The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) announced the open call for scripts, artistic works and production concepts for the 2021/22 theatre season, inviting storytellers, writers, directors, choreographers, performers, designers and interdisciplinary artists to submit innovative works to be staged for local audiences.
The NTN seeks for powerful works, that bring forth refreshing narratives for audiences from different walks of life. The theatre encourages works in local languages, and submissions from communities which are underrepresented in theatre – both on and off stage. Artistic experiences that have something critical to say about the world we occupy today are also encouraged.
Artists from all across Namibia are welcome to submit for productions such as plays, performance art, concerts, dance productions and digital installations.
Submissions are open for the following programmes:
NEW MAKERS’ PROGRAM- (For newcomer theatre makers: writers, directors, performers) OUTREACH PROGRAM- (Community & Applied Theatre) CO-PRODUCTION PROGRAM- (For emerging and established theatre makers & artists. Funded in cooperation with an external producer) MAIN PROGRAM- (For experienced and professional theatre-makers and artists) LIVE ART PROGRAM- (For experimental and performative/ digital works by newcomer, emerging and professional artists).
All approved works will be produced by the NTN and feature as part of the season that will run from August 2021 – July 2022.
The call for submissions closes on the 20th of July 2020, 16H00.
The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) announced the temporary suspension of all its activities at the theatre and closure for the public until the 20 April, in compliance with the announcement made by President Hage Geingob on Saturday, 14 March to cancel all public gatherings.
In a statement issued on Monday 16 March, the theatre’s Public Relations Officer, Desiree Mentor said the decision has been compelled by the need to lessen the risk of infection.
“The health and well-being of all our stakeholders and theatre patrons are of utmost importance and takes precedence,” Mentor said in the statement.
In the same vein, NTN’s premier theatre production of Boet & Sus created and directed by Lize Ehlers which was currently in rehearsal and set to premiere on 23 April has now been postponed until further notice.
Mentor said the theatre will constantly assess the situation around coronavirus as they get advice and guidance from the government and adhere to contingency plans by responding to developing trends.
The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) kicks off 2020 with a new play titled Three Sisters, written and directed by Bret Kamwi.
The play follows a young woman who goes undercover into a prophet’s house to try and expose him for what she believes to be fake miracles and in her quest, she finds that the wives of the prophet are the backbone to his success.
Kamwi says his play, which is largely a religious satire, explores the “current religious” climate, where fewer young people attend church or follow religious people such as prophets.
Explaining the narrative, Kamwi says the play has all the different kinds of people who can be found in a religious setting, from the naive believers, who follow without question, to the sceptical believers, who believe in the message but not necessarily the messenger thereof.
While the piece was inspired by the rise in popularity of prophets in and around SADC countries, Kamwi says he wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the support structures around prophets.
“When I started writing there weren’t any clear themes that I was determined on tackling, I rather let the story take its own form and I didn’t know how it was going to end until I wrote the ending. Which in itself was a new writing process for me because I usually have the entire plan or outline of the story from beginning to end. Also while writing the final draft I had some incredible feedback from my mentor Sepiso Mwange, who has an amazing eye for detail and she helped me find questions to answers I didn’t know were there,” Kamwi says.
Despite this being his first production on the NTN stage, Kamwi is no stranger to the theatre craft, having written and staged three theatre productions at the University of Namibia while studying Music and Drama. He has also performed on the NTN stage numerous times.
The cast includes Melgisedek Nehemia, Xavier M, Diana Master, Penny Heelu, Kaarina Nambinga, Vaja Tjipueja and Taylo Mannetti. The production is mentored by art educator, Sepiso Mwange.
Three Sisters is produced by the Theatre under its Theatre Zone Project, a platform for new theatremakers and will run from 5 – 7 March at NTN’s Backstage. All performances start at 20h00. General tickets are charged at N$80 and students and senior citizens tickets are discounted at N$50. Tickets are available via Computicket outlets countrywide.
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.
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.
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 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)
Zoom Zoom – (Lady May)
Penduka (Gazza ft. Mandoza)
Thando Iwam (DJ Bojo Mujo ft. Tequila)
Warakata (One Blood)
Khâimâ (KK ft Tswazis)
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.
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)
Chip in, Chip Out (King Tee Dee)
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)
Lost (Micheal Pulse)
Money (Gazza ft. Lady May)
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.”
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!
‘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
The National Theatre will stage Rehearsing Mwange/Becker, a devised performance piece combining mixed media, puppetry and documentary theatre from 29-31 August 2019, at the Backstage Theatre.
