Live theatre sprouts in Alex
Top director Ntshieng Mokgoro behind launch
THEATRE director Ntshieng Mokgoro will launch a production company on March 31 at Thusong Youth Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Called Olive Tree Theatre Productions, the company aims to become a conduit for theatre talent in Alexandra.
Some might dismiss this development as just another theatre company, but Mokgoro is no ordinary individual.
Her background in theatre epitomises several dynamics in a country where resources are scarce and the distribution of such resources is a contested terrain between those who previously had and th e historically disadvantaged.
For example, Alex, where Mokgoro hails from, hardly has a functional theatre venue and theatre equipment is non-existent. Despite this, she made it into mainstream theatre.
Voted one of the 300 most influential young people in South Africa by an influential newspaper a few years ago, Mokgoro is one of the first black females to win The Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Theatre and the Graham Lindop Theatre Award for Best Young Director.
She is ranked among the best female theatre directors in the country, alongside Lara Foot Newtown, Claire Stopford, Fiona Ramsay and Janice Honeyman.
Working mostly from makeshift theatres and facing a tough working environment in Alex, Mokgoro produced some excellent productions, delighting audiences both nationally and internationally.
Her productions include Umdlwembe, which won the Standard Bank Best Youth Production, Veil of Tears, which was nominated for the 2006-2007 Naledi Awards, and Thursday Child, which toured Europe in 2009 and took part in the Linz Youth Festival.
She also collaborated with Monde Manyephu on his production, The Pen, which she directed to great acclaim.
Mokgoro says: "Olive Tree Theatre Productions is a vehicle to promote mainly women in theatre and the arts.
"We will engage with others to bring new stories to the stage.
"Stories that we share when we listen to others or when we plait each other's hair or cook and gossip at family gatherings ... stories that seem hard to leave our kitchen tables" saysMokgoro.
The launch line-up has two shows:
* 'Loyile Lamabala', written by Lynn Kekana, adapted and directed by Mokgoro, and
* This is for Keeps', originally work-shopped by Vanessa Cooke, Danny Keogh and Honeyman for the Market Theatre, adapted by cast - Makgano Mamabolo, Sello Motloung and Mokgoro - and directed by Mokgoro.
* There will also be poetry during intermission by Vuyelwa Maluleke, a fourth-year BA dramatic arts student at Wits University and Tewop poetry slam winner.
* The event will end with a three-course dinner and music by the Flaming Souls.