audience. Hosting the In House Project in 2010, 2013 and 2016, Ntsoana has been instrumental in bringing dance works to Soweto, Alexandra, Cosmo City and Lenasia, traditionally areas which have not enjoyed great exposure to contemporary dance, in addition to Johannesburg’s northern suburbs. Other important collaborations include Ntsoana’s work with Carlos Pez from Spain on the Cross Currents SharpSharp activities in 2008, 2009 and 2010; work with South African performance artist Peter van Heerden and the erf  collective; and work with visual artist Vaughn Sadie. Furthermore, Ntsoana’s work has been showcased in Strasbourg, Reunion Island and Haiti, Istanbul, San Francisco and New Zealand.
Dancer and Performer for Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company
From a young age, Soweto-born Humphrey Maleka was dancing Pantsula and other township dance forms. As a ten-year-old in 1991, he was introduced to Afrofusion, a dance genre espoused by Sylvia Glasser of Moving Into Dance, as well as Contemporary dance. Subsequently, he was introduced to Alexandra le Maitre, with whom he learnt Flamenco dance and diversified his personal dance language. But it was not only dance techniques that have infused him with enthusiasm. Endowed with a fascination of how socio-political issues touch the man, and woman, in the street, regardless of race, gender or context, Maleka became a company member of what was then known as Ntsoana Training and Development Programme (it is today called Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company) in 2006, and has toured the country, and indeed, the world with the company’s work. In 2010, he choreographed and danced Naka tša go rwešwa, a piece for a solo dancer, which was performed at Goetheonmain in Johannesburg as part of the In House Project. He was a finalist for the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2012, and in 2013, he choreographed and performed Displacement, for that year’s Dance Umbrella.
Dancer and performer for Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Company
Born in 1987 in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg, Brian Mtembu began to develop his career as a dancer in 2003, when he was still a teenager. It was his involvement in a community theatre group called Beauty of Nature Theatre Productions that introduced him to music and performing on stage. Fascinated by the interface between performance art and real life, in 2005 he joined Kazi Ballet Academy and was taught ballet by Penelope Thloloe from Johannesburg-based company Ballet Theatre Afrikan, which was running at the time under the auspices of Martin Schönberg. In 2008, Mtembu auditioned for a role in Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre’s work Extract of X’s 2, which saw him travel with the work and the company to Mozambique and the Netherlands, and subsequently, Mtembu was accepted as a permanent company member of Ntsoana. In 2010, Mtembu danced with the Johannesburg Youth Ballet in several of their productions, including Polovtsian Dances, Circle and Peter and the Wolf. In addition, he choreographed the solo Dithokgako, which was performed on the Solo Works programme in Sebokeng. Mtembu was a finalist for the MTN New Contemporaries Award in 2012, alongside Vaughn Sadie and Humphrey Maleka,
Johannesburg’s suburb of Hillbrow is cosmopolitan and, historically, it is South Africa’s anteroom. From the 1940s, European immigrants, with scant resources, gravitated toward Hillbrow’s apartment buildings, where they could afford to settle. In the 2000s, the suburb became home to migrants from Africa. Because of Hillbrow’s melting pot of cultures, the texture of life is a rich, dangerous tapestry of poverty, crime and street life. George Khosi’s boxing gym, in the heart of Hillbrow is the valiant attempt of one man to bring discipline and aspiration to his neighbourhood’s youth.
He learnt to box while he was in prison. Incarcerated at 16, he needed to assert himself. But his passion for boxing didn’t end when his jail sentence did, and he realised a dream to be a professional boxer. This was not to be: Hillbrow life intervened and a shooting incident left him blind in one eye and inflicted with a limp. It didn’t kill his spirit, though; he averted his dream to focus on educating young people and women in the skill of boxing.
Khosi began operating Hillbrow Boxing Club without the promise of income, using battered equipment and a makeshift ring in the donated space of the forecourt of a disused petrol station. It became a sanctuary of hope and discipline for young residents of Hillbrow, effectively, keeping them off the streets and even producing national champions. Today, private and corporate clients asssist the club in surviving financially.
Cognisant of the relationship between boxing and public- and community-based art, Khosi has collaborated with artists since Anthea Moys’s Boxing Games in 2007. From 2010, he’s trained creative people in the Maboneng Precinct to box. Boxers involved in the Centre’s first season include Nathalie Banie, Andrew Gumbo, Sandile Khumalo, Selina Mabunda and Rita Mrwebi, a former South African boxing champion.