The piece is devised and performed by Sepiso Mwange and Mathias Becker with Dramaturgy by Yasmine Salimi. Nelago Shilongoh is the Dramaturgical Advisor for the piece while Karl Ehlers (aka LOFT) and Martin Amushendje will do the Sound and Video Design, respectively.
Mwange and Becker are rehearsing encounters with each other, themselves and the audience, with their histories, their differences and their common point: theatre. Through the piece, they reflect on their own experiences and the formation of knowledge in the theatre space, seeking to learn more about performative practices.
The theatre-makers investigate theatre as a space of knowledge and how it shapes life: by self-reflection, rethinking the theatre space, and by research about performative practices.
Sepiso has performed in theatre productions such as Broken Butterflies and The Girls in their Sunday Dresses. As a director, she has directed Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun, Striptease by Slawomir Mrozek and Thirty Nine-Step; which she also wrote and produced. Becker, who co-founded Manufaktor with three fellow students, has been working as a puppeteer, actor and director in different constellations since 2014. He also directed Der Affe von Hartlepool at Junges National Theater Mannheimin the 2017/2018 season.
Rehearsing Mwange/Becker is an NTN premiere co-production with the Goethe- Institut (International Co-Production Fund) and is further funded by the Cultural Office Pankow Berlin and Schaubude Berlin.
The show starts at 19h00 on all evenings. General access tickets are available at Computicket for N$100 while student and senior citizen tickets cost N$80.
The National Theatre of Namibia will stage an all-female Namibian musical, Every Woman, under its Director’s Lab Project at the NTN Backstage theatre from 1 to 3 August 2019.
The musical is written & directed by Senga Brockerhoff with Musical Direction by Lize-Leandra Ann Ehlers and Choreography by Nikhita Winkler.
The plot surrounds Grace who is hosting her friend Amelia’s bridal shower with her close friends. Also at the party is Amelia’s pedantic sister Amanda and Grace’s ice-queen boss, Victoria. The women discuss motherhood, men, marriage and all things in between. But later during a drinking game, secrets and resentment pour out which threaten to tear the sisters apart and perhaps even derail the wedding.
The musical features the star-studded cast of JD Januarie as the bride (Amelia), a sensitive soul who’s always tried to do the right thing. Amelia’s overly critical and pedantic sister Amanda played by Senga Brockerhoff, with Chantel ‘Enchante’ /Uiras and Lize Ehlers playing the roles of Grace & Ruth, high school friends of the bride. Grace’s cheeky assistant Frankie is played by Mikiros Garoёs.
Lavinia Kapewasha plays Victoria, a hard-nosed businesswoman who worked her way to the top of the advertising industry, also Amanda & Grace’s boss. Heather ‘Miss H’ Dennis plays Maxine, a florist and childhood friend to the bride, with Jennifer Timbo as Mitzy a free-spirited hippy with great care for the environment and her friends.
Tickets are available from all Computicket outlets nationwide, at N$100-00 for the general public and N$80-00 for Senior Citizens and students (16+). Doors open at 19:00 all three nights. Tickets can also be bought online here.
Two women crawl ashore a bleak rocky island, soaked to the skin, unharmed, they both miraculously survived the capsizing of their rented boat. As they grapple to understand what is happening to them on this otherworldly island, it becomes clear that neither of them have really survived at all.
This is the storyline of British writer Zinnie Harris’s critically acclaimed play Meet Me at Dawn which will be staged at the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) under the direction of Sandy Rudd. The original production received its world premiere at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival where it received 5 stars.
Rudd, who has a reputation for putting up quality productions says the play has a universal appeal as it deals with the complexities of loss and survival.
“It is a subliminal, mysterious experience with a delicate touch, but there is nothing gentle about the grief on display here, it is a tough play dealing with tough questions. Questions we never ask. Arthur Miller said when asked what good theatre is, his answer was, ‘It really is a battle with denial.’ This what it comes down to,” Rudd adds, “the real stage shows you stuff that you didn’t dare want to look at before. The theme is universal it does not restrict itself to a specific audiences. It challenges our own foibles, failures and humanness, which is all of us.”
While it is a well-crafted play, with beautiful depths of human emotions, Rudd says the piece is extremely challenging for the two actors Lara-Lyn Ahrens and Roya Diehl and herself as director.
“As you get to know one layer of the script a new nuanced layer takes its place – it is like peeling an onion, each layer has its own set of tears. You cannot not leave the theatre without appreciating life, love and questioning your own destiny. Rare good art is life affirming, that is what this production does in abundance. It is what we all want out of a good theatre piece,” Rudd says.
