Category Archives: Insider Talk

Mastering Versatility: Interview With Actress Diana Masters

Versatility is a talent honed by very few- and that list has Zimbabwean-born actress Diana Masters on it.

Masters has starred in numerous theatre and film work and manages to stun all the time. In theatre, she starred in Jenny Kandenge’s Ominous, The Nuthouse by Lloyd Winini, For Colored Girls written by Ntozake Shange and directed by Jenny Kandenge and Three Sisters by Bret Kamwi, including various UNAM productions. In film, Masters guest-starred in Untiled: The Web Series and most recently she featured in Lloyd Winini’s thrilling short film, Sacred Place.

Masters was born and raised in Zimbabwe and came to Namibia in 2014 for tertiary education, enrolled into university at the age of 16 and majored in Media Studies and Drama at the University of Namibia (UNAM).

Before acting, Masters was mostly into modelling and competed in a few pageants after being scouted at the age of 11. As modelling was not her biggest passion and she focused on acting.

Apart from showbiz, Masters has an interest in sports. She was selected to be in the Zimbabwe Juniors Volleyball team however, she left Zimbabwe before she got a chance to represent the country in any competitions.

Namib Insider! talks to Masters on her acting career.

When did you fall in love with acting?
I don’t believe there is a specific time when I fell in love with it. I have always been passionate about acting and I was in the drama and theatre clubs in primary school and high school, however, studying drama in university did intensify my love for acting because I got to know all the ins and outs of acting and I realized there was more to acting than what people think.

Which do you like more, film acting or stage acting?
This is a difficult one because I love both. The reason I say this is because both forms of acting have elements that I prefer and elements that are challenging. When it comes to characterization, I would say I prefer stage acting more because with stage acting, once you are on stage, you are that character from the time you start your performance to the time the curtain closes, whereas with film acting, its easy to break character because of the many cuts, takes and breaks. However, this can also be an advantage because if you forget your line, you have a chance to redo it, whereas, with stage acting, there are no do-overs, you have one shot to impress and captivate the audience. Either way, I get to do what I love and I get to bring a script and character to life and that is more than enough for me.

As a young female actor yourself, what would you say is the biggest illusion you would shatter for young female actors starting today, especially in the local industry?
A lot of people starting or those who aren’t really in the industry think it’s easy to get jobs, when in fact it’s not. So, no matter how good you think you are, it’s not easy to get a gig, especially in Namibia where the industry is small, you will always compete with someone, it could be a veteran actor or a newbie who has something directors haven’t seen before. So never relax and think that you are automatically guaranteed a job because you think you are great, you constantly have to work hard to prove yourself. Also, in this industry, everyone is replaceable, so always give all you got to every gig you get.

I have seen you in three productions, Ominous, For Coloured Girls, Three Sisters and now most recently in Lloyd’s Sacred Places and I loved all those performances. How do you prepare for a role, do you have any pre-performance rituals or are you just that good?
Thank you! Well, when it comes to preparing for a role, I put my all into it. So, the preparation itself is a whole process. First of all, I have to study the character that I am portraying, which means coming up with a back story for the character (if one is not given), analyzing the 5 levels of characterisation, studying the script to figure out my character’s motivation for each scene and then studying the feelings of my character in each scene as this also helps in remembering my lines. Before each performance, I always make sure to meditate to get into the right headspace and to become my character and then I say a quick prayer.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
That understanding your character is key to you nailing your performance. You need to know your character as you know yourself. If you dig deep into your character, you can portray things that are not written in the script because a director can not do everything for you. You have to do the work as an actor and meet your director halfway. Don’t let the director do all the work for you because you will not enjoy the process.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
­For me, understanding the character is quite challenging, because the way you portray a character determines whether or not the audience understands what you were trying to put across, as characters are easily misinterpreted.

What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
Crying on cue. This is my weakest point, especially when it comes to film acting due to the several takes and cuts. I am however learning to be more vulnerable and using some of the pain that I, as Diana have felt to tap more into that emotional side.

Who are your current Influences?
Danai Gurira, a Zimbabwean woman who, not only managed to make a name for herself in Hollywood but also represents Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. Her role in Black Panther is truly inspiring and proves that hard work pays indeed as one can also accomplish amazing things.

What was the one movie you saw that made you want to go into acting?
As crazy as it may seem, it has to be High School Musical. After I watched the first High School Musical movie, I was convinced I could nail the character of Sharpay Evans because she was the mean girl, which I never was in high school, so I wanted to play the mean girl, just to see how it would feel.

What part of acting do you geek out about the most?
The performance, there is just something exciting about bringing a character and a script to life and the reactions from the audience.

What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week?
Theresa Mendoza from Queen of the South. I have always wanted to play this intense, kick-ass role of a powerful female who doesn’t take s**t from anyone. And also, the idea of playing a female drug lord excites me.

If you were given a PhD degree but had no more knowledge of the subject of the degree besides what you have now, what degree would you want to be given to you?
PhD in Theatre and Dramatic Arts, mostly because of my passion for everything Drama and Theatre related, and also because it would be fun to see people reacting to the fact that I have a PhD in Drama. Besides, if someone was to question me on drama and theatre-related topics, I would be able to answer them since I studied Drama at university.

(Images: Provided)

Lockdown Missive: Odile Gertze

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have former Miss Namibia 2010, Odile Getze, an established dancer, actress and model who burst onto the acting scene in 2013 with Renier de Bruyn’s experimental film Gutter Culture (2013). Since then Odile portrayed various film roles including lead in Marinda Stein’s Coming Home (2014) and Florian Schott’s Katutura (2015), the latter of which garnered a Best Actress award at the 2017 Namibian Theatre & Film awards. She is equally at home on stage and has tread the planks in productions like The Girls and their Sunday Dresses (2017) directed by Vickson Hangula, Ndakalako Shilongo’s Thinning Lines (2018) and Donald Matthys’ Battered (2019), the latter for which she was nominated Best Actress in Theatre at the 2019 Namibian Theatre and Film Awards. Also, in 2019 she was the lead in the short film Encore (2019), directed by Senga Brockerhoff. A true performer, Odile believes that empathy is at the core of every great performance. When she is not on stage or in front of the camera, she is behind the scenes as a producer and Brand Ambassador for Gondwana Collection Namibia and a Radio Presenter on Radiowave. (You can catch her every Friday Morning for the Local Focus) She has also expanded her platform to include Performance Director at the 2019 Namibian Annual Music Awards.

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Odile Gertze (MUA: Jay-Aeron & Image: Zina Namibia)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I was shocked. Fear of the unknown slowly crept into my thoughts as our daily schedules were brought to a complete standstill. It has been a challenging experience. And with my involvement in both the tourism and entertainment industries, this pandemic has certainly been a shock to the system. Now is when we need to join forces and support each other. Support the Arts. Support our Tourism Sector. Support each other!

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

As mentioned, fear of the unknown. We can prepare ourselves, but only to a certain extent. The lack of social securities for our Namibian Artists has also been a concern for me. However, I am glad to see that there is still positive activity amongst our artists online. This has pushed us out of our certain comfort zones to embrace the change this lockdown brings and teaches us how to adapt more efficiently to the ever-changing world.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

There has certainly been more than enough time to catch up on sleep, admin, personal projects, reading, meditating and exercising. I am fortunate enough to have my ‘lockdown schedule’ which includes my work for Gondwana Collection Namibia and also a few writing challenges.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

Prayer, Meditation, Reading and Exercise. I keep a schedule during the week to maintain some sort of normalcy in my day.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

Divert your attention to online platforms of artists. Our Namibian artists have been keeping themselves very busy with live shows, insta live discussions and personal interactive posts to keep us entertained (and sane) during this lockdown. Follow, Share, Support!

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider! readers?

I’m still on the Netflix and Ted Talk bandwagon. However, Namibian films are available online. Also, check out Phillippe Talavera’s Salute! (2018) on YouTube.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

Getting back to Traveling our country with Gondwana Collection Namibia and watching Lize Ehlers stage production, Boet en Sus!

Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

This is clearly Mumble from Happy Feet and he is here to dance with me. He asks me to teach him the #soulstylechallenge hahaha hahaha! Obviously!

Lockdown Missive: Zikii

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have singer-songwriter Zikii, who has also written songs for a couple of Namibian movies. Zikii released her debut album in November last year and she currently serves as the 2020 ambassador of Song Night. Zikii is also a radio presenter and member of Collective Singers- a group of singers who mainly share their talent in aid of the less fortunate.

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Zikii (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I got an instant rush of mixed emotions. I got worried about the projects I have planned for this year as a Solo Artist. And also, the first Song Night for 2020 was basically scheduled to take place in March and the thought of it being cancelled was just terrible because I have always looked forward to being a part of Song Night. As the 2020 Song Night Brand Ambassador, my year was literally marked to officially kick off with the first Song Night of the year, however; everything had to come to a standstill as the lockdown became our reality as Namibians. (Update: This Song Night event will be live on Song Night’s Facebook page.)

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

There are a whole lot of things that really bother me e.g. cancelled performances, cancelled trips etc. however, the one thing that bums me out the most about the state this pandemic has us in, not just as Namibians alone, but as the world at large, is that with all the deaths, pain, sacrifices and social distancing, some people still find room for racism which is so sad and wrong on so many levels. Life in general calls for unconditional humanity and solidarity, now more than ever.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

Well… As for me, it’s a tiny bit different due to the fact that I work for a Media House (Energy 100 FM) and therefore fell under the Essential Services. We are, however, on a rotational lockdown and on my off days, I’m either writing a song, rehearsing, reading or busy with some tailoring.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

God! I start and end off each day with a prayer; spend time in His presence through reading the word and listening to a whole lot of Gospel and uplifting songs. Before the lockdown started, I was so caught up in my Job, rehearsals, performances, recordings, travelling and side hustles which didn’t leave a lot of time for family and friends. So, I’ve been making the most of my days off by just living in the moment and appreciating the time I have with the people I love. Singing and writing also takes my mind off what’s going on around me and always leaves me feeling lighter.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

I would urge people to really support every artist out there going out of their way to still keep you entertained through Live Streams regardless of our current situation. Also, it would be really nice if our Radio Presenters from their respective Radio Stations focus a whole lot more on Namibian Artists too(Art in all forms).

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider! readers?

I would recommend The All Americans, Black Mirror and one very special book- The Bible.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on stage, getting started on my planned projects, seeing my relatives and friends, being able to give hugs again and travelling.

Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

He says “Ola Zikiiiiiiiiiiiii, ola mi Amor!” (followed by kisses on the cheek)
“I’ve got a five-course meal delivery for you, yummy in your tummy.” (Yes, because I love my food lol)

Lockdown Missive: Jenny Kandenge

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have writer, director and producer Jenny Kandenge. She is the author of Trauma, and co-creator of web series, Untitled.  Kandenge also Directed Two Sides, a short film produced in South Africa and The Game (working title) which is currently in preproduction. Being a theatremaker too, Kandenge has written and directed numerous theatre productions including Ominous (2016), for which she won Best Original Script: Theatre at the Namibia Theatre and Film Awards, Daddy’s Girls (2018) Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls (2019). Kandenge also holds various nominations for her theatre work.

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Jenny Kandenge (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I was terrified because I had a feeling that life was about to change forever. I keep saying that there’s no way to go back to the way we lived before Covid-19. Before they announced the lockdown, I made plans to travel home. I had a feeling that a lockdown was coming, I figured it would be better at home with family during the lockdown than by myself.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

How artists have lost out on a lot of gigs, thankfully most of them have been postponed instead of cancelled but it breaks my heart when I think about how much this has affected our industry. We were really never prepared for this.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

I’ve been writing like crazy, literally been writing every day even if it’s just one sentence. I’ve been reading a lot as well, I’ve just been trying to work on ways to improve and develop my writing skills. I’ve also been taking part in free masterclasses and online classes.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

I’ve been exercising, doing mostly jumping rope and yoga. Doing meditations and listing at least four things that I am thankful for, a little gratitude goes a long way. I have also been dancing as much as I can with the kids. Reading helps and keeping in touch with my close friends. But I am also learning that it’s okay not to be okay but just not to get stuck in a dark place but to feel the emotions and let them pass through.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

Participate in an online art class, many artists are taking their skills online, since many conferences and workshops are being put on hold and in-person events have been cancelled, so classes are moving online. If you are financially able, consider donating the money that you would have spent on tickets to live performances or exhibition tickets to artist organizations, arts nonprofits, and artists instead. If you can’t donate then share the work of your favourite artists, it can boost their social following and, in turn, hopefully, sales. All people during this difficult time could use a little extra emotional support. Send the artist in your life a text, pick up the phone, or send a card or care package. Now more than ever we need to increase our social bonds and let people know that we appreciate the work they do. Being an artist in a normal economy can be a financial struggle, being an artist can be downright stressful.

