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San culture on stage in multimedia production

05/10/2010 13:31:49

Artslink.co.za News
Tales from South Africa's often forgotten indigenous community - the San people - will be shared on stage in ‘Son of the Wind' at Artscape Theatre from 27 May 2010.

Son of the Wind is an exciting multimedia production starring members of two San tribes, the !Xun and the Khwe living in the heart of the Northern Cape, South Africa. With the help of a spirit guide, Jackal, young Bushmen, Dala learns the truth of what his people suffered in Angola, caught in the midst of a war that was not theirs.

The South African San Institute (SASI) is spearheading the production which will feature amateur actors drawn from the !Xun and Khwe San tribes from Platfontein. SASI is a non-governmental organisation with an interest in preserving the San culture. The !Xun and Khwe cast members and other actors have been training and rehearsing ‘Son of the Wind' for over six months and are ready to hit the road with their talents. Interestingly, the ‘Son of the Wind' is told in a fair amount of the indigenous !Xun language with accompanied subtitles.

"This project is a different medium from what society expects to see from the San. With the production of this play the San can show that they have much more to offer the world, and that they too, have a place in the modern context," says Meryl-Joy Schippers of the theatre production.

The cast of ‘Son of the Wind' are from Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It includes Benjamin Masseka from Angola and Riekert Moyo, Elsabé Chifuko and Wentzel Katjara from Namibia. The South African cast members are Wesleigh Maritz and Tommy Katjara. These amateur actors carry fascinating histories and life experiences.

All cast members save Wesleigh Maritz, have English as their third language. As not all the actors speak English, especially older members of the ensemble, this show's director has worked via a translator.

‘Son of the Wind' is the result of committed research and a collaboration of creative talent drawn from various continents. Misty Brodiaea, the show's writer and stage director, is a graduate of the Theater School at DePaul University, one of the top three acting conservatories in America. She came to South Africa a for a two-year volunteer stint with the United States Peace Corps in 2007. This year she returns to work with SASI and tour with the production. Brodiaea brings with her more than 10 years of experience working in theatre and television as an actor, writer and director in Europe and America. She also served as artistic director of Go Time Productions in Amsterdam where she premiered her writer-director skills with ‘Eli's Lullaby'.

Meryl-Joy Schippers, who has served as SASI director since 2002, is excited that the creative process has "flowed from the heart" of the San community. She has worked with SASI since 1999 but her work with vulnerable communities stretches to a prior experience as an educator in underprivileged areas of the Cape Flats in Cape Town. She has also worked as a health researcher with the Medical Research Council.

Riekert Moyo, who stars as Dala in the show, and Tommy Katjara both matriculated from the !XunKhwesa High School in Platfontein. Moyo went on to work for the SABC as a voice actor for the popular children's television programme ‘Takalani Sesame'. He believes that his participation in ‘Son of the Wind' is important because it "tells the important stories of ancestors that are not told in other places". Benjamin Masseka meanwhile works in the security industry with Protea Coin Security and served as a soldier from 1990 until 1995. And Wesleigh Maritz works at BMW in Kimberley as a sales executive.

‘Son of the Wind' also incorporates filming by director Craig Foster. Craig and his brother Damon run Foster Brother Films and are widely regarded as South Africa's leading documentary filmmakers. They have almost 20 years of experience in the film industry and have earned 50 international awards.

Their film ‘The Great Dance', which follows three San men on a perilous hunt through the Kalahari, was the winner of Best Film award at the recent Encounters documentary film festival.

The multi-national team of ‘Son of the Wind' also has roots in the United Kingdom in the form of its lighting and set designer Jez Cox. He studied fine art and photography at the Art College in the UK and then spent three years in London where he studied all aspects of technical theatre and design interpretation at The Central School of Speech and Drama. The latter is the UK's premier theatre school for scenery design and technical theatre. Cox's work includes the design and production of events for the British royal family, Bloomberg, Pirelli, and Cartier. When he moved to Amsterdam in late 2000 he built a name for himself within the Dutch theatre and events scene and has worked with organisations such as the Dutch National Ballet company, the Netherlands Opera, the Holland Symphony and smaller companies with which he has toured the world.

This show is part of Artscape's Indigenous Arts Department which was established in 2007 to develop, mentor and preserve South African indigenous customs through the arts at grassroots level. With this comes the responsibility to affirm, by providing platforms for art forms, cultures and languages that have been previously marginalised. And all the while, artistic excellence remains at the core of development.

‘Son of the Wind' runs at the Artscape Theatre from 27 May - 30 May.

For more information check www.artscape.co.za  and ticket bookings contact Computicket on 083 915 8000 or Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695, ticket price R100.

Please contact Candice Jansen on cell: 076 958 9593 to set up interviews with the organisers and producers of this production.

Issued by: Artscape
Frikkie Odendaal

Related Venue:
Artscape Theatre Complex, DF Malan Street Foreshore Cape Town Western Cape South Africa


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