Celebrating people with disabilities

The Unmute ArtsAbility Festival will include a number of events over six days.

Artscape will host the fifth annual Unmute ArtsAbility Festival from Thursday November 28 to Tuesday December 3.

There will be live performances, theatre shows, exhibitions, installations, site-specific shows, workshops, and public art performances in and around Cape Town in celebrating
the International Month for Persons with Disability.

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Unmute ArtsAbility Festival, Unmute Dance Theatre has partnered with Artscape Theatre Centre, Theatre in the Backyard, Khayelitsha Art School and Rehabilitation Centre and ES Records with financial support from Surve Philanthropies, the National Arts Council
and The Goethe Institute to present a theme called SHIFT (Spaces and Homes Integration Festival of Transformation) with a display of collaborative artistic works by artists with mixed-abilities (with and without disabilities) from mixed genres (music, dance, drama, visual arts, etc).

The festival will start on Thursday November 28, at 5pm, with a music and dance performance film, HERE, by film-maker Shelley Barry and artists with disabilities from across the country at the Artscape Isibaya.

The film, which premiered at the National Arts Festival, will be followed by a showcase of professional works by “Unmute and Friends” at 7.30pm at the Artscape Theatre.

Taking the stage will be more than 20 mix-abled artists from across the country brought together in one space and one performance that will be highlighting what inclusion means to all artists through an integrated dance performance.

Audiences on Friday November 29, at noon, will witness a showcase of works created during the Unmute Schools Outreach Programme with Astra School, Mary Kihn School for the Deaf, Eros School, Africa Jam Youth Group and Project Playground from Langa and Gugulethu, featuring works by Unmute Dance Company in celebrating Ability Day.

The free event is aimed at encouraging the youth to break the barriers and stigma that is attached to disability and make them realise that we are all abled and have our own abilities.

On Saturday November 30 from, 1pm to 6pm, Unmute’s Inclusive SA Programme will be showcasing young talents from across the country in the form of dancers, actors, musicians, designers and visual artists, including Uhusiano by Foot Expression Dance Company (Kerksdorp, North West), Sheba by Kutloano Headbush (Gauteng), I Stand Tall by Nyathela Art Works (Witbank, Mpumalanga).

As well as two of Unmute Dance Company’s present works that recently had their world-premiere in Berlin, Germany, – 21 Questions by Nadine McKenzie and Bloodbath by Siphenathi Mayekiso.

The show will be followed by The Kingdom of Ubuntu, at 8pm, a music concert directed by Elvis Sibeko and comprising of singers and rappers from ES Records with the aim of showcasing Afrofuturism and depicting the ideal world of Ubuntu.

On Monday December 2, from 1pm to 6pm, Unmute will be taking the festival to townships with the aim of creating inclusive platforms for artists and people living with disabilities who might not have the opportunity to go and see theatre performances.

“Kasi Ability” will showcase professional works created by Unmute Dance Company in collaboration with Kasi RC, Mandisi Sondo and invited artists through a blind date maze experience that will be taking audiences through the township and presenting performances at the Shack Theatre.

The festival will then wrap up on Tuesday December 3, from 1pm to 6pm, with “ArtsAbility in the Backyard” which will witness the transformation of performance spaces from the present to the future by turning two residential streets and five backyards into an inclusive art experience for the Nyanga community.

The free event will showcase a variety of professional theatre work by artists with mixed abilities, an open mic session where local artists will have the platform to showcase their talents, exhibition area by artists living with a disability and an interactive, inclusive play area for young people with and without disabilities.

ArtsAbility is an end product of artistic workshops/creations and programming that is facilitated by artists who are currently pioneering inclusive arts in South Africa from the Unmute Dance Theatre.

Tickets for all productions cost from R50 to R150 and are available at Computicket or Artscape-Dial-a-Seat at 021 421 7695.