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider! readers?

Check out FreeBooks.net it is my favourite site to get free E-books, reading might not be for everyone but it helps. Also reality shows, Love is Blind and Too Hot To Handle which are both on Netflix are pretty good. Check out Yoga with Adriene on YouTube which is totally free. For theatremakers, there is GhostLight, a site that provides a virtual space for online theatre courses, education, and mentoring. There are free online classes for theatre ranging from directing to acting that you can sign up for if you want to develop your skills. Also, for the filmmakers, the MultiChoice Talent Factory is offering a free masterclass Produce like a Pro, join in.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

Being around creatives. I am excited to see what artists have been up to because the world will need art after this.

Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

Penguin: Got any Tequila?

Lockdown Missive: Jason Kooper

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have Jason Kooper, who is a Television Production graduate from the College of the Arts, specializing in Scriptwriting and Directing. Kooper worked on Oshoveli Shipoh’s award-winning feature film Hairareb (2019) as a Production Designer/Wardrobe Supervisor and Props master. He is also a playwright and Theatre Director, having staged his play The Encounter(2017) through the National Theatre of Namibia’s Theatre Zone program.

 

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Jason Kooper (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I was mad that Lize Ehler’s musical, Boet en Sus got postponed. I was looking forward to it.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

The fact that all art and entertainment projects have been either postponed or cancelled. It’s hard enough being an artist but do not have any income during this period is saddening. There are artists that can’t pay their bills and we don’t know when this pandemic will actually end.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

I’ve been reading a lot lately, there are books I’ve been telling myself I’ll get to once I have free time. I’ve also been binge-watching some shows on Netflix such as Queen Sono and Shadows, they’re brilliant South African shows.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

Social media has become a necessity during this time. I’ve had friends that have been keeping me entertained and occupied. It’s really good to keep in contact with those you love and meeting new people. I’ve been chatting with Nigerians I met through a friend and communicating with them became my daily routine.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

That’s a tough question. I think the best way is to buy whatever artists are selling. To follow and promote the brands of artists on social media and to check in on your artist friends, they need assurance that they matter during these trying times.

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

Netflix has been keeping me busy, I would recommend watching Queen Sono and Shadows. I’ve been reading ‘Sailing Back to my Home’ by Ndatyoonawa Tshilunga, it’s a tiny pocketbook where the author recounts some of her personal experiences which helped build her character.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

Seeing Boet en Sus and going clubbing or being at a bar and conversing with random strangers, I miss that a lot.

Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

He looks really angry and declares he’s here to kill me and I laugh because imagine a penguin killing a human being.

Lockdown Missive: Adriano Visagie

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have Adriano Visagie, who recently scooped an international award at the Sotigui awards in Burkina Faso for Best Male Actor: Southern Africa for his performance in Philippe Talavera’s Salute! (2018).  Visagie is also a holder of the Best Male Actor In Theatre award from the Namibia Theatre and Film Awards. He also earned a Best Supporting Actor Nominee from his performance in Donald Matthys’ Battered (2019). Visagie stares in the soon to be released film Kapana (2020) by Talavera and has featured in numerous plays including Lize Ehler’s upcoming play Boet & Sus. Dabbling in presenting, Visagie has been the presenter for various entertainment events and is also the official 2020 RMB Song Night host.

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Adriano Visagie (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I panicked at first – I don’t think I took to heart what the impact was going to be prior to lockdown as I just finished shooting my third film and started rehearsing for Boet & Sus. But after much reading and attention, I immediately took the necessary precautions.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

The roller-coaster of emotions we are all going through daily, not having certainty about anything except to live daily and take care. I’ve been more focused on daily affirmations and mantras regarding what’s important and not, but I do miss being creative in spaces like the stage or behind the camera.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

I form part of Namibia’s essential services as a banker, so I do work from office at times and then at home. I’ve collaborated with Monochrome Magazine on a new series of #LivewithAdriano as we engage local personalities . I’m reading my script and books I never got a chance to read, but loving the time with my family.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

I exercise daily. This has become part of my daily schedule. I’ve also dedicated the time to planting and polishing my Portuguese. I finally finished my vision board as well and working on editing videos for my YouTube channel.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

I believe during this time a lot of artists have their gigs cancelled/postponed until further notice, thus putting on a lot of flow of income. My proposal for support would be for corporates to engage artists in spreading a positive message about around safety around Covid-19 and give them an incentive. Corporations that don’t have social platforms should engage graphic designers/web designers and corporations can meet artists halfway through engaging their arts and crafts, etc. Engage with artists on their social platforms, purchase their content.

During lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

I’ve read both Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ series’. The second series is all about hope. I advise this read because during this time we do feel hopeless and it really speaks about purpose and serves as a guide to what you should really care about. I have also been reading ‘No Ashes In The Fire’ by Darnell L. Moore. Through this upbringing, he explores the life of a queer black man and his hurdles through poverty and struggling to be accepted in a generation that bullied him. I have been listening to Lize Ehlers’s album – ‘Lize Live’. Seldom one finds Namibian albums that speak to the heart or get you in the space of asking ‘What was the artist going through?’ and she has allowed herself to be vulnerable in this album. My brand celebrates vulnerability and sees that as strength.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

Being able to go to church, being on stage and hugging people. Trust me online church is not the same as being in a space of fellowship with my Koi Family.

Lastly, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

Some cool penguin in a deep Mexican accent: Hey, I’m here to make you some Tacos.

Lockdown Missive: Tove Kangotue

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have Tove Kangotue, who is a seasoned performer, having acted in the Namibian theatre industry for over four years. Kangotue starred in plays including Glen-Nora Tjipura’s The First Year (2016), Jason Kooper’s (2016) The Encounter and the children’s theatre production, Tselane and the Giants (2019) by Veronique Mensah. Also being a model, Kangotue featured in various campaigns and commercials. His modelling career has seen him work with household Namibian brands such as Ingo Shanyenge Synergy, Windhoek Fashion Week & Am photography. He earned a nomination for Favourite Male Model 2017 at Simply You Lifestyle and Fashion Awards.

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Tove Kangotue (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

Honestly, at first, I wasn’t well versed on the freedoms we would loose due to the lockdown, but eventually, it started to sink in that a lot of gigs and events that had the potential to be profitable, would not be taking place.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

What bums me out, first of all, is the fact that there are artists who cannot get their daily bread because their usual platforms of income such as the galleries, theatres, etc. are closed due to the lockdown, and that our government is not doing much to help us. Secondly, the loss of basic freedoms is also a bummer, like taking a walk without looking over your shoulder.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

I’ve been reading a lot of African literature recently as well as a couple of theatre/film scripts here and there. Oh, and YouTube has also been a great companion and research buddy, in the sense that they have a lot of information on the fields of acting, modelling, literature and art in general.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these trying times?

I am fortunate enough to not be alone during the lockdown, so my homemade family ‘telenovela’ keeps me entertained, lol. Reading also has a calming effect on me most of the time, nothing like a good book with a great storyline to distract you from your reality and comedy content also keeps me positive, be it on social media or on TV.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

Well, this is the time to support the online content that artists are putting out there or that they have posted on their pages. Watching, liking, commenting (giving feedback) as well as sharing and downloading. This might seem like nothing but after the lockdown, this will have increased the fan/consumer base of each artist and that is where their income will come from.

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

I am really obsessed with live music/studio versions of our popular African songs, it’s more personal and speaks more to our current state. There is also this YouTube channel called ‘Skin Deep’ check it out, it’s about human relations. Namibian/African Youtubers are highly recommended too, relatable content.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

What I am looking forward to is a kapana session and general chill session, as well as a haircut. But on a serious note, I just miss human interaction, especially with friends and getting back to the hustle and buzz of Windhoek City.

Lastly, since being silly once in a while doesn’t hurt, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

“Ola Senyor, I am giving away ice-cold drinks. you get a drink, you get a drink you all get an ice-cold drink.”

Dance Talk With Nikhita Winkler

The very ambitious and passionate social entrepreneur, dancer and choreographer, Nikhita Winkler, is unarguably one of Namibia’s top dance guru’s having choreographed numerous theatre projects including, Every Woman (2019) by Senga Brockerhof and Ntozake Shange’s For Coloured Girls directed by Jenny Kandenge.

Winkler, who is of German, Arabic, Sotho and Baster ethnicity, is the owner of the Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre & Project and has worked on various dance projects both internationally and in Namibia, including the Windhoek International Dance Festival (2017 & 2018) and Kabawil cultural exchange program in Germany in 2019.

Her longest-standing project has been one which started in 2017 with a Dutch funding organization called ‘Orange Babies Foundation’. The project, which is under her dance project and recently funded by GIZ, is based in Otjomuise and teaches dance to vulnerable children who are mainly in primary school. The project helps empower the children towards a healthier, more conscious, and connected way of life while creating a safe space in which they can develop a sense of identity and an avenue to build their dreams.

Winkler is educated in Namibia, Norway and USA and currently hold an honours degree in dance performance from Skidmore College, USA. Namib Insider! sat down with Winkler to talk about her craft.

Nikhita Winkler at Kolmannskuppe
Nikhita Winkler at Kolmanskop (Image: Kark Leck)

Let’s go back to genesis, how and when did you fall in love with dance?

I think, before I fell in love with dance, I fell in love with music. My family tells me that I could never dance but I was not afraid to express myself, especially when the music moved me. I was unstoppable and shameless. My training started when I was 5 years old and that was when I fell in love with Ballet.

You are a dancer and a dance instructor. How does teaching dance differ from being a dancer yourself?

Being a teacher and being a dancer is very different, and I am glad you asked.
Maya Angelou says, “I am not a writer who teaches, but a teacher who writes.” A teacher needs to have the skills for teaching which are; sufficient knowledge and experience of the art to understand its development on various bodies and have confidence in that knowledge; direction and measurable goals; patience; observational skills; leadership skills; and a love for teaching. To be a teacher is special. Teachers carry a huge responsibility. They are supposed to be role models to their students. A bad teacher can destroy the love of dance and the creativity of the student, and a good teacher can inspire, empower and support students as they learn and grow into the individuals (or dancers) we want them to become.

Although both the teacher and the dancer are learning from each other in a healthy exchange, the dancer is the subject in focus. The dancer is trained to master his/her body to create and perform movement derived either from source energy or an external direction, such as the teacher/ choreographer. The responsibility of the dancer is to develop the strength, flexibility and agility required to confidently perform the work of art.

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(Image: Rob Tucker)

You choreograph dancers from various ages, what is the difference between teaching dance to children and doing choreography for older, more experienced dancers?

When you work with children, you have to become a child again. You have to enter their world and understand what stimulates them to want to learn and what keeps them engaged (things like colours, costumes, and stories). Children don’t have the attention span of adults or trained dancers. They lose interest fast, and they are sensitive to how you speak to them, not to say that adults aren’t, but words can be more impactful for children. Therefore, positive reinforcement is important when you work with kids to encourage them to continue working hard. Oh, and they love playtime.

Older, more experienced students are easier to direct and instruct. Most often they understand why they are there and they need something more constructive and measurable to work on. Trained dancers should be able to execute your vision and assist you in the process of developing it. It is easier to assign tasks to older, more experienced dancers, but the older the dancer, the more difficult it becomes to draw creativity and authentic movement from them. A child’s creativity is pure.

