To mark the celebration of Africa Day, UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment present ‘Hlakanyana’ at the UJ Arts Centre set to open on 25 May. After a long development journey since the advent of Covid-19, ‘Hlakanyana’ is set to bring folklore, award-winning music, and magic to the Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre at the UJ Arts Centre this Africa Day. Directed by South African theatre icon Janice Honeyman and featuring some of South Africa’s most promising emerging artists, ‘Hlakanyana’ features a cunning, unethical creature, depicted in animal or human form, and who is the long-awaited son of the chief of a village, but instead of being a uniting force, he leaves devastation in his wake.
A retelling of the traditional Zulu folktale, ‘Hlakanyana’ is an Afrofuturistic fusion of traditional folklore in a contemporary world. The trickster Hlakanyana is an anti-hero, beset by isolation and forging a path in a rapidly changing world. Many of the issues South Africa is facing now, such as gender-based violence, corruption, the lack of mentorship and moral guidance and uncertainty are explored through the medium of folklore. On a more personal level, isolation and the revising of people’s worldview and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo is also found in the fabric of the play’s script.
In its ninth draft, perfected by MoMo Matsunyane, ‘Hlakanyana’ is ready to draw audiences under its spell with a stellar cast including Sandisile Dlangalala, Dolly Louw, MoMo Matsunyane, Sibusiso Mxosana, Manakomba Ndimande, Siphiwe Nkabinde, Mphumzi Nontshinga and Kensiwe Mathebula Tshabalala.
“Since inception, the FADA Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme facilitated the collaboration of second-year students from across the faculty on the design of various elements of a professional production produced by UJ Arts & Culture. With ‘Hlakanyana’, this interdisciplinary and collaborative intent of the programme was embraced by extending these creative processes to a range of professionals including writers, actors, musicians, composers, dancers, and choreographers to create the much anticipated musical we are delighted to present in partnership with Madevu Entertainment,” said Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture.
The ‘Hlakanyana’ journey started in 2020 when it was commissioned by UJ Arts & Culture as part of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture’s flagship Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme. However, like so many other projects and performances planned for that year, the programme came to a halt in April with the onset of the Covid-19 Lockdown. Despite the stringent restrictions, UJ Arts & Culture under Pieter Jacobs innovatively revised their strategy and Madevu Entertainment’s Zolani Shangase and Michael William Wallace and Honeyman were invited to continue the creation and development of the musical using the popular online platforms available.
In September 2020, five songs from the ‘Hlakanyana’ score were recorded live with composer Sne Dladla, lyricist Dionne Song, the Viwe Mkizwana Jazz Band and released as ‘The Sounds of Hlakanyana’ on various digital platforms on Heritage Day in 2021. In lieu of a stage production, UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment partnered with Sebastian Burger and Callum Stout of the animation company Ohoneone to create an aural-visual animation that captured a sense of the story. ‘The Sounds of Hlakanyana’ has just won Best Public Performance at 7th Humanities and Social Sciences Awards 2022 from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The stage production features new arrangements and compositions by Viwe Mkizwana, under co Musical Director Dale Ray Scheepers.
‘Hlakanyana’ will run at the UJ Arts Centre on the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park from 25 May to 8 June.
UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment acknowledge the support of the Arts & Culture Trust, the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC), Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), Distell, the Western Cape Governments DCAS (Department of Culture, Arts, and Sport) and the Department of Sports Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy Fund.
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