Artist, Writer and Boxer
Between 1989 and 1998, James Sey taught English, Cultural Studies, Social Science Research Methods and Studies in Popular Music at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and Vista University in Soweto, where he was awarded an associate professorship. He went on to pursue business research, marketing and online and print publishing, before becoming a research associate in at the University of Johannesburg. He is a writer, journalist, editor, academic and artist with many years’ experience in these fields. He started grown up life as a literature scholar and academic, and has an extensive track record of journal and book publications in academia. He continues to consult at various universities, including AFDA in Johannesburg and the Institute for Film and New Media at the University of Cape Town, where he teaches short courses in media studies, visual culture and creative writing. Sey is currently completing a doctorate in creative writing, has an abiding critical reputation in writing about film, multimedia art and psychology in the arts, is a former professional footballer and a cruiserweight boxer.
Writer informing Jero
A graduate of Wits University, with an abiding interest in a broad understanding of genre and how it can be manipulated, writer Gwydion Beynon began his career by majoring in Anthropology and English. Having honed his chops as a director of radio and television drama, where some of his work includes Rockville, Jacob’s Cross, Muvhango, Zone 14, Igazi and The Queen, he is also acknowledged as a director of theatre, film and performance art, and has collaborated in Jemma Kahn’s The Epicene Butcher and Other Stories for Consenting Adults and James Cairns’s El Blanco: Tales of the Mariachi, among others.
Known as Afurakan, KingKan Poetry assistant-curator for Season One
Considered the crown prince of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry culture, Afurakan is celebrated for his stage improvisations on hip-hop tunes and this talent has taken him across the African continent. Seminal to the spoken word movement in Johannesburg, this University of Johannesburg graduate (2004) is a wordsmith of note and he often performs at community centres and school for the purpose of spreading the word. Born in Alberton in 1982, he is today a founding member of TheMissingGap, a three piece rhythm and poetry outfit, which also includes BlastTheHumanBeat, acknowledged for his beat box skill and DJ Duce. Cofounder and chief executive officer of the Word N Sound Live Literature Company, since 2010, Afurakan has performed at the 2013 opening ceremony for the African Cup of Nations in London, the SANAA African festival in 2012 and Macufe in 2012, to name but a few.
Managing director and founder of the Word N Sound Live Literature Company, and project manager for Livity Africa’s Digify programme, Qhakazambalikayise Thato Mthembu has the energy and passion to be in more than one place at a time. She’s a multi-talented Rhodes-University-trained journalist, multimedia producer, writer, events organiser, arts enthusiast, education activist and a true reflection of the new energy propelling South African youth. She comes with credentials from Don’t Look Down Productions, and has worked as City Press’s multimedia editor. Miyela is the name of her education intervention non-profit organisation, but her interests lie in as diverse a series of directions of poetry, radio and graphic design.
The child of struggle veterans, Masai Nkululeko Dabula developed an affinity to art activism from a young age. He has distinguished himself as a performance artist since 2005, and has developed a strong critical reputation, internationally. In 2011, Dabula was acknowledged as King of the Mic in the Word N Sounds sphere, and in 2013, he was announced as Africa’s Slam Champion. He has since shared a stage with such prominent performance poets as Keorapetse Kgositsile, Lebo Mashile, Lesego Rampolokeng, Afurakan T Mohare, Joshua Bennet, Kabomo, Ian Kamau, Ewok, Myesha Jenkins, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers and Yrsa Daley-Ward, to name but a few, and his work has seen light of day in a 2011 anthology of South African poems, called The Ground’s Ear.
Designer and Co-curator of Blackboard Projections & At the End of the Road | Under the Bridge
a curator and consultant for museums, galleries, artists, and companies looking to create content driven creative exhibitions. With over 20 years experience in international TV & film production, specializing in post production, Dagan approaches any project as whole. By engaging and evoking audience through a merging of image, sound and space Dagan is able to create and translate these elements in to compelling stories. He believes strongly in a combination of innovation, simplicity and interactivity. Dagan has collaborated with artists such as Roger Ballen and William Kentridge. He was part of the design team for The Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre permanent exhibition, William Kentridge's dOCUMENTA 13 exhibition as well as The Refusal of Time, Bazel 2016.
