Arts take over at Wits

IT IS that time of the year when the University of the Witwatersrand is transformed into a haven of artistic mastery.

IT IS that time of the year when the University of the Witwatersrand is transformed into a haven of artistic mastery.

On offer is a sampling of theatre, music, lectures, film and drama at the The Wits Arts and Literature Experience festival.

Expect world-class theatre from the main theatre programme, alongside an extensive line-up of cutting-edge, topical and interdisciplinary productions from the Young Directors' Season at the 2010 Wale.

Wale's main programme, staged at the Wits Theatre, boasts three prestigious plays headlined by William Shakespeare's Othello.

Othello is directed by renowned director, actor and playwright John Kani and designed by award-winner Sarah Roberts.

"Othello 's themes are as relevant in South Africa today as they were in England 400 years ago when it was written."

" Othello gives us a chance to examine how much our attitudes have changed (or not) on race, colour and sex", Kani says.

Wits School of Arts students and professional actors make up the cast of Othello.

A Theatre in Education programme is offered to schools, based on the Othello text and in conjunction with the production. Othello will run from April 9 to 24.

Not-to-be-missed is Tsela - a collaborative piece that emerged out of its creators' re-imagining of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, conceptualised and directed by Wits drama staff and director Kabi Thulo.

Miss Margarida's Way, directed by Wits drama staffer Jessica Lejowa, was originally written by Roberto Athyde during the politically unstable 1970s in Brazil. The message is pertinent to South Africa today.

Folk Memoir Orators' Triple Bill, directed by Jefferson Tshabalala, features three new original plays, Ekasi Lam, Umkhonto we Ntsizwa and Amakwerekwere. Through each play, Folk Memoir Orators explores themes ranging from the "romanticised intricacies of ghetto residential life, boy soldiers in armed liberation struggles and xenophobia", Tshabalala says.

In keeping with Wale's commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration comes Neutrally Overexposed, which merges photography with theatre.

Songs for a New World, a contemporary musical presented by the Wits School of Arts, is directed by award-winning actress, director and playwright Gina Shmukler, with music and lyrics by Tony-Award Winner Jason Robert Brow.

Shmukler's work, one the three main billings at the festival, runs from April 14 to 24.