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Nikhita Winkler teaching at her dance academy (Image: Tim Heubscle)

Which do you like best?

I prefer to work with older, more experienced dancers because I don’t really have the personality to work with children. I don’t think I have spent enough time being a child myself and I am way too serious about technique and discipline that I tend to bore kids with repetitions.

When choreographing a piece how do you approach the creation process?

This is how my creative process looks like in a summarized version: My process involves a lot of improvisation to find movement. I often create by chance and definitely in the moment. While I am still building the movement vocabulary, some days require a constant change in music, especially when the music and my energy that day are not connecting. In this case, playing one song limits me from finding new ways to move or stagnates the process. Other days, the music is good enough to take me through from the beginning to the end. When this happens, the music and my energy are connected.

Inspiration can come from anything and at any time; a theme, a song, a picture, a conversation, an interesting object, relationships, stories, literally anything. Being creative means creating something from nothing. Isn’t that beautiful? When I was in college, my most productive time to create was when walking from my student house to the dance department, a 10min walk. It is in the moments that I am silent that my mind starts to do all the work and I just have to observe and remember. I work with a lot of faith. I believe my creative process has a special ingredient called, ‘magic’. This special ingredient is added to the process when you are stuck and you give the work a breathing chance.

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(Image: Alex Ross)

Do you have any pre-performance/choreography superstitions or rituals?

I do!
Rituals are important to me because my relationship with dance is spiritual.
It’s important for me to feel ready with the work before I perform it so that it is performed in ‘no mind’. In order to get to ‘no mind’, one needs to rehearse so much that you don’t need your mind when you are on stage. You can allow your spirit to take control of your body while trusting that the body has retained the muscle memory of the work. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, I have to admit, it takes discipline to get this ready for every performance. I have only been this ready a few times in my life for various reasons.

I pray before every performance and if it’s a group performance we pray together. Thereafter, I pass on this energy ball. Warming up before a performance is crucial. I focus on core strength warmups because a strong core keeps you balanced, makes you lighter and more confident. I have to get a feel for the stage and the room I am performing in prior to the performance to fill it with positive energy and leave my guardian angles where the audience will be seated. On the day of the performance, I want to do nothing else but get ready for the stage. I don’t like to have any other responsibilities other than what is required for me to fully embody and prepare for the performance. Neither do I like close contact with anyone before I go on stage to protect my energy.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a choreographer?

Overcoming the belief that I am a bad choreographer. I am never satisfied with my work and I know why that is. I am a perfectionist but also a procrastinator. I find that too little research and planning goes into the work that I create and research is an important part of the process, especially with big projects. Spending more time studying what I do and why I do it has become a very important focus on the work I will be creating.

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Nikhita Winkler and dance partner, West Uarije (Image: Tim Heubscle)

What qualities do you look for in a dancer?

Passion.
Martha Graham says, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” I also like hardworking dancers, because hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.

You have choreographed for numerous pieces. How do you decide to be part of a piece? What are you looking at before joining a production as choreographer and I suppose as a dancer?

Association is very important for me. I will not work with someone whom I do not want to be associated with. Good leadership and professionalism are key. I find it hard to work under poor leadership because it frustrates me and I don’t gain anything from it. I won’t work with people who don’t have respect for my art. However, I love a challenge because with that comes experience. Projects that are new and challenging are exciting to be a part of. If I see a challenge, I grab it.

In terms of music, what style of music do you like more and more likely to be part of?

Local is lekker. I believe in building products of our own. Made by Namibians.
I have a policy in my dance school to prioritize local music in all our performances because, in that, we can build more collaborative work and support the growth of our arts, culture and entertainment industries.

But personally, I prefer nothing that is trendy. I listen to music that feeds my spirit such as; Sade, Bon Iver, Rhye, Hishishi Papa, Fkj & Classicals from around the world.

Who are some of your dance influences?

Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Bill T Jones, Twyla Tharp and Isadora Duncan are some of the pioneers whose works I have studied and who have inspired me. As for more recent influencers, there is Galen Hooks & Yanis Marshall.

What inspired you to start your own dance academy?

It was a childhood dream. Something to give to my country.

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(Image: Alex Ross)

What is a common misconception people have about dancing, especially pertaining to the dance scene in Namibia?

That there is no or little work. As much as I know, dance has been keeping me on my toes because there is a lot of work, but we have to create the platforms and not wait for someone to do it.

I know the world is faced with the Covid-19 pandemic that might possibly stall creative activities for who knows how long, but do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?

I just finished a 21-day stretch challenge which was live on our Instagram page. As from the 27th April, we will be having live sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Other than that, there are some big projects pending, but unfortunately, I cannot speak about them right now.

Lastly, when you are not dancing or teaching dance, what do you do?

I love to be outdoors, hiking, eating out at my favourite spots, colouring in mandalas, training (boxing or working out), spending silent time with myself, reading and writing.

Lockdown Missive: Lize Ehlers

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today we have Lize Ehlers, Founder & Director of RMB Song Night, acclaimed Musical Theatre Director for musicals Sandy Rudd’s I am John (2018), Senga Brockerhoff’s Every Woman (2019) & Jenny Kandenge’s For Coloured Girls (2019). Ehlers, an award-winning musician, is the 2019 Namibian Annual Music Awards Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year & Best House Song winner and this year, she is also a nominee for Artist of the Decade. She is a blue-economist that works in various fields of the Namibian creative industry, including acting.

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Lize Ehlers (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I immediately thought of my artists that are booked weekly at Avani & Maerua Mall and how this will devastate their income. I then started panicking about my own income and how it will affect my family. Subsequently, all of us have been stripped of our income due to Covid-19.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

The fact that there is no social security for artists in Namibia and that we live from gig to gig.  I have completely depleted my private savings and have started to ask for donations for my weekly live online stream shows that take place Monday to Friday from 19:30 till 20:00 on Facebook @lizeehlers. I see it as a passion project and I am providing creative relief during this pandemic. If people liked a show and they feel they want to donate, they are free to do so.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

I have been reflecting on how much I have had to work to stay alive. I have realized that without an active role on stage or as an agent getting work for my RMB Song Night- & independent singers I have no livelihood. I have also been writing proposals to get RMB Song Night online and have reached out to various entities to make online productions a reality with financial benefits. I used to call myself a ‘digital dinosaur’, but this pandemic has been the steepest learning curve of my life.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these trying times?

I have been praying daily and meditating, for myself and for others. I have been working on my music daily for my live online show on Facebook every weeknight at 19:30 till 20:00. This includes rehearsing all my 6 albums, singles, writing new songs and using this state of mind as inspiration for new material. My colleague & friend Tulimela Shityuwete was inspired by my house song Soul Style to create a #soulstylechallenge and together with dancer Odile Gertze, they choreographed the challenge. It premiered Wednesday 22 April on Facebook. Every Namibian is asked to join the challenge and do the moves. It is to encourage inclusion, it talks about how we all are going through this pandemic together and how we can celebrate being Namibian.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

I think the only tangible support would be for people who are able to donate encourage artists to do online painting sessions, live dance classes, live performances, and then the viewers can enjoy, interact in realtime and donate to say thank you afterwards.  Artists should not be shy to make donation posters with their details on, because, at the end of the day, we are still providing a service, we are still offering something emotional and beautiful and not just asking for handouts.

During the lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

I have discovered ‘A Colours Show’ on YouTube and I am obsessed.
My favourite artist at the moment on the show is Mayra Andrade. Song Nighter Shiruka introduced me to her music in 2019. But this show performance is so passionate and with the times. I would love to see an African or Namibian version of ‘A Colors Show’. Then I have been binging on Jane The Virgin on Netflix – it is so great! It talks fundamentally about family & honour and it reminds me so much of my family and it gives me inspiration and many laughs during this uncertain time.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

I am looking forward to an auditorium full of people and singing my heart out with my band and all the right digital support for a live broadcast to those who cannot physically attend the shows. This will be our only way forward. I also cannot wait for Boet & Sus to actually happen at the National Theatre of Namibia.

Lastly, since being silly once in a while doesn’t hurt, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

He says: “Ola – Lize, got any nice lyrics for my new climate change song?” and we both start laughing and then we have tequila and start crying, because like Cardi B said: “Sh*t is getting real!”

Lockdown Missive: Joalette de Villiers

These past few weeks sombre news has been on loop on the internet. For this reason, Namib Insider! is keeping up with our friends in the stage and screen industry through a series of Q&A’s titled ‘Lockdown Missive’, inspired by the guys at Pocket Size Theatre. During this series, we will feature various performers and creators as they share their quarantine experiences and at the same time, bring a little more light on the internet.

Today, we have Joalette de Villiers, actress and drama/special education teacher. Joalette starred in Desiree Kahikopo’s The White Line (2019), Tim Heubschle’s #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (2019), including various stage productions like Kubbe Rispel’s Deur Die Tralies Van My Hok (2017), Nelago Shilongoh’s Broken Butterflies (2012) and her The Story of Red. De Villiers won Best Actress at the 2012 Namibia Theatre and Film Awards for her performance in The Story of Red. She also directed The Zoo Story (2011) by Edward Elbee and The Maids (2012) by Jean Genet, which got a nomination for Best Newcomer Director.

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Joalette de Villiers (Image: Provided)

When the first lockdown was announced in March, what was your initial reaction?

I was quite excited. It felt so surreal, like it was an Apocalyptic movie or something. I must confess I did panic buy at first (but not toilet paper), and I was chosen as the tribune in my family, to do all the driving and grocery runs. But now, I’m way chilled. I buy like a sane person now.

What really bums you out about the current state of events?

Well, I am an extrovert and I need to see people and have interaction, so that part has been tough, and I did allow myself to be sad about it. I would just call a friend and just to hear a different voice, apart from the ones in my head, felt much better.

Productivity wise, what have you been up to?

My phone, Zoom and Skype accounts have been thoroughly abused, but as of now, I am coping well with productivity. Necessity is the Mother of all invention, so I found ways to keep myself occupied. (Crochet, learning to play my guitar, doing most of the cooking and laughing my ass off at peoples TikTok videos. We really have very creative people here in Namibia! But If I don’t feel like being productive, I chill: Sleep, eat and watch TV.

It’s probably hard but how have you been trying to keep a positive mental attitude during these times?

Laughter has been a good coping method for me, and obviously a big deal of imagination. So, I really make up the most ridiculous funny stories/scenarios in my head (a lot of daydreaming). And keeping busy, even with the most mundane of tasks, but the thing is, if you really feel that you are having a bad day mentally, have it. Be sad, be angry, be annoyed. There is absolutely no use in forcing your mind to be positive the whole time. These are extraordinary unusual circumstances. Just be free to feel what you need to feel. We really are in this together. So, in my own version, to quote William Wallace from Braveheart (1995): “They might take my freedom, but they will never take my sense of humor.

With the arts temporarily shut down, how would you advise people to continue to support the arts industry?

Well, as far as I know, there is not a lot that we can do. Tim Heubschle has created a platform on Facebook called Lockdown Cinema Namibia, where we can watch Namibian movies, support that. Go to your artists social media pages and support what they are putting out there. Give a kind word of encouragement, that always helps. For the rest of the artist, put your work on social media, use this time to get your creative juices flowing, that when this thing blows over, and it will, you can come out with a bang. And everyone else needs to support them by going to every show, exhibition, performance, etc.! Just go support wherever you can. P.S: Anyone can DM me if they need food, I will gladly assist where I can.

During lockdown, have you discovered anything that you’d like to recommend to Namib Insider!’ readers?

Watch TikTok videos, they are hilarious! Take up meditation, it really helps to calm the soul. I started watching Sex and the City reruns (Yes, I’ve never watched it before), that’s quite a laugh. And I downloaded myself a Texas Holdem Poker app and a Word Search app. That’s very nice to keep you busy.  Movies I can recommend is the Elton John biopic Rocketman (2019) and the Ted Bundy movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) and if you haven’t watched HBO’s 5-part series Chernobyl, watch it! It’s absolutely brilliant. I’m not reading any books now, except my Bible, it gives me peace and guidance.

