Showing off the youth’s talent through art

With a range of events scheduled, Artscape Theatre’s Youth Month programme was launched to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1976 student protests.

The events, which kicked off with the Sekunjalo Edujazz Concert, featuring Jimmy Nevis, on Saturday June 4, includes ALLBasters (the hip-hop production that brings South African and Dutch artists together), performances by the Benjamin Jephta Quintet, the hip-hop production Cape Town’s Most Wanted, the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival and Oratorio of a Forgotten Youth: Musical Reflections on the Youth of ‘76.

Commenting on the motivation behind putting the programme together, Mandla Mbothwe, creative manager at Artscape, says: “As Artscape, we are always keen to tell our national stories and recognise the nuclear moments of our heritage, whether political or social.

“Remembrance through storytelling is very important to us as a theatre.”

With the student protests of June 16, 1976, being one of the seminal moments in South Africa’s history, this year’s 40th year commemoration lends itself perfectly to the expansive programme aimed at this “remembrance through storytelling”.

Mr Mbothwe is also the musical director of Oratorio of a Forgotten Youth: Musical Reflections on the Youth of ’76, which will be staged tomorrow, Thursday June 16, at 5pm.

The line-up includes actresses Thembi Mtshali-Jones, Bo Petersen, Celeste Matthews-Wannenburgh and Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu, as well as poets Koleka Putuma, Siphokazi Jonas and Janine van Rooy (more popularly known as Blaq Pearl).

In addition to visuals by multimedia artist Sanjin Muftic, the production also features the talents of musicians such as percussionist Dizu Plaatjies, multi-instrumentalist Mark Fransman, bass player Brydon Bolton as well as librettist Lesego Rampolokeng.

Mr Mbothwe said: “I always had this desire to juxtapose more legendary artists with born-free poets and allow them to engage with a central theme and that opportunity was afforded me by the 40 years commemoration of June 16.

“The power of this show is allowing each artist to come up with their own personal narratives reflecting on youth of ’76 and the youth of today.”

Merging the talents of the youth of today and the youth of previous generations is what the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival is doing.

Under the theme “100% South African”, the programme sees young jazz students interpreting songs by legendary South African musicians, such as Hugh Masekela, Winston Mankunku and Marcus Wyatt.

Under the musical directorship of vocalist Amanda Tiffin, the programme will culminate in a performance on Saturday June 18, at 7.30pm.

* For a full schedule of events as well as ticket prices, visit www.artscape.co.za