Arts festival with an edge

Prof Tawana Kupe, founder of the Wits
Arts and Literature Experience named
Wale 4.0, said this year’s programme is
set to establish the festival as one of the
country’s esteemed arts event.

Bongi Lecoge-Zulu, a former student at
Wits, performed at the launch of Wale 4.0

Elaine Hirschowitz is one of the artists who
will be exhibiting at this year’s festival
(Images: Nosimilo Ramela)

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Nosimilo Ramela

The fourth annual Wits Arts and Literature Experience, also known as Wale 4.0, runs from 11 to 14 May 2011 and celebrates rising local talent and well-known South African artists.

It was launched at The Adler Museum of Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits) Faculty of Health Sciences in Johannesburg on 20 April.

Boasting a diverse four-day programme, the festival will feature performances by 15 well-known artists, 27 student productions, and 33 Wits staff and alumni contributions. All performances will take place at the Johannesburg-based institution.

“Our new team has delivered an exceptional programme said Wale founder, Prof Tawana Kupe. It really takes forward what we’ve built up over the past few years to create a significant arts event that makes Johannesburg a real cultural destination in May.”

Speaking at the launch Kupe said it was important that the university remains accessible to the community. “Often universities become communities unto themselves, however it is important for us to retain the university space to the larger community that we are part of.”

He said in creating this year’s programme the emphasis has been placed on collaboration as well as opening the university’s doors to all citizens to come and enjoy a creative line-up in their own city. “It’s about opening up the festival, broadening its offering and tipping it over the edge”.

To establish its position as one of the country’s esteemed arts festivals, Wale 4.0 will host an impressive opening concert on 11 May at the Wits Great Hall Plaza. The show will feature well-known band Kwani Experience, among other celebrated musicians, dance productions and poetry performances, which will kick off the four-day event.

“Over the past three years Wale has built itself into one of the country’s best festivals,” said Wits theatre general manager Ahraf Johaardien.

Participants

Elaine Hirschowitz, one of the artists who will be exhibiting at this year’s festival, said she is looking forward to sharing her art with the public. “Art is a form of therapy. When you communicate or share something you’re going through with others, you start to heal.”

Hirschowitz, an art and psychology graduate, said she uses her work to find peace, beauty, and healing during hard times. “Art helps me to find harmony in a world that can often be very cruel.”

Bongi Lecoge-Zulu, a former student at Wits, performed at the launch of Wale 4.0. With a decade worth of experience, she wowed guests with her refined flute-playing skills. “I’m excited to be part of the festival, I look forward to playing at the opening concert, and encourage everyone to come and enjoy the festival.”

Diverse line-up

Theatre production Smoke and Mirrors, directed by well-known South African choreographer and performer Athena Mazarakis – in partnership with the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaboration, will be performed at the Wits theatre during the festival. “We live our lives negotiating an endless series of smoke and mirrors,” said Mazarakis.

Other performances theatre-lovers can look forward to include Planet B presented by respected director Helen Iskander. Sexetera, directed by Phyllis Klotz, also promises to impress audiences. The Titled, directed by Eliot Moleba, will be another theatre highlight this year. This production is an expansion from Moleba’s 2010 Wale piece called The Untitled.

For music-lovers the festival will feature international music icon Zim Ngqawana’s Zimology. During the course of his 30-year career as a musician, Ngqawana has created the “Zimology” philosophy based on the belief that music can help people connect with their true selves.

A musical concert, to be held in honour of the late academic and musicologist Mary Rorich, promises to be another highlight of the festival.

The film element of Wale 4.0 has also been heightened, with 10 film screenings during this year’s event. Four of these will be a reflection of the festival’s impact on greater Johannesburg.

There will be a book fair at the festival certifying literature as a strong feature of Wale 4.0. It will feature booksellers and publishers as well as a full programme of launches.

There will also be discussions and debates added to this year’s programme. These will give individuals an opportunity to share their festival experiences and explore some of the topics and themes presented throughout the event.