The “champagne” is on ice, the Umqombothi is being brewed and the boeber is being cooked, as Artscape gears up to celebrate the golden jubilee of the building on Wednesday, 19 May.
Opened on the same day in 1971 in the heydays of Apartheid as the Nico Malan theatre the building now known as Artscape will be reverberating with a jam-packed day of events. The celebrations will focus on the transition of the Arts and Artscape in particular as it changed through the decades of Apartheid exclusivity, fledgling transition at the dawn of democracy in 1994, to its eventual name change in 2000 through to a theatre transformed at present day that is inclusive of all art forms and open to all.
Artscape staff members (current and previous) will be in for a special treat early morning at 10:00 with various activities such as the Long Service Award ceremony and performances featuring Artscape’s associated companies (including Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Unmute Dance Company, JazzArt) and individual artists such as Zinzi Nogavu, Gary Naidoo and Lui V amongst others.
Late afternoon at 17:00 sees the ceremonial unveiling of The EVERYWOMAN Project. In rainbow colours and stretching over 7m, this is a unique textile artwork hand sewn and stitched together by many hundreds of women from all districts of Cape Town – from Gugulethu and Bonteheuwel to Khayelitsha, Stellenbosch, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain, Sea Point, Southern Suburbs, West Coast, Goodwood and Nyanga. Appropriately created from the shweshwe fabric donated by Da Gama Textiles for the 60th anniversary celebration of the 1956 Women’s March back in 2016, it’s taken some years to complete, but it comes with love, respect and gratitude from Artscape associate NPO WOMAN ZONE and each and every one of the women who helped make it. Sometimes called ‘The Singing Skirt’ from the tinkling sound of the recycled tin lids that edge it and also ‘The Blessing Blanket’ for all the handwritten blessings tucked into it, it is proof of what can be done when people work together, echoing the mandate of Artscape itself.
As the sun sets at 18:00 the celebrations continue with a toast to the building by well-known celebrities as well as Western Cape government officials to whom the building belongs.
The big moment arrives at 19:30 as the Artscape Opera House comes alive with the hosting of the South African premiere of Mthuthuzeli November’s Olivier award-winning Ingoma, presented by the Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) as part of its Autumn Season. Commissioned by Cassa Pancho for Ballet Black in London, and choreographed by South African born November, INGOMA collected prestigious awards including the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production as well as Best Dance Production at the Black British Theatre Awards following its premiere in 2019 at the Barbican Theatre and run at the Lindbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House. In juxtaposition to this powerful, visceral work, audiences will be able to enjoy the pastoral fantasy of LES SYLPHIDES. Sylphs of imaginary spirits dance in the moonlight with the “poet” to the exquisite composition of Frederic Chopin.
Says Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux: “Five decades ago the theatre officially opened its doors to the public in spectacular fashion showcasing the ballet Sylvia with Phyllis Spira as the prima ballerina. It was a performance exclusively for white patrons as regulated by Apartheid laws. It is thus befitting that we should equally celebrate the 50-year milestone in similar fashion especially by hosting a truly African work in the lead up to Africa day that portrays the inclusive transformation that Artscape has become a home for all”.
Echo’s CTCB CEO Debbie Turner: “As we mark the auspicious occasion of 50 years of the Artscape building, we are proud to be presenting the local premiere of an internationally acclaimed production, choreographed by a South African for an international stage. INGOMA sets the benchmark for the next 50 years of dynamic, groundbreaking dance at Artscape, and underlines the power of performance to honour the past, inspire our future and communicate stories through a diverse range of works”.
To this end, the theatre is also going to make available a visitors’ book at Box Office where patrons will be able to write their messages of support, encouragement and experiences. Patrons preferring to send their messages electronically are encouraged to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The festivities leading up to the spectacular occasion kicked-off on 20 March with the opening concert, directed by Basil Appollis and featuring Artscape Theatre’s associated companies and iconic Cape Town performers continues to be delivered to audiences through the Artscape YouTube channel, free of charge.
As part of ongoing celebrations, Artscape is also displaying a costume exhibition portraying the unforgettable moments (from Nico to Artscape) for various productions dating back from 1971 to the present day.
The rolling exhibition, located at the Opera House Chandelier Foyer is open to the public free of charge. Visitors and patrons are able to enjoy a trip down memory lane and get a glimpse or reminder of the glitz and glamour of the costumes which graced our stages in multiple performances over the years from the Opera, operetta, Drama, Ballet, Musicals and Jazzart.
All activities comply with all COVID-19 regulations including social distancing and patrons must wear masks for entry.
Bookings for the ballet (R250 – R300) and exhibition tours can be made at Artscape Dial-a-seat 021 421 7695.
For media enquiries, please contact Themba Mzondi on 078 113 5216 or email Themba@sceproductions.co.za
Issued by: Artscape Theatre Centre
Senior Manager: Communications and Brand Management
Contact: 073 207 1558