Actor, Director and Filmmaker
Currently based in Johannesburg, Jemma Kahn read Fine Art and Drama at the University of the Witwatersand and then spent two years as a teacher of English in Japan. It was in this context that she learned kamishibai -- an illustrated story-telling theatre medium, which draws on ancient Japanese traditions. Kamishibai has had a strong influence on Kahn’s theatrical productions, which she has performed extensively both nationally and abroad, including The Epicene Butcher and Other Tales for Consenting Adults and We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants, among others. Her first theatre work, however which she staged in 1999, demonstrated her gift for working with an unconventional and exciting understanding of theatre. The work was entitled The Animals, and its script was devoid of human language.. Her first film Somebody You’ve Already Painted Many Times from Memory (2016) will be screened alongside her new film, premiering at The Centre for the Less Good Idea.
Painting, teaching painting and freelancing in his visual art career has kept Rhett Martyn relevant in Johannesburg – where he was born – over the last 20 years. He studied in Durban during the early 1990s, subsequently moving back to Johannesburg. In the early 2000s, Martyn began exploring the interface between the values of the digital era and conventional forms of art making and thus making meaning which retains an important spark of authenticity.
Independent Film Maker
Born and raised in KwaZulu-Natal, producer/writer/director Angus Gibson comes from a sheltered, middle class environment. He enrolled to study Economics at Wits University in 1975, but was swayed in his focus by The Passenger, a film by Antonioni, which solidified his dream to make films. Three years later, he dropped out of university, but was immediately conscripted into mandatory service in the South African Defense Force. Under the auspices of the army, Gibson taught English and mathematics in rural schools near the Kalahari Desert, an experience which proved instrumental in helping him develop his own perspectives. Dismissing his ideas of leaving the country to go into political exile, Gibson made his first TV drama in 1983. In 1985, Gibson co-formed Free Film-makers, and with filmmaker Mtututzeli Matshoba, began working in the genre of verité film, which tracked the lives of real people in South Africa, which was a starting point for his 7-Up South Africa project, and its manifestations as 14-Up, 21-Up and 28-Up respectively, which he embarked upon with the support of various production companies, including Al Jazeera. Concurrently, Gibson joined the Junction Avenue Theatre Company where he edited William Kentridge’s films. Also recognised for directing documentaries such as the authorised biography of Nelson Mandela, the SABC tv drama Yizo Yizo, in collaboration with Tebogo Mahlatsi and audio-visual installations for the Hector Pieterson in Soweto and the Apartheid museum south of Johannesburg. In partnership with Mahlatsi, Desiree Markgraaff and Isaac Shongwe, Gibson co-directs The Bomb Shelter Film Company (Pty) Ltd.
Living in Johannesburg since 2005, Jurgen Meekel was born in Amsterdam in 1963. He studied audio-visual design at the Rietveld Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1989, and has enjoyed a career as an exhibiting installation artist, developing skills in the fields of camera-work, sound-recording, compositing, visual effects, on/off line-editing, graphic/motion design and music scoring for video productions. Over the years, he has won international acknowledgement for sound-engineering and graphics in works such as Punt NL (2000), Starkiss (2002) and SMS Sugar Man (2005). Between 2005 and 2009 Meekel was head of department of special/visual effects at AFDA in Johannesburg. He currently works as a senior tutor in post production in Film and TV at the University of the Witwatersrand and has collaborated with theatre productions at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, in creating audio-visual asides in performed works.
Lindiwe, born in 1983, is an artist who uses theatre-making tools to extend into film, music and various other disciplines. She is interested in work that is collaborative, process-driven and experimental. A performer, director and writer, she has initiated projects such as The Donkey Child - a devised theatre piece involving 40 players of all ages - in collaboration with Hillbrow Theatre Project, and JHB MASSIVE: Jozi <-> Accra, a temporary collective of 15 artists that combined forces to get to Chale Wote Street Art Festival in James Town, Accra.
Theatre practitioner and assistant director on Beast Fur
Currently employed as a production assistant for POPArt Theatre in Maboneng, and assistant project co-ordinator of Urucu Media’s Realness, a Screenwriters’ residency at the Wits School of the Arts, Johannesburg-based Nicola Pilkington is rapidly sharpening her skills as a film and theatre director. With works such as Cooking for the Guatemalan Dream (2015) and William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (2016), under her belt, she is also rapidly earning the attention of critics and young audience members. Her Coriolanus travelled all over the city at more than 120 schools.
