03 September 2015 Volume :3 Issue :41

UKZN Drama Students Host Successful Sivuka Drama Festival

UKZN Drama Students Host Successful Sivuka Drama Festival
UKZN Drama students and founders of the hit Sivuka Festival.

Six UKZN Drama students kick-started the week-long Sivuka Festival, an initiative of WordPlay, to evoke interest and involvement in different artistic expressions.

The students are Mr Sbonelo Msimang; Ms Nqobile Mthembu; Ms Princess Shibanda; Ms Stephanie Jenkins; Ms Nomvelo Gwala and Ms Nomagugu Gumede.

The Festival, which ran from 24-29 August, was free and open to the public with various shows at the UKZN Drama Department’s studios and theatres.

Festival-goers were also privy to various talks, presentations and insider information about the Performing Arts industry by prominent artists such as Ukhozi FM’s Hlengiwe Mbatha and internationally acclaimed Director and Producer, Edmund Mhlongo. Festival-goers were also given the chance to see performances that were presented at the 2015 National Arts Festival.

The Festival line up aimed to inspire, motivate, mentor and advise young artists. In addition, performance pieces - plays, live music, poetry and dance - were incorporated into the line up to create a vibrant week of exploration and sharing of the wealth of creativity between fellow artists, both young and experienced.

Some of the shows that got rave reviews were Stop Xenophobia, directed by Zakes Gumede and performed by Thandolesizwe High School learners, Slam Poetry by Ms Sanam Sitaram; Remember, I’m Watching You, written and directed by Stephanie Jenkins, and a stand-up comedy show by Mazwi Mkhize.

Speaking about the Festival, Mthembu said, ‘The focus of the Festival was the young artist; the undergraduate students of UKZN in the Drama and Performance Studies department, with particular focus on the young female artist. The aim was to create the opportunity for the audience to be aware of the wonderful and complex dimensions of being an artist in any field and be and feel successful doing what your heart compels you to.’

Gumede explained the thinking behind the Festival’s name: ‘Sivuka comes from the idea, the image, the understanding of an awakening. Sivuka - as we rise, as we transition, as we imagine, as we conceptualise, we materialise reality.

‘The aim, the calling for this Festival was to evoke such - an awakening of sorts. Through an exchange among the learners and the artists who have established themselves, we want to create a platform for learning, entertainment, exchanging of experiences, knowledge and fuelling passion.’

Said Jenkins: ‘We realise the impact Art has in the livelihood of people; to conscientise, to entertain and most importantly to educate and create. We live in a society where we are told of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and we are encouraged to use those freedoms but somehow never get the tools and platform to do so.

‘Our initiative was to create that place! A place where all of this is possible - unity among artists, students; a place, even just for a week, where someone’s passion can be fuelled.’

The founders of the festival are keen to develop it into an annual event for the UKZN Drama Department and have called on students and staff to support them.

Find them on Facebook: @Sivuka Festival.

Melissa Mungroo

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