Looking to the future, what are you looking forward to most when all of this is over?

That’s a no brainer. A drink at the Brewers Market and seeing my friends. And seeing my kids at Integrate Sensory Centre. The saddest part of this all is the kids that don’t always understand why they can’t see their friends and teachers. And as a part-time teacher, I miss my kids and colleagues!

Lastly, since being silly once in a while doesn’t hurt, a penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

Penguin: (Singing) Coroooona…..Corooooona…. (sways lightly, while taking a sip from his Corona beer. Starts looking around) This isn’t where I parked my car. (hick-ups, backing out).

Me: (In the voice of Rose from Titanic) Come back, Come back….. Los net vir my die bier!!!! (Sobs silently).

Performance Artists Talk COVID-19 Impact

Namibia’s gig-based entertainment industry is one of the most hard-hit industries by the Covid-19 pandemic which currently has the country on lockdown. As per government regulation, no public gatherings are allowed and in the local entertainment industry, no public gathering means no income.

With events, performances and art installations cancelled or postponed, actors, make-up artists, filmmakers, theatre-makers, musicians, musicians, technical personnel and many other creative industry players are left jobless with bleak prospects.

Impact of Covid-19 on the arts sector

The Namibian creative industry has already been operating under tight financial conditions and with the impact of Covid-19, the live events and entertainment sector is most likely going to take longer to recover as social distancing restrictions are expected to keep people from going to the theatre or attend a concert for a long time- even with a flattened curve. As at now, there are no clear support measures in place to support the creative industry, especially from the side of the government.

“Because most of our income comes from large gatherings, creatives, artists, technicians and everyone forming part of our industry is feeling the pinch with most events been cancelled or postponed indefinitely,” says theatre practitioner, Zindri Swartz. “It’s ridiculous to state that our lives or the rent we have due are of no importance or lacks priority.”

Swartz says with the absence of a functional body or organization tasked with the protection of the rights of artists and with most artists having access to social security, artists cannot afford to take out loans on VAT, since they are barely able to sustain themselves.

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Zindri Swartz (Image: Provided)

“We are part of the informal sector and stand in solidarity with the marginalized and as such government should look into other effective solutions to aid this industry. We are tired of being treated like a stepchild by our own government but when it’s time for parades and celebrations, it is us they turn to. Perhaps we should in engage in a discussion on the way forward,” Swartz argues.

Adding to this, stage and screen make-up artist, Kulan Ganes says despite the whole world turning to the arts to keep sane during this time of uncertainty, artists continue being overlooked by the government and the private sector alike.

Ganes says the situation not only makes artists financially disabled but also has a huge toll on their mental health.

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Kulan Ganes (Image: Provided)

“The government should meet us halfway to find ways to provide for us without them losing out on an industry that actually contributes to the economy. Funding for postponed projects shouldn’t be withdrawn so that we can have work and an income when all this is over,” Ganes adds.

Actress and singer-songwriter Bianca Heyns says for most performers, like herself, creating is a career and not a mere leisure activity.

“Not only have I lost gigs but I personally have lost money and other opportunities that would have benefited me in future. For many of us creatives, we live by grabbing every opportunity we get, and now that gigs have been cancelled and moving forward I have found myself in a rather puzzling situation. My question is what is Namibia without the arts?” Heyns asks.

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Bianca Heyns (Image: Provided)

Using her voice and platform to an impact, Professional Speaker, Storyteller and Fitness Advocate Hermien Elago says since the lockdown, she has resorted to making a difference to an audience she cannot physically see or engage with, without the means of an income.

“The situation is testing my core values and my intentions about why I chose this profession to begin with. Plus, I no longer have an exact idea as to how far my stories will go, I do not know who they will touch and I have to trust my digital voice and the true value that I bring through the power of storytelling,” Elago says.

Feeling the pinch from cancelled gigs in the live music scene, Musician Shiruka says with music being her main source of income, she is left hopeless, especially since she is a non-Namibian.

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Shiruka (Image: Provided)

“I came to Namibia for studies and often I’d perform to pay for my studies. If it wasn’t for my talent, I don’t know how I would have some money to at least buy my groceries and basic goods,” Shiruka says.

Musician and filmmaker, Micheal Pulse, who also had the Namibian premiere of The White Line planned last month, says although he welcomes the stimulus package government has made available for the unemployed, it does not eliminate the problem that the art industry is one of the most neglected and under sourced sectors even though it is very impactful in informing and educating the masses in a very creative way.

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Micheal Pulse (Image: Provided)

“I think instead of payouts, there should be referendums and policies put in place that is there to uplift our creatives,” Pulse feels.

Celebrity make-up artist, Miss Jey Arts says no one was prepared for a pandemic, especially those in the entertainment and arts industry as there were numerous shows and appearances planned for the year.

“So many bookings and projects had to be put on hold. Maybe they might be totally cancelled. Unfortunately, there’s nothing one can do except hope that the aftermath will be much better,” Miss Jey says.

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Miss Jey Arts (Image: Provided)

Sadly in Namibia, Miss Jey adds, entertainment and arts is seen as a luxury instead and artists are therefore not considered as important.

“Most of us survive on payments after shows and we feed and support our children with the same payment, we pay rent, buy food and electricity with it. If only the government can put aside a package meant for the arts and entertainment industry, especially considering that it might take a good 5 to 6 months for events and shows to start taking place again,” Miss Jey explains.

In order for art to live, creatives are needed, and in order for creatives to live, they need to eat, says award-winning make-up artist Jay-Aeron.

“The one thing that keeps us together in the creative industry is intimacy. Intimacy with your make-up artist if you’re getting ready for a performance, intimacy with your scriptwriter/director if you’re a performer and intimacy with an audience, but none of that can happen with this pandemic,” Jay-Aeron adds.

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Jay-Aeron (Beanii Boy Photoworks)

Coping with Covid-19

Arts educator & writer Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja says social distancing as a safety measure has created a lot of isolation and segregation, although this is not what it intends to do.

“One main challenge right now is access to information is a huge challenge for many artists around the country who do not generally have a good internet connection,” Mushaandja says.

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Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja (Image: Julian Salinas)

However, Mushaandja adds Covid-19 has offered opportunities for the creative and cultural industries to claim their spaces in national discourse and care work.

“This moment provides an opportunity to use cultural work as a coping, survival and transformation mechanism,” Mushaandja adds.

On adapting to the current climate, Elago says she had to learn to make a difference to an audience that she cannot see in person and still to find a way “go out there” anyway.

“I know that this is what I am called to do. It is teaching me that if you are called for something you learn to adapt and adjust and still give the same value that I would have given had I been standing on a physical stage with an audience that I can actually see,” Elago says.

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Hermien Elago (Image: Provided)

Elago further adds that the public speaking fraternity has to learn that stages are not only physical platforms and that there is a need to learn how to go remote if the audience is suddenly forced to lockdown.

“The moral for me is we are being forced to adapt and adjust and understand that in this era, our stages take many forms,” she says.

‘Salute!’ & other Namibian Films You Can Watch Online For Free During Lockdown

Coronavirus lockdown has all of us feeling blue, some of us probably even realized being home all the time is not as fun as we’d imagined. Even despite having watched so many Hollywood/international movies/series during these few days, you still yearn for something different, something more ‘Namibian’- I know I do.

Since the spread of the Coronavirus to Namibia, local filmmakers have been making their films publicly available for free online viewing.

Here are some new and old Namibian films you can watch online while in hibernation:

“Salute!” (2018), dir. Philippe Talavera

“Baxu and The Giants” (2019), dir. Florian Schott

“Untitled – The Web Series” (2019), dir. Lavinia Kapewasha

You can watch the entire 10-episode first season of Untiled here.

“Another Sunny Day” (2017), dir. Tim Huebschle

“Sold Out” (2017), dir. Leon Mubiana

“Genesis” (2019), dir. Laimi Fillimon

“Careful” (2019), dir. Skrypt

“Tick-Tock” (2018), dir. Glen-Nora Tjipura and Ndakalako Shilongo

These are just some of the films I actually got around to watching/rewatched. To see the more, check out Lockdown Cinema Namibia on Facebook. Also, there’s a 10-minute short called Project: Black Love I read about in The Namibian and it is visually beautiful!

Stay home and be safe fellow cinephiles!

Insider’s Perspective: Can You Make Money From Filmmaking In Namibia?

With a population of just over 2.54 million and a relatively small film industry, the question regarding financial success seems pretty obvious. But let’s first look at some stuff.

The domestic film industry is slowly growing from strength to strength as there is an improvement in produced content, narratives as well as improved production quality and standards. New creative and innovative players penetrating the film market are also on the rise. However, the greatest challenge facing the Namibian film industry is the lack of consistent film funding and corporate/local investor buy-in. In fact, Namibian films, if not self-funded, are majorly funded by the Namibian Film Commission. Some (if not all) of these films have to source additional funding on top of the Commission’s funding to be completed.

In terms of distribution, unfortunately, Namibians don’t really seem to have a theatrical culture, except for when it comes to major Hollywood films. Major or big budget Namibian films do have theatrical runs for a very short time and are mostly attended by industry players, family, and a friend of a friend which in turn leads to straight-to-DVD releases. Local films can’t just play at the cinema every day for weeks on end because of the minimal financial resources and then there is the aspect of not having many cinemas spread across the rest of the country, meaning producers have to host screenings in different towns to actually afford Namibians to see their own films- which in turn comes at great financial costs and while the pace is slowly picking up, it has proven hard to convince corporate Namibia to fund local films. Most films, even those supported by the Film Commission barely make a profit because even when on DVD, not many people actually buy these DVDs.

So, can one make a living off making films in Namibia? Namib Insider! spoke to some of Namibia’s award-winning filmmakers on the possibilities. Here are their insights:

Tim Huebschle- Writer/Producer/Director (‘#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm’, ‘Looking For Iilonga’, ‘Another Sunny Day’,…)

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Huebschle on Filmmaking in Namibia…

Filmmaking is all about storytelling. It’s narrative medium and you make use of images, music, sounds and the plot to tell a story. It’s this that drew me into the field when I was 21 years old. Since then the journey has been all about learning to tell better stories within the constraints of the medium. Constraints were and are largely made up of access to funds, access to equipment, the size of the local market and my own capabilities as a storyteller. But – the underlying current that drives each and every project is the passion I have for the medium and the act of storytelling itself. I love being a filmmaker and wouldn’t want to be anything else.

Huebschle on Making Money from Film In Namibia…

You can make a living of making movies in Namibia. There are a couple of realities. First and foremost you have to ask yourself what you want from life. Is it a fancy car and a nice house with loads of financial security. If your answer is yes, then the film industry is probably not for you. Especially in Namibia where the market is not that big, you have to realize that you probably will not ever make that mortgage payment on time, so don’t even apply for that bank loan… But if you’re able to bring in your lifestyle costs at a relatively low level and you keep your monthly overheads to a minimum, then you will be able to sustain yourself. You have to learn to stretch your income to cover the periods where you are not making loads of commissioned projects. Speaking of commissioned projects, you have to start applying your creativity to corporate videos, image films and public service announcements. These kinds of projects will provide your regular income. Whereas they may not necessarily be your passion project like your feature film is, these commissioned films will keep you going and help you fulfil your dreams while you are busy honing your skills as a cinematic storyteller. So embrace them, make the best possible commissioned film you can and keep on making them.

Heubscle on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

Nowadays social media has provided us with platforms where you’re able to showcase your content to the world. Plus the rise of smartphones has made video cameras super accessible to most people. If you want to break into the film industry and get noticed, then use these two, the social media and the smartphone, to start telling your stories. Put them out there to the world, build and listen to your audience and improve your style with every video you make. To stay working within the film industry, firstly diversify your skills set. Don’t just insist on being a director or camera person. Learn more about other fields within filmmaking such as editing, sound recording, casting, make-up, etc. You will find that there are more projects you’re able to work on if you don’t limit yourself to just one stream. More projects mean more income. And above all, keep your costs of living low. That doesn’t mean you have to be poor, it just means you have to manage your expenditure well and don’t get used to too many monthly overheads.