Skilled in puppeteering, illustration, animation and performance, Naomi van Niekerk graduated in dramatic arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2006, and developed her skills further at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette in France, subsequently. It was in her post-graduate course that she produced film work of an international standard and was able to tour many theatre shows including a self-written solo work entitled Epitaphe to significant festivals across Europe including the Avignon Festival (2009 and 2011) and the ‘International Puppetry festival in Charleville-Mézieres’ (2011). In 2013 she directed Sfeer, a multi-media performance piece supported by the Goethe Institut and the National Arts Council of South Africa featuring performance by Athena Mazarakis. In 2014, her works The Impermanence Museum and Kontinuum toured the world and were showcased at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2015 and 2016. While continuing to tour with different performance pieces, she is also focused on making animated films, using techniques such as stop-motion animation and sand animation. In 2016, she won the Jean-Luc Xiberras Award for the best first film at the Annecy International Film Festival for her short film An ordinary blue Monday, which has been selected to be screened at some 30 festivals world-wide and has most recently been included in the Short of the year selection in Madrid, Spain.
Born in Tzaneen in the Limpopo province in 1985, Blessing Ngobeni trained at the Artist Proof Studio in Newtown Johannesburg. Coming from a poor background, as a youngster, Ngobeni moved to the city of Johannesburg, where he exposed to crime and at the age of 15, he was arrested for collaborating in a robbery. He was imprisoned for a period of six years, and it was while he was incarcerated that he began making art, having come into contact with the Tsoga (Wake Up) Art Project. In 2012, Ngobeni was awarded the annual Reinhold Cassirer Award, which represented an emergence into public awareness and also a residency at the Bag Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg. He has developed a unique expression that draws from his voracious consumption of western art history, and a fierce and bold engagement with political rhetoric, which is often overtly critical toward the decisions and behaviour of the powers that be. Ngobeni has, since 2012, hosted several solo exhibitions at a range of venues, from the Diepkloof Library to Gallery Momo. He has also enjoyed working stints at David Krut Publishing and the Johannesburg Art Gallery, as well as the Michaelis Art Library in the Johannesburg Central Library, and Red Pepper Productions, where he worked as head puppeteer, puppet show director and trainee cameraman. Most recently, Ngobeni has been featured in Phaidon’s Vitamin P3, a publication which provides an international overview of the state of painting, focusing on how artists challenge the boundaries of painting.
Third generation Angolan, performance artist Teresa Kutala Firmino was born in Pomfret in the North West Province in 1993. Her grandparents fled their homeland at the outbreak of the Angolan war in 1975. Firmino studied Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, graduating in 2016 and in her work, she creates space in which she places large scale installations, that are populated with characters of her own creation, which she refers to as self-writing. She has created performances for the Martienssen Exhibition, which falls under the aegis of the Wits Fine Arts Department, and the Conte Magazine Revolution issue launch, among others. Firmino collaborates with Helena Uambembe, a multimedia artist who also originates from Pomfret in the North West Province. Born in 1994, Uambembe is still a student reading for her national diploma in fine and applied arts at the University of the North West. Also born to Angolan parents who fled the civil war in the 1970s, Uambembe explores her father’s role in the 32 Battalion in her work. Firmino and Uambembe together call themselves Kutala Chopeta, which represents an investigation into their controversial work which aims to be uncomfortable. They attempt to rewrite and reconstruct Angola’s civil war history, with a close reading of how it was represented in the media and documentaries. Kutala Chopeto sources stories from the formerly Angolan communities now resident in Pomfret, and both artists work toward confronting difficult questions in the hope of promoting healing.
Filmmaker (Superhero and Glitch)
Singer, songwriter, storyteller, dancer, actor and rapper, John “Sparks Napoli” Makatise hailes from Durban where he was born in 1983. He creates stories based on fact, and brings them to life with a unique sound track. It was under the auspices of the Superdream project that Makatise created his first short documentary about Jeppestown, but all of his filmmaking projects have been significantly educational for him. He learned to edit film in Jeppestown Superhero, his first short film, which was commissioned by ConnectZA and The Trinity Session was my first short film. Today, Makatise runs his own recording studio, called DankieZalo, which is located in Jeppestown and forms part of the creative nexus of the JeppeJoziCreativeNetwork.