Marinda Stein- Writer/Producer/Director (‘Coming Home’, ‘Women of Our World’,…)

Coming Home Screengrab
Screengrab from Marinda Stein’s 2014 film, ‘Coming Home’

Stein on Filmmaking in Namibia…

I think any career in the arts does present some challenges. This can be attributed to the idea that it isn’t necessarily viewed as being sustainable like the mainstream careers that we’re bombarded with at school when having to make a decision about our futures. As a filmmaker, it is no different. And certainly not as a filmmaker in Namibia. For me being a filmmaker (more specifically writer and director) is about capturing the essence of the human spirit. Through stories, we can create understanding, tolerance, acceptance, create a society that is emphatic – something we so desperately need in our country too. I have said on so many occasions that we may not be engineers or managing banks, etc., but as filmmakers, we carry a huge responsibility for the social fabric of our society and our industry makes a huge contribution to our country’s economy, so we count. We matter.

Stein on Making Money from Film In Namibia…

I have made my living being an independent filmmaker for the past 10 years. However, it wasn’t by making films only. With my background in TV and diverse skills set, I did and still do a lot of commercial work to ensure my sustainability. Making films require huge budgets and we don’t have those all the time. While the Namibia Film Commission has call-outs for project submissions on an annual basis, it’s not enough to support every single filmmaker who has a story that she/he would like to turn into a film. So being in our industry requires us to be innovative. I had to learn so much along the way and I made many mistakes too. Before I entered the film industry I thought of myself as just a creative/ an artist, but that has since changed vastly. I had to learn to understand what being an entrepreneur meant (because that was essentially what I became), how to make sound business decisions – all with longterm sustainability in mind. The same year that my short film Coming Home premiered and my women series Women of Our World was released, was also the most difficult financially. Today I am still a writer and director, but I’d also like to think that I am a job creator and in addition stepped into the administrative side of film to make my contribution towards creating an enabling environment for current and future filmmakers. When I attended FESPACO in 2015, I also realised that as a Namibian film industry we have been operating in a silo for the longest time. There was (still is) a world of film out there and we were not (are not yet) part of it. This is slowly changing since our Namibian films are travelling to film festivals and we have online platforms where we can share our work with audiences around the globe. But if we cannot monetize the latter specifically then it doesn’t mean much to us as filmmakers. Distribution of our films has been a challenge historically. And that is something that even I am still learning about and continuously exploring. Because in order for our industry to grow, we need to be connected. Not just in our industry, but also to Africa and the world.

Stein on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

It may be equally exciting and daunting to choose a career in film. My advice is simple: identify what path it is that you want to take and work towards that. We have such beautiful talent in our country and we have young, gutsy filmmakers who have shown that they are fearless and passionate about telling stories. However, one doesn’t want to rely on your friends and make movies with ‘no money’ for every film like with your first. In my view there is no such thing as making a movie with ‘no money’ – while you are not physically paying someone for a service or equipment, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cost anything. The ultimate goal is to be sustainable and that means creating a career that will pay the bills, take you on holiday, make you have a good life. Entering the industry also doesn’t mean having to start your own company. We see so many mushrooming, but is it beneficial to building an industry? Buying equipment on the cheap so you can offer services on the cheap as a one-man-show only harms the entire industry. We have to honour the value we have as well as that of our industry. Would it make more sense to combine your skills set with likeminded individuals to make films and offering your services together to clients (because you’re not only going to be making movies in our industry)? You don’t have to go at it on your own and we have a collective responsibility to build an industry that will outlive us all.

Understanding that funding opportunities are existing outside Namibia is crucial too. Connecting with fellow filmmakers is essential – the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented. Most established filmmakers have gone down the same path so they can be engaged on what successes they had and how they went about it. There are also other opportunities in the industry because Namibia is a popular destination for foreign productions. While as writer/ director one would want to identify as a content producer, working on international productions create an opportunity for income for technical support crew and provides a great learning platform. With hard work and tons of perseverance, I got to where I am. But the film landscape is always changing and I have to be cognizant of that. So I must be willing and able to adapt. 

Florian Schott- Writer/Director/Producer (‘Katutura’, ‘Baxu and the Giants’, ‘Everything Happens For a Reason’,…)

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On Set of Florian Schott’s 2013 film, Everything Happens For a Reason

Schott on Filmmaking in Namibia…

I don’t think anyone can convince me that making films is not the best job in the world. As a filmmaker, you not only get to tell stories, entertain people, get them out of their lives and introduce them to a different one for a brief moment, but you have the chance to shape the world around you, to create a discussion about issues that are important. Being a filmmaker in Namibia comes with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We have great opportunities here, as we have riches of stories, talent and unfortunately also quite a number of societal issues that need addressing. The challenges are a lack of support and funding. Making films is only possible in collaboration, and film can be expensive, so there is a constant fight in order to get funds to make films.  But we are lucky that we have the Namibia Film Commission that not only helps filmmakers make films but also can help in getting the film out there – something that a lot of other African countries don’t have.  So making films in Namibia it’s a challenge, but the fight is part of the experience, and the reward in having audiences react to your film is even sweeter if the road to making the film was challenging.

Schott on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

Let me just say that if you go into film for the money you are probably on the wrong path. There are many easier ways to make money. Personally, I can only make a living directing and writing films because of my work outside of the country. But I am in the privileged position to be able to make a living being a director. There are ways to make a living in film, but this way means not specialising on one thing only. It is hard living off directing or being a cinematographer, or writer, or editor only.  But if you know how to do multiple things, like you can film and also edit, you do fictional films but also commercials and corporate videos, you direct but you can also service produce other production company’s films, or you work in film and also theatre – that way you can actually make a living of film in Namibia.

Schott on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

You have to continue working, always pushing ahead, always developing, not stopping.
There were a few instances where I questioned if the fight is worth it, as the work you put in and at least the financial reward of it is definitely not in any healthy proportion.
But the impact your films can have, just in the last weeks seeing hundreds of kids’ reactions after watching Baxu and the Giants is worth every minute you put into your films. Or the hundreds of emails, messages and just personal encounters after Katutura, and how it inspired young people to want to make films; this is what keeps you going. You know there will be people appreciating locally produced films and stories. And I feel it’s important, especially for young people, to read books and watch films in their own languages. But it’s not only the result – the work itself, working with great co-writers, actors and crew is also just a beautiful way to spend your working life. I wouldn’t give it up for anything else in the world.

Oshoveli Shipoh- Director/Producer (‘Hairareb’, ‘Painted Scars’, ‘Looking For Nelao’,…)

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A screengrab from Oshoveli Shipoh’s 2019 film, ‘Hairareb’

Shipoh on Filmmaking in Namibia…

When you have an intimate population that is so well informed about anything and everything, it becomes an opportunity to rise and have a voice in the industry. A voice that can express stories in any shape or form. For me personally, the most important way to stay relevant as a filmmaker is to bring your business ‘A-game’ to the table. A lot of filmmakers pitch for work from an artistic perspective because they are passionate about the work. It’s an admirable thing but one must remember that the client expects you to be passionate regardless. The reality is that if you can’t convince a client why it is in their best interest to utilise your services, I think then we’ll have a lot of struggling filmmakers.

Shipoh on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

You can absolutely make money from film here. I’ve noticed an increasingly high demand for my services over the past year, which has grown beyond the lights, camera and action. It’s unfortunate that our industry is not yet big enough to only focus on one component of the film industry. As a Namibian filmmaker, we should see ‘film’ as a tool to penetrate every corner of the industry. We have to take advantage of what we’re good at so that anyone in any sector will want to pay you to do what you enjoy doing. In SA the industry is so big that an actor can make a career from just doing soapies and nothing else, we don’t have that here, unfortunately. So as an established film director I don’t just focus on doing feature films and shorts, I’m directing commercials, documentaries, corporate videos and now recently just started my first film workshop.

Shipoh on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

I’m thankful for being in a position where I don’t need to look for film projects, they come looking for me. So when I get started I ensure to keep paying as much attention to the details of the vision of the film without getting lost in the artistic mess. To adapt and stay relevant in the industry we need to go beyond limitation.

Desiree Kahikopo- Director/Producer (‘The White Line’,.)

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Screengrab from Desiree Kahikopo’s 2019 film, ‘The White Line.

Kahikopo on Filmmaking in Namibia…

In all honesty, filmmaking is great because we love it and it is hard at the same time. For you to do this and pursue with everything that comes with it and it’s not easy, you have to love it, really really love it. In Namibia, because the industry is still growing and we only have one funding body and not very keen corporate companies and private individuals willing to invest in film, it really is challenging on the financing part and we need funds to make films or tv shows and distribution is especially difficult too.

Kahikopo on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

I have been in the arts and film industry for a while and I have not been able to make a living out of it as off yet, but it is possible, I think the public is really interested in Namibian films and are willing to go see films and that equals box office returns, and with proper marketing to fill up the cinemas and distribution that works both ways, filmmakers can make a living and of course with the involvement of corporate companies and individuals to invest in this art form because they can recoup their investments. We can’t do this alone.

Kahikopo on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

Look at what you’re interested in doing with in the industry ( Camera, acting, directing) and look around to see what’s out there; casting, people looking for crew members and get started. Networking and relationship building is important, it gets you started and keeps you working. And just work hard and be consistent and persistent.

***

This article was inspired by an IndieWire article on making money from independent films.

The 2010s: A Decade In Namibian Film, Music and Theatre

At the beginning of 2010 music, film and theatre was a struggling business, 10 years later, it is still a struggling business but at least now, quality and substance is the standard. This decade has seen a lot of improvement for the Namibian film industry, and if the years 2018 and 2019 specifically are anything to go by, the 2020s decade is going to be even better and Namibia’s entertainment industry is getting well aligned with the rest of the world.

Capturing a decade in a single article is not easy, but with the input from industry spectators Faith Haushona-Kavamba (Journalist), Rodelio Lewis (Radio Host) and Netumbo ‘Mickey’ Nekomba (Journalist) and myself, we are going to attempt to give you a glimpse of Namibian film, music and theatre in the 2010s decade.

Film

The local film industry is growing from strength to strength as there is an improvement in produced content and narratives. New creative and innovative players penetrating the film market are also on the rise and the more experienced guys finally get the importance of quality production.

However, the greatest challenge to the Namibian Film industry still faces is the lack of consistent film funding and corporate/investor buy-in. Large budget films are largely still funded by the Namibia Film Commission. Naturally, this is the main reason the industry is growing at a slower pace but there have been pretty good films produced in this decade.

What We Liked

  • Coming Home (2014), by Miranda Stein
  • Katutura (2015) by Florian Schott
  • #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (2019) by Tim Heubscle
  • 100 Bucks (2012) by Oshosheni Hiveluah
  • Baxu and the Giants (2019) by Florian Schott
  • The White Line (2019), (2019) by Desiree Kahikopo
  • Tjiraa (2012) by Krischka Stoffels
  • Hairareb (2019) by Oshoveli Shipoh

Faith’s favourites: Tjiraa, Katutura, 100 Bucks.  “I didn’t really like the storyline of Katutura, but I have to admit it was a visually appealing film. It was a top-notch Namibian production and had a really talented cast. 100 Bucks was simple yet appealing because it simply tracked how money travels from the claws of the wealthy to the palms of the poor. Another local production that was ahead of its time was Tjiraa because it addressed the seldom-discussed issue of arranged marriages and marital rape in this country. It is still very relevant today.”

Rodelio’s favourites: Katutura, #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, Coming Home. “Katutura spearheaded the standards of what quality can and should look like when it comes to Namibian films and the film showcased the talent of Namibian actors in a way that I’ve never seen it before. It really was a game-changer and from the onset, I perceived the local film industry in a new light. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm changed my understanding of what beauty really looks like when it comes to our country; it invited you into what makes Namibia so diverse and so appealing. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm also showed you that there are very compelling stories that need to be told. Also, that is one badass action thriller! In Coming Home, I saw Odile Gertze acting for the first time and I was just blown away by her acting skills. I was like ‘this girl deserves to be in international films’. Coming Home has a very powerful storyline too.”

Mickey’s favourites: The White Line, Katutura. “I would watch The White Line over and over again. It stole my heart with its incredible visuals and a powerful portrayal of an interracial couple in the apartheid era. Katutura had everyone talking. There were so many screenings when it first premiered, that most of the venues were full and it was difficult to see it! When I eventually did, I was quite amazed. What a wonderful movie.”

In terms of technical aesthetics in film, 2019 has been a great year. Compared to the poor visual appeal, horrible sound quality or that one horrible telenovela filter short the decade started with, there has been a major improvement in the technical quality of films. Listen, even the narratives and acting in our films is better these days. Baxu and the Giants and The White Line are not only well received nationally, but internationally the films are also having a feast, enjoying major attention from film festivals and audiences alike. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm and Hairareb are also doing well for themselves and were beautiful and well-executed films, especially #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm.

Notable Mentions

  • Encore (2019), a short film by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Looking For Iilonga (2011), a short film by Tim Heubscle
  • Everything Happens For A Reason (2014), a short film by Florian Schott
  • Salute! (2018), a feature  by Philippe Talavera
  • Tjitji – The Himba Girl (2014), a short film by Oshosheni Hiveluah
  • The Date (2019), a short film by Mikiros Garoes

Music

Music is probably the most consumed facet of the Namibian entertainment industry and most credit goes to music fans who have kept expectations high, prompting musicians to up their game. The introduction of the Namibian Annual Music Awards in 2011 is also another factor for the massive growth in Namibian music. The technological advances and the rise of seasoned and new- especially new- music industry influences defined the 2010s decade, musically.

Over the span of the past 10 years, many Namibian musicians have made their mark nationally and internationally, with various collaborations, awards and performances.

What We Liked

  • Boss Madam – (Sally Boss-Madam)
  • Swagga (Gazza)
  • Aalumentu (PDK)
  • Zoom Zoom – (Lady May)
  • Penduka (Gazza ft. Mandoza)
  • Thando Iwam (DJ Bojo Mujo ft. Tequila)
  • Warakata (One Blood)
  • Johny (TopCheri)
  • Khâimâ (KK ft Tswazis)
  • Chelete (Gazza)
  • National Address (LSD)

Mickey’s Favourites: Penduka, Thando Iwam, Warakata. “I love my daily dose of local music! Penduka’s release was an epic time in Namibian music. Five seconds in the song and you already know what’s about to go down. It is classic! In 2011, DJ Bojo Mujo and Tequila created a storm with Thando Iwam. There was hardly a place you could step into without hearing “if I marry you, will you marry me?” There’s no doubt this song will continue to create an impact. As for Warakata, One Blood came, they saw and they conquered. No matter what tribe you are, you danced to this song. I absolutely love this hit.”

Faith’s favourites: Boss Madam, Swagga, Aalumentu. “Although we already knew Sally, Boss Madam was the hit that cemented her as the queen of afro-fusion; it was fresh, unexpected and just what we needed on the airwaves. I’m not a Kwaito fan but there was just something about Swagga that I loved. It wasn’t anything like I’d heard from Gazza before. It’s not every day that you hear a cow mooing in the intro of a song, and that immediately grabs your attention and that happens in the intro of Aalumentu. It’s unfortunate that it was so underrated but it’s a great song that shows unity and pride, and dare I say more relevant today than when it was released because we are seeing divisive/tribalist rhetoric being spewed more than ever.”

Rodelio’s favourites:  Zoom Zoom, Boss Madam, National Address. “It’s no lie that I love Sally Boss Madam, and after seeing her perform live, I stalked her and found that Boss Madam song. I saw the respect she has for her craft. Boss Madam is still a hit and Sally understands longevity when it comes to music. Zoom Zoom was and is still a boss song. Plus the music video slaps. Our current economic and political climate is in a very fragile state and it’s important for everyone’s voice to be heard. The group LSD, came together and created an anthem and music video that carries a powerful message that amplifies the frustrations’ faced by the Namibian youth and everyone else as well. National Address carries an important social message and what’s great is you’re still able to twerk and live your best life to the song.”

Songs like Chelete, Johny and Khâimâ define the road to triumph in Namibian music. Musicians continue to create a soundscape that draws from, rap, dancehall, reggae, hip-hop, afro-pop, jazz, hip-hop, otjivire and pop and we are totally here for it. The 2010s decade was a great start and with the looming decade, the possibilities for growth are endless, especially with the growing artistry in Namibian music.

Notable Mentions

  • Inotila (Tate Buti)
  • Saka (PDK ft. Top Cheri, King Elegant and Athawise)
  • Go to Malawi (Exit feat. Neslouw & ML)
  • Young, Wild And Free (Sunny Boy)
  • I believe (Linda ft Petersen)
  • Boom Boom (Freeda)
  • Swaai (Twasis ft. Adora)
  • I Promise (Jerico)
  • Everything Happens For A Reason (Lize Ehlers)
  • Wumwe Tati Kalako (Mushe feat Tequila/Tekla)
  • Netira (Kalux)
  • Chip in, Chip Out (King Tee Dee)
  • Tala (Lioness)
  • Kaandjetu (Jomolizo Ft Liina)
  • Fikulimwe (Young T)
  • Fantastic Sam (Lize Ehlers)
  • Nuka (King Tee Dee ft. Chesta)
  • No longer Slaves (Nam Gospel United)
  • Drowning In My Feelings (Y’Cliff)
  • Net So (Sally Boss Madam)
  • Numba Numba (Big Ben)
  • Twamana (Blacksheep)
  • Lost (Micheal Pulse)
  • Money (Gazza ft. Lady May)
  • Ethimbo (Oteya)

Theatre

Although only having been exposed to the theatre in this decade, Namibian theatremakers made sure Namibia enjoys the ancient craft in its finest form. When the decade started in 2010, theatre was really something you’d only see in schools. Mainstream theatre was poorly attended and only enjoyed by ‘theatre nerds’. Also, not much was happening in the theatre fraternity. If you were a theatre lover, you’d go months without seeing a quality theatre play, but as the years stretched on, theatre productions became more and more frequent.

Since 2015, the theatre has been on an upward trajectory and the appetite for theatre grew as dramas and musicals became popular with more and more people. This decade has seen a range of locally written and international plays produced and performed with quality and zest. As it stands, theatre has a large number of loyal theatregoers who enjoy seeing live performances from some of Namibia’s finest theatre actors.

What We Liked

  • Die Stoep (2019) by Jonathan Sasha
  • Meme Mia (2013) by Sandy Rudd
  • Lammie Beukes (2014) by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Prime Colours (2014) by Zindri Swartz)
  • The Shebeen Queen by Nashilongweshipwe Mushandja
  • Battered (2019) by Donald Matthys
  • The Nuthouse (2018) by Lloyd Winini
  • Ominous (2016) by Jenny Kandenge
  • Fences (2018) by Nelago Shilongoh
  • Meet Me at Dawn (2019) Sandy Rudd

Rodelio’s favourites: Prime Colours, Die Stoep, Meme Mia. “Prime Colours was one of the first multimedia productions, incorporating an LGBTIQ+ narrative in a way that sparked dialogue and opened the door for much-needed healing. It also got me my first two Namibian Theatre and Film nominations and win as a professional actor. Meme Mia inspired me to better my craft and I knew I wanted to one day work with Sandy Rudd, a dream that came true in 2018. Die Stoep invited the coloured and baster community’s lives and truths to the table, with the cast, director/writer, musical director and stage Manger all being coloured and baster, this all Afrikaans play was very loved sold out all 3 nights.”

Mickey’s Favourite: Die Stoep. “After watching Die Stoep, many audience members left the National Theatre of Namibia’s Backstage with tears, which shows how much of an emotional impact it had on all of us. It will remain one of the best plays of 2019.”

Faith’s favourites: Meme Mia, The Sheebeen Queen, Battered. “Sandy Rudd is a force to be reckoned with, she reimagined the classic Mama Mia to suit the Namibian audience instead of regurgitating what we had already seen. Her cast was insanely talented, which just made the play all more magical. Jacques Mushaandja’s debut play, The Shebeen Queen, was spectacular, he had a young vibrant cast, and most importantly the play gave us a glimpse into sheebeen life and unemployment. He was ahead of his time. Sex work is work, a woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices (including whether or not to have an abortion) and LGBTQ rights are a basic human right. Battered brought some of these issues to the forefront, not to mention that it had a stellar cast that brought it all to life.”

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A scene from Die Stoep. (Image: NTN)

In this decade, Namibian theatremakers have adapted numerous world plays such as Mama Mia (Meme Mia), Fences, District Six, and Meet Me At Dawn and the delivery of these productions was stellar. Local writers and directors used the theatre stage to bring comic relief and tackle social issues and productions like The Nuthouse and Daddy’s Girls have been nothing short of pure magnificent theatre. Every year, the National Theatre of Namibia is investing lots of financial assistance in the art of theatre and the creation of local stories and the organisation deserves a nod for its continuous investment into the craft. Smaller theatre venues and theatre organisations also reap the benefits of the growing theatregoer culture Namibians are developing. The 2020s are very promising!

Notable Mentions

  • ‘Revere Them Those Men’ (2014) by Hafeni Muzanima
  • The Teacher (2012) by Frederick Philander
  • Daddy’s Girls (2018) by Jenny Kandenge
  • Every Woman (2019) by Senga Brockerhoff
  • Thinning Lines (2018) by Ndakalako Shilongo
  • Tales of Roses in Concrete (2018) by Ashwyn Mberi
  • Three Women and You (2018) by David Ndjavera
  • Aspoestertjie (2017) Abraham Pieters
  • A Raisin in the Sun (2018) by Sepiso Mwange
  • Fell (2017) by Blessing Mbonambi & Junelle Mbonambi – Stroh
  • Madam President (2017) by Keamogetsi Joseph Molapong
  • District Six (2017) by Tanya Terblanche

Remembering Namibian Filmmaker, Oshosheni Hiveluah

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Oshosheni Hiveluah receiving the Audience Choice Award for her film ‘100 Bucks’ at the 2012 Namibian Theatre and Film Awards. (Image: NTN/Facebook)

Namibian filmmaker, Oshosheni Hiveluah, who was very instrumental in the development of Namibia’s film industry died on 9 October after a short illness.

Hiveluah who has written, directed and produced numerous films, including Tjitji the Himba Girl, 100 bucks and Cries At Night, has travelled the world with her craft and received various awards and mentions for her work as a filmmaker.

She has was a member of the Namibia Filmmakers Association, taught the art of acting to many aspiring actors and also very recently served on the film jury of the 2019 Namibian Theatre and Film Awards.

In a 2017 interview with Red Hot Film Production Hiveluah shared how Wolfgang Petersen’s The Never-Ending Story inspired her into filmmaking.

“During those two hours I was watching this movie, I was just living in this world with them were turtles could talk and they had all these flying creatures and it definitely sparked within me a love for film…” Hiveluah said in the interview.

She described her stories as being about a little bit of everything, and about life, adding “I am very interested in exploring…why we do certain things, why we are the way we are, but at the same time I also want to tell stories that are about hope, that are about strength, that is about us being better people; about us inspiring one another.”

Throughout the video, she talks about her brave plunge into the world of filmmaking, her love for poetry, and her growth and life lessons as a woman.

Watch the video here:

NTFA 2019 Red Carpet: All The Looks

All roads led to the National Theatre of Namibia’s Auditorium on 5 October 2019 as Namibia celebrated the best in local film and theatre at the 5th Namibian Film and Theatre Awards in Windhoek.

Related: Full list of winners at the 2019 Namibian Theatre and Film Awards.