Performer in films Superhero and Glitch
From Kwaito music to comedy, filmmaking to script writing, Michael “Physical Mazibuko is one of the young people who has been shaped by the Superdream artist project based in Jeppestown. While he was in matric in 2001, this resident of Zola, Soweto, realised his personal urge to be a professional in the art industry. He became involved with Superdream at the end of 2013, and was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Black Screen Productions, where the focus is not only on creating top quality work, but material that is aware of the need to keep youngsters off the streets of the city and out of the reach of street crimes and drugs.
Film maker (Superhero and Glitch)
Schooled in Johannesburg’s inner city and resident in the suburb of Jeppestown, 25-year-old Jabulani Khwela, has developed a wide range of multimedia skills, from silkscreen to filmmaking. He cofounded isiJimbosi Street Arts Organisation and Black Screen Film Production, both of which are about bringing creative arts to the community of the inner city. He has also been involved in projects such as Jeppe Park Superdream, Art Works (a graffiti-focused initiative), Urban Farming in Jeppestown and Platinum Sketch, all of which are initiatives to bring back a sense of positivity and value to society. In addition, Khwela is a member of the Creative Triad – alongside Aphiwe Maqungo and Anthony Veli Sithole – this company just over a year old, aims to be a bridge between arts and business, in and around Maboneng.
Assistant on film set for Glitch
One of the participants in Boundless Arts and Superdream, Johannesburg-based projects, is Johannesburg-born Bonga Gamede who is currently enrolled for Grade 12 at Orlando High School. Having nurtured dreams of being a graphic designer, Gamede loves to draw, design and create logos, and understands what he might be missing out on, as his school does not offer art for matric. Fuel for his creative passions and thirst to learn more about the industry is therefore coming to him directly from the industry itself.
Adaptor and director of Kafka's Ape
Having settled in South Africa in the early 1990s, due to unrest in his homeland of Serbia, photographer and filmmaker Duško Marović, has diversified his skills in the related skills of commercials, corporate films, features and installations. Born in 1969 and educated in the field of telecommunication studies, Marović is known for a variety of critically impressive works including The War Photographers, The Kingfisher and The Passion of Christ. Since 2011 he has filmed for William Kentridge’s theatre productions and art installations such as The Refusal of Time, Lulu, More Sweetly Play the Dance, Notes Towards the Model Opera and Wozzeck, to name but a few.
Theatre practitioner and front of house
Graduate of AFDA in Johannesburg, Hayleigh Evans was born in 1985. In 2011, she cofounded POPArt: a theatre, production company and performing arts centre in Johannesburg's Maboneng Precinct. POPArt stands for People of Performing Art, and it aims to provide a platform for showcasing some of the freshest work and ideas from Johannesburg’s most exciting performing arts talents. The theatre and its subsidiaries are focused on elevating the standard, reputation and accessibility of the local performing arts. In less than ten years, the venue has hosted more than 400 new productions, with a bid to radically alter how Johannesburg sees itself.
Performance coach for Samuel Becketts Not I
An actor with a clear love for site-specificity in her work and a passion for radio theatre, Gretha Brazelle is completely bilingual and has a great talent for mimicking accents. Having completed a performers’ diploma at the University of Cape Town, she began to develop her professional career in Bloemfontein under the then Performing Arts Council of the Free State (Pacofs). An award winning performer, she also co-created the monodrama Naai which grabbed critics’ attention from the outset. In addition, she has skills as a dialogue and performance coach.
Costume designer for The Blind Mass Orchestra
Armed with a fashion design background and mentored into maturity by set designer Nadya Cohen, Noluthando Lobese Moropa has been nominated for several awards and has travelled the world with her designs for theatre under a range of directors, including Lesedi Job, James Ngcobo, Vanessa Cooke and others. She’s had the opportunity of studying under Sweden’s theatre maestro Charlie Koroly and she’s enabled her theatre design background to digress into the visual arts. She was one of the artists on JHB Massive a project showcased at the street festival in Accra,Ghana 2015.
Co-founder of POP Art Theatre and front of house for the Centre
POPArt stands for People of Performing Art, and it aims to provide a platform for showcasing some of the freshest work and ideas from Johannesburg’s most exciting performing arts talents. The theatre and its subsidiaries are focused on elevating the standard, reputation and accessibility of the local performing arts. In less than ten years, the venue has hosted more than 400 new productions, with a bid to radically alter how Johannesburg sees itself.