The dress code for the event was ‘Afrofuturism’ and these were some the favourite looks from the Red Carpet:

Jay- Aeron

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(Image: BeanieBoy Photoworks/Provided)

Reinhard Mahalie and Odile Gertze

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(Image: BeanieBoy Photoworks/Provided)

Kulan Ganes

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Jennifer Timbo

1
(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Hazel Hinda

4
(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Lavinia Kapewasha

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Cherlien and Florian Schott

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Donovan Majiedt and Adriano Visagie

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Mikiros Garoes

3
(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Frieda Karipi and Micheal Pulse

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Sunet van Wyk

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(Image: Provided)

Chantell Uiras and Gift Uzera

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Bobby Kanjoosa and Tanya Terblanche

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Lahja Haufiku

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Philippe Talavera and Annie Barbazanges

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Bianca Heyns

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Camilla Jo-ann Daries

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Beverly Naris and Dice

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Daniel Kuhlmann and Rodelio Lewis

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(Image: Sylshine_Photography)

Jason Kooper and 

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(Image: Provided)

How To Identify Bad Acting

 

I’ve directed two theatre productions so far, meaning I had to sit through auditions and make casting decisions. I also had the opportunity to see many Namibian stage productions and as a film fanatic, over the years I have seen numerous movies; both local and international.

I’d like to think my taste in cinema is pretty much above average. While I really enjoy high-quality movies with big names, I also watch a good variety of indie films with amateur actors. I judge films/plays on its storyline, technicality and for the most part, on acting. Acting can make or break a film or play. A good actor can save a horrible script, whereas a bad actor can destroy a good script. In my opinion, acting is the biggest part of any production. Otherwise, people could just write good scripts and we’d go to the cinema/theatre to listen to the message, but that not really the gig, is it?

From a film perspective, I have seen movies/tv-shows from various industries; Namibia, South Africa, Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood, UK, China, etc.. You can tell it is a lot of different cultures and storytelling methods, but the acting is the only thing that really sets the movie for me.

So how do you know an actor’s performance is bad? Here are the signs of a bad actor:

Bad Actors Speak In A Monotone

You know that thing where an actor is on stage/screen and you are convinced they are reading from a cue card? This type of acting is horrible. Bad actors take the script, rehearse their lines and focus on sounding their lines word for word, without adding any type of personal expressiveness to their speech. If the speed, pitch and delivery of an actor’s dialogue remains the same while they are talking, they are bad at their job.

Bad Actors Are Afraid To Break Down Walls

In order for an actor to be believable, they have to convince their audience by showing, not by saying. An actor can have a very intense script to work with, but if they can’t show how they really feel, they are bad at their job. If an actor is afraid to be vulnerable on stage or on screen, they are bad. A good actor will not be afraid to be embarrassed. For instance, actors who refuse to be in nude or kissing scenes will not really heighten their acting capabilities- not that these equate to good acting, but being comfortable and really selling the character will unlock great acting potential. Actors who hold back are bad at their jobs.

Bad Actors Don’t Know How To Work With Their Castmates

What this means is they just don’t listen to their acting partner. This can especially be detrimental to stage productions. A bad actor is only focused on remembering and delivering their lines, so much that they don’t care what their dialogue partner said, they will blindly deliver their next line without properly reacting to what the other actor said. A bad actor is only focused on looking good on camera or stage, they don’t care about their fellow castmates.

Everything You Need To Know About The 2019 Namibian Theatre & Film Awards

The biggest and most anticipated night in Namibia’s stage and screen industry is fast approaching. The 2019 Namibian Theatre & Film Awards will take place on 5 October in the National Theatre of Namibia’s auditorium.

This year, the country’s entertainers and content creators within the theatre and film sphere will be competing in categories like Best Newcomer, Best Student Film, Best Adapted Script, Best Musical, Best Narrative Film, Best Documentary, Best Set, Stage & Costume, Best Production Design, Best Sound and Music, Best Editor, Best Cinematography, Best Music Video Editor as well as all the best directing, writing and acting categories in both theatre and film.

The nominees for the 2019 Namibia Theatre & Film Awards were announced on 12 September at the National Theatre of Namibia’s Backstage theatre by the theatre’s Public Relations Officer, Desiree Mentor and Media Personality & TLC’s first African Presenter, David Mbeha. Mbeha and Mentor will be dressed by Ingo Shanyenge and have their make-up done by Jay-Aeron who have both been selected as Official Designer and Make-Up Artist for the event.

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David Mbeha and Desiree Mentor at the nomination ceremony on 11 September 2019. (Image: Namibia Film Commission)

This year, the bi-annual Namibian Theatre & Film Awards marks 5 years of celebrating Namibia’s theatre and film practitioners since the inception of the awards in 2010.

Here’s the deep dive on the 2019 event:

WHO IS HOSTING THE 2019 NTFA?

The official co-hosts of the 2019 Namibian Theatre and Film Awards are radio & TV Personality, singer/songwriter and MC and entrepreneur, Matthew ‘Mappz’ Kapofi and radio & TV Personality, Satirical Columnist and MC, Laurika Williams.

WHERE AND WHEN IS THE 2019 NTFA?

The 2019 Award ceremony will return to the National Theatre of Namibia’s auditorium on 5 October. The event will kick off with the Red Carpet at 18h00 and the Award Ceremony at 20h00.  The show will be broadcast on National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) afterwards (date and time to be communicated later).

WHO ARE THE NOMINEES FOR THE 2019 NTFA?

As expected, in the film category, Oshoveli Shipoh’s feature film, Hairareb, Florian Schott’s short film Baxu and The Giants and Desiree Kahikopo’s feature film The White Line dominated this year’s nominations with a staggering of 7 nominations, each. In the theatre category, Nelagoh Shilongoh’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences reigned supreme with a total of 5 nominations, followed by Sepiso Mwange’s adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun which earned 4 nominations. Senga Brockerhoff’s Every Woman and Donald Matthys’s Battered followed with 3 nominations, each.

The biggest snubs perhaps are Philippe Talevera’s film Salute, which didn’t get a single nomination and Ashwyn Mberi’s play Tales of Roses in Concrete which only received the Best Male Actor nomination.

For the FULL NOMINEE list, click HERE.

WHO ATTENDS THE 2019 NTFA?

The ceremony will be attended by the media, film and theatre industry professionals and their partners and is by invitation only.

WHO IS THE GUEST SPEAKER FOR THE 2019 NTFA?

The Guest Speaker for the 2019 Namibia Theatre and Film Awards is South African actress known for her leading role in the movie and stage play Sarafina! and for her roles in other films such as Hotel Rwanda, Yesterday and Invictus, Leleti Khumalo.

WHO ARE THE JURORS FOR THE 2019 NTFA?

The theatre jury consists of Prof. Sarala Krishnamurthy, Dr Juliet Pasi, Dr Suzette van der Smit and Mr Jonathan Sam while the film jury consists of Dr. Hugh Ellis, Ms Karlien Kruger, Ms Oshosheni Hiveluah and Ms Taleni Shimhopileni.

 

5 Most Anticipated Namibian Films For 2019

As the year is getting in the full climax, many film projects are wrapping up production and preparing to the premiere.

These are the ones that we’re looking forward to seeing the most:

1. #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm 

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Photo: Facebook

Unarguably the most anticipated film in Namibia. This wonderfully authentic crime thriller, firmly rooted in Namibia follows a policewoman, who in her pursuit of investigating a series of murders is challenged by a ruthless reporter who exposes deep, dark secrets from her past to unhinge the case and ultimately, her life.

Director: Tim Huebschle
Starring: Elize de Wee, Armas Shivute, Pieter Greeff, Ralf Boll.
Expected Release: 10 October 2019

2. Baxu and The Giants

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Photo: Instagram

This live-action short film explores how rhino poaching triggers a social change in a village in Damaraland, told through the eyes of an 8-year-old girl, Baxu, who is in touch with nature and her own heritage. The film comes with a sense of poetry in the imagery; the music and the way the young hero tells her story, promising to take the viewer from the time of hunter-gatherers into the modern-day.

Director: Florian Schott
Starring: Camilla Jo-Ann Daries, West Uarije, Steven Afrikaner, Wafeeq /Narimab, Anna Louw.
Expected Release: 19 September 2019

3. Hairareb

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Photo: Facebook

This feature follows a lonely farmer who faces a devastating drought, trying to open a new chapter with his new bride after he gets her to marry him by inciting her family with money. The film promises themes of love, jealousy, loss, materialism, and betrayal. The film represents a unique and beautiful portrayal of a truly Namibian story along with an intimate depiction of Namibian culture.

Director: Oshoveli Shipoh
Starring: David Ndjavera, Claudine de Groot, Hazel Hinda, Kadeen Kaoseb (KK).
Expected Release: 30 August 2019

4. Encore

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Photo: Instagram

The short film combines stage and screen as a dancer finds herself lost in an old theatre, where she meets a carpenter who shows her something that turns her reality upside down.

Director: Senga Brockerhoff
Starring: Odile Gertze, David Ndjavera
Release: 16 May 2019

5. The White Line

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Photo: Facebook

This feature film is about a love story that plays out within the context of Apartheid, following two people who found each other and fell in love regardless of the colour of their skin, their cultural or socio-economic backgrounds. The film explores Namibia’s history and aims to visually share the pain and subsequently, love, in Namibia’s past.

Director: Desiree Kahikopo
Starring: Girley Charlene Jazama, Jan-Barend Scheepers, Sunet Van Wyk, Mervin Uahupirapi.
Expected Release: 2019

Living with depression in the entertainment industry: Abraham Pieters opens up

The long hours and uncompromising demands of the entertainment industry are the main causes of depression and anxiety in artists. It all comes down to the brutality of the entertainment industry; this industry generally strives to under-appreciate its participants.

Many artists reluctantly shake off anxiety or depression by saying “it’s just showbiz”. However, artist’ accounts on their battle with mental illness go a long way; it gives an invisible social acceptance to the general public who wish to seek help and helps to normalise conversations around mental illness.

With hopes that his story will save a life, producer, director and thespian, Abraham Pieters or AB as he is known popularly, talks about his battle with depression and anxiety in this open letter:

RELATED: Abraham Pieters sets sight on E! News, OWN

“I always had a split personality, but never really knew what it was. At school I always made everyone laugh. I would imitate teachers and just be the class clown- from High school to College from College to every work place I’ve worked before. I can remember working in Cape Town on Expresso and Afternoon Express my colleagues literally made me imitate people. People would just assume I’m a funny, happy ball of passion. At home it’s the exact same thing: I am the performer and I make everyone laugh around me.”

“I was laughing with everyone but deep down, there was no laughter. People think depression is sadness, people think depression is crying, people think depression is being quiet. But depression is when we smile but want to cry, it’s when we talk but we want to be quiet, or when we pretend to be happy and we’re not. Depression is not always obvious. You try your utmost best to drown your pain and learn how to swim. Being a clown is my coping mechanism and my shield.”

“I’m in an industry where you are constantly surrounded by people, people who follow my career religiously. However, in reality I have no one to walk with me. When my phone is up and I post something on social media or even on WhatsApp, everything becomes a performance of some sorts. But when my phone is down -the reality kicks in. Being in the entertainment industry you get invites to every single event and with that comes media attention and articles are being written about you and that echoes out to all my family, friends and admires that selling the image that ‘AB’ has an amazing life’ or ‘AB is happy.’ I have many contacts on my two phones – family and friends and acquaintances and they think they know who I am. Truth is, I go through pain almost 90 percent of the time; sometimes I constantly try and hide from the world. I sort of became an expert in being able to mask my sadness with what looks like the ‘ideal’ life. When my career goes a step higher, I tend to go lower internally every time. My inbox is always full but my soul is empty. I look happy from the outside but the reality is that I am struggling with depression and anxiety within. I am in an industry that’s about glitz and glamour but not everything that shines is gold.”

“Don’t be fooled by someones physical appearance and be clouded with what you see on the outside because in reality you don’t know that person. Wherever I go, I always introduce myself, I never assume that people know me.”

“I am struggling with depression. I am not ashamed to say that I struggle with mental illness, especially in the entertainment Industry that comes with so many hypocrites, toxicity and evil and that put awful pressures on a person, creating a void and make us feel a need to succumb. We are losing a generation of young people who do not believe that their voices are worth hearing. We need to share our stories. When I speak about mental health, especially when I’m speaking about mine, whether it is on social media or on my WhatsApp, – there will always be one or two people that have the courage to reply and share their story with me. I always let them know that we are equal. That we both walk our two feet on this Earth. That we’re in this together. And the reason people assume that public figures are perfect human beings is because they are hooked to our physical appearance and to maintain this physical appearance and to be in a world of make believe. The truth is that this world of make believe we create puts so much pressure on us mentally and physically. To maintain a lifestyle and create an expectation of what your life is supposed to be like.”

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“Depression doesn’t take away your talents- it just makes them harder to find. I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that is left. I’ve learned not to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel but continuously try to remind myself that I am the light within the tunnel.”

“It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch. I was overwhelmed by something I did not understand – my own brain. It’s beyond hard to communicate to people what exactly is going on in your head, when you yourself don’t understand it. But the more you talk about your depression and anxiety, the more you become aware of the problem you have and not shy away from it but treat it like you would treat any other sickness. And Don’t live up for the approval of others. Hebrews 3:13 gives us some great insight about people. It highlights the fact that when people go through tough things in life, their heart turns away from God. I believe more people have walked away from God because of temptation to sin. They walked way from a relationship with God due to great disappointment. This is why encouraging someone daily is important. The same things that nourish and keep great friendships are the same things that spark and begin new ones. Encouragement is something you should do with whoever is in-front of you right now, to prepare your heart mind and your spirit for new and divine connections. Make a decision today that your going to be a person who looks for daily opportunities to encourage someone. One of the greatest needs of a human heart is to be appreciated. There’s at least one friend you know right now that you’ve gown accustomed to. They’re good at something that has grown normal to you and others around them. They haven’t been appreciated in long time. Take some time today and be intentional. Send them an encouragement text, email or card, brag about them behind their back to someone else. Make them feel like a million bucks, it’s not just good for them but good for you. I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words. Kind words … positive words … words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free.”

Robin Williams Said: “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

5 Namibian Short Films To Watch On YouTube

Looking For Iilonga

Simon’s wife borrowed money from a loan shark. Now Simon has to pay back the debt.
​He leaves his rural home to find work in the ruthless city. (Length: 17 mins 42 secs)

Orange Juice

A story of love and betrayal (Length: 8 mins 25 secs)

Where There’s Smoke

An ex-gunman is sent to rescue a hostage from a dangerous criminal but unknown to him he gets followed by a mysterious man. (Length: 10mins 17secs)

Everything Happens for a Reason

The film follows a man whose girlfriend is leaving him, there is a strange man following and threatening him and his phone gets stolen. He tries to make things right but whatever he does he seems to be getting into more and more trouble. His actions take him to the Christus Kirche overlooking Windhoek, where he faces all his new enemies. When the police arrive at the scene he seems to be saved – or is he? (Length: 14mins 32secs)

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This film explores the balancing act of two worlds. Vezuva returns home to find she is expected to marry her cousin. She is familiar with the custom but would like a compromise, as she loves someone else. (Length: 18mins)

6 Annoying Things People Do At The Theatre

Get this, the theatre is wonderful. It’s an experience like none else. However, there are still some severe pet peeves that really threaten to drive me to my deathbed. Yes, I am going to be that guy and bicker about theatre etiquette.

1. Coming In Late.
You know when the show starts, try and be at the theatre at least 30 minutes before the show starts. Nobody is going to wait for you and no one wants to see you crouch down as your shadow crosses the stage or worse, squeeze between people to get to your seat.

2. Taking up way too much room.
Sit on your seat like a normal person. Don’t stretch your arms out, cross your legs or do any other weird crap. And under no circumstances take up both armrests. One each. Stay in your lane. Personal space is important, even in the theatre.

3. Being on your phone.
I don’t care what emergency you are having; turning your phone on is an atmosphere killer. It is distracting, disrespectful and irritating.

4. Talking.
You went to the theatre to listen to someone else’s dialogue. Shut your mouth. The actors are talking, that’s what’s important. As soon as you enter the auditorium, zip. Don’t wait for the show to start. Just shut up. After the show, you can discuss the plot and share your thoughts on the show with your friends, just not in between the show. Lock those lips.

5. Public Display of Affection or PDA
Why? Going to see a play might be an excellent idea for a date, but please, get a room. We go to the theatre to watch other people pretend to like each other, not to be made uncomfortable by your PDA in the front row.

6. Taking bathroom breaks.
Bathroom breaks are for people 13 and younger. Or probably senior citizens people- because obviously ageing has its ups and downs. Young adults, I don’t need to keep pressing against my chair to let you navigate back and forth. Use the bathroom prior to the show or during intervals. If there are no intervals, suck it up.

10 Problems Only Namibian Theatre Actors Understand

Every actor who has been part of Namibia’s theatre scene can attest to the fact that theatre is not as glamorous as it seems, and many of the pitfalls are things that make you want to laugh and cry simultaneously.

Here are 10 problems only Namibian theatre actors can understand:

1. Getting out of rehearsal so late and still having to work or go to school the next morning.

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2. Your friends and family who aren’t in theatre don’t understand when you talk about show problems or tell them you can’t come to things because you have rehearsal.

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3. When all of your costumes come from your closet.

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4. The shows are always low budget.

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5. Trying to practice choreography/lines on your lunch hour during your day job. Firstly, there is no way you can sustain a life as a full-time theatre actor and still be able to pay your bills. Not here in Namibia. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

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6. Trying to convince yourself each and every new show that there won’t be politics involved in casting, and being wrong once again- there is always politics involved in casting. ALWAYS.

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7. When your blocking is changed every other night and you’re expected to remember which is the latest one.

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8. When you find out in tech week that the place you are to perform is only half the size of the place where you rehearsed.

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9. Begging friends to attend performances so seats are filled.

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10. Everybody gets undressed in front of each other and don’t even care because you have 30 seconds to change.

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Theatre is that second job that takes up all your time but makes you no real money. It is a labour of love!

(Inspired by theatrenerds.com)

How To Ace Your Cold Read Audition & Get That Role

Cold read auditions are auditions where you come in with almost nothing memorized; you may have received the material a day in advance or on arrival at your audition.

Namibia’s audition scene is mostly made out of cold read auditions. Cold read auditions can be daunting. However, it helps to be prepared.

Follow these 5 vital tips and get that role:

1. Prepare for your audition.

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There is a common misconception that it is impossible to prepare for a cold read audition. And yes, although you may not receive the actual audition material until right before, there are quite a few wonderful ways you can prepare. Going into an audition you should know what you’re auditioning for and therefore have the opportunity to research the show or film and become familiar with not only the characters but the time period, the story, the theme, and so on. Learn more about previous projects from the director and show up prepared.

Act

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Many aspiring actors come in and literally read when asked to read. If there is one thing directors hate more than anything is ‘pretend acting’. Acting means to do, not to talk. When you are outside the audition hall, take the script and memorize the part you want and walk in to act, not to read. As much as it’s not a sin to read, look up from the script. The people running the audition know that you had limited time with the piece of work and are aware that it won’t be perfect. Don’t worry about getting the lines word for word. Pay more attention to the performance and what you feel. Show real emotion.

Have confidence

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The fact that you showed up to audition is already an achievement. It shows guts. So don’t be afraid to let loose. Walk in the door with your held head high. You don’t get sympathy points if you’re nervous, not feeling well, or having a bad day. Leave it outside the door. You are being evaluated from the minute you walk in, so practice good posture and body language before you walk into the audition room. BUT, be wary of overconfidence and be ready to follow direction.

Be Punctual

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People speak really fast and it damages their audition because no one can understand them. This is because they came late to the audition and didn’t have much time to go through their lines. Being punctual will help you calm your nerves- which are inevitable. Being punctual also helps to get yourself energized. Jump around, dance to a great jam, and move! As crazy as it may seem, it can really help pump you up for an audition.

Use the ‘magic’ words

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Walk-in with a big natural smile, and say hello if the casting team is looking at you. Again, when they are done with you, regardless of how you felt you’ve done, just give a big lovely smile and say ‘thanks’ or ‘thank you very much’. Being lovely is something to cultivate. Our industry is so small but trust me, there are too many prima donnas still.

Having a personality as an actor is momentous

The personality of the actor makes up almost the majority of the performance. By bringing yourselves to the role, you eliminate the chances of another actor playing your parts as interesting as you can. Many actors have the ability to bring depth to a character, sometimes even more than you can, but they will NEVER be able to do it as interesting as you can.

I’d like to think that as humans, we all have a personality that makes us stand out from others. Heck, even identical twins do not have the same personality. As an actor, you need to give people a reason to keep coming back to see you on stage or screen. Bring your unique and original self to everything you do.

I have seen many local plays and films and I promise you; it doesn’t help to force yourself to tap into emotion. It’s just really cringeworthy. I have met many Namibian actors in person and then I see them on stage/screen- many make the mistake of believing that they have to fake a performance in order to create a character. It is painful to watch. These people simply hide behind their character and let their own true personality fade into the background.

As an actor, it is vital to be yourself. Of course, it is not an easy process to bare your authentic self during your performances. However, it helps to know what you would do if you were in the shoes of the character you are portraying. No amount of character-building exercises will save your performance. I promise you.

I say, don’t be afraid to be one-dimensional, especially when you are starting out. Many typecast actors can pull off many different characters, mainly because of their outstanding personalities.

Where is the Arts & Culture Policy?

By Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja

 

 

Why are Namibian artists, educators and cultural workers kept in the dark about the status arts and culture policy in the making?

Is it finally done? Why is there sudden silence regarding this significant national document that concerns the future of artistic praxis and cultural heritage of this country? How is it that the making of a single national document has taken 18 years for it to be created and finalized? What does this mean for its implementation, when we eventually get to that stage? Is there something that the Directorates of Arts and Culture, the government at large and other involved stakeholders are hiding from us?

Do we realize what harm this tedious and tardy process is causing to the well-being and development of cultural and creative sectors? These are just some of the many questions that come up during some of the difficult dialogues that we have amongst ourselves as cultural workers during moments of self-care in our fight for dignity and rightful place in a fragmented and displaced sector.

But where is the policy? Last year, while working at John Muafangejo Art Centre, I posed this question and I was told that it is back to Cabinet. What does this mean? What is happening now?

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While I am not a policy expert, I write this critique as an artist and educator with genuine interests of seeing a transformation in the local arts sector. We haven’t heard anything about the policy in a while, at least nothing thorough in the public sphere.

My questions come from my activist instinct to respond to our overdue and much needed holistic development in the arts and culture sectors. While I am an advocate of artists being the owners and agents of their own transformation instead of relying on the government, it is no doubt that we are still passengers of a sinking ship because of this one politicized and strange national document that is supposed ‘to guide us to our destination’. Our hands are tied and our legs are in chains. It is the arts and culture administrators that have these particular keys to this paper.

Now we can also pose the questions, what was the purpose of that 2015 conference? Who did it serve? Do we realize that it was unsuccessful in principle because the enthusiasm, ideas and hope that was generated there eventually disappeared into thin air?

What happened to Honourable Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s words “The days of the 500 dollar artist are over”? Does she know that young and graduating artists are still falling into the dysfunctional, corrupt and unstructured industry in which many of them do not manage to sustain their professional practices? Artists in the regions remain least supported and excluded by this elitist-patriarchal system, of which our government is the main architect. The struggling artist continues their walk.

It is often said that Namibia is lucky to have mostly government-funded art institutions across the board compared to many African countries. But what is the point of having rigid and stagnant bodies that have no commitment to genuine transformation?

What is the point of having these government-funded institutions of learning and culture that only out here to spread Swapo propaganda? Again we ask, where is that neo-liberal policy without a plan of action that we were once promised? We cannot expect radical transformation when artistic and cultural praxis is thoroughly left out of important national documents such as the recent National Development and the Harambee Prosperity Plans.

All cultural workers must demand transparency and accountability in this moment of uncertainty and isolation. Bureaucracy and maladministration are man-made, they can be disrupted. Cultural workers must go to the arts and culture offices in your region and ask for the policy and when those plans will be implemented. Tell them it is urgent. Ask for the plan of action. Organize other artists and go there regularly, you deserve to be here.

(Image by Vilho Nuumbala)