On working with Ahrens and Diehl, Rudd says they are committed and are not afraid of the tackling the enormity of the characters they are playing.
“Last year I cast them in a film, Unlikely Encounter, written and directed by Andre Costa and they worked so well together and the chemistry between them is tangible and electric. They asked me to find a difficult show for them to challenge their acting prowess. I found this play and it is doing just that. This beautiful production will realise its potential with them performing and will be as good as any you would see anywhere in the world.
Meet Me at Dawn will premiere on 26 June 2019 in the NTN Mirror Room and will run for two more nights (27 & 28). General tickets are charged at N$150 while own pillow sitting tickets are charged at N$75. The show has an age restriction of 16.
OYO- Ombetja Yehinga Organisation’s 10-member dance troupe will premiere Well Wish Ya, a collaborative multi-media dance production at the National Theatre of Namibia on 27 March 2019.
In 2008, OYO had its first dance project at the National Theatre titled ‘The Namibia Odysseus’. Following the success of that production, OYO got an opportunity to establish the OYO dance troupe in 2009. For ten years now OYO has trained and nurtured young dancers. OYO is the first, and currently only, troupe in Namibia with dancers on its payroll. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, OYO decided to return to the National Theatre with Well Wish Ya.
Well Wish Ya will feature the work of internationally acclaimed visual artist, Kevork Mourad, who is of Syrian/Armenian heritage.
“I am very excited about this collaboration. The OYO group is new to me, so I’ve prepared work based on what I’ve imagined of them. I will complete the piece on the ground with them, incorporating ideas and lines based on their movements and energy. I want to be a vehicle transmitting the history we are talking about,” Kevork said.
The piece will also feature UK-based dancer Elliott Augustine. Elliott is an upcoming dancer currently doing a master in performing arts with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. He is attached to Phoenix Dance Company in Leeds, UK. Credits include Windrush by Sharon Watson, Lord of the flies by Scott Amber and Curtain raiser for sleeping beauty (Matthew Bourne)’ by Lee Smikle.
Joining Elliott and the ten members of the OYO dance troupe will be Nikhita Winkler, West Uarije, Daniel Kuhlmann and LeClue Job. Thirteen students of the Nikhita Winkler Dance Theatre project complete the cast.
Well Wish Ya features a brand new soundtrack by renown Namibian composer Ponti Dikuua. It is produced and choreographed by OYO’s Director, Philippe Talavera.
“Working on such a huge scale dance project is challenging. We want to create something totally new. We look at how the past influences us and how, in turn, our actions will influence future generations. The piece is inspired by the idea of reincarnation and questions whether we always repeat the same pattern or can, as the human race, learn to grow and become better. In the wake of tragedies such as what just happened in New Zealand, observing worldwide – and in Namibia – the growing threat racism poses, this piece will ask important questions. In the past Namibia had to survive a genocide. Nowadays, we fight over greed, corruption, tribalism and homophobia. What legacy are we leaving for our children?” Philippe said.
The production was made possible through financial support from the Prince Claus Fund and sponsorships from Qatar Airways, Londiningi Guest House, DbAudio and the Nikhita Winkler Dance Project.
A free matinee is opened to schools on 26 March. Public performances will take place on 27 and 28 March around 8pm at the National Theatre of Namibia. Tickets are N$120 in advance at Computicket and will be sold for N$150 at the door.
Channelling Franz Kafka’s Red Peter in the play, A Report For An Academy, is not easy according to Adriano Visagie, who will deliver his first one-man show at the College of the Arts Theatre School in Windhoek.
Adriano says the physicality that comes with being ‘Red Peter ‘ and imitating the ape authentically is hard but comes with a lot of fun.
Kafka’s critically acclaimed short story, A Report for an Academy (1917) has been adapted and performed all over the world and will be staged in Windhoek under the direction of David Ndjavera.
Red Peter’s is a story of satire on ‘otherness’ with the notion of civilization and what it means to be human in a world of routinized inhumanity. Red Peter’s story of his former life is revealed as he presents the tale to a top scientific Academy.
“I love the fact that he is very optimistic and inquisitive. He is well educated and shares a lot of knowledge. I wish I had the sarcasm he has; it’s very subtle: if you miss it, you miss it,” Adriano says, talking about his character, Red Peter.
As Namibia is commemorating 29 years of Independence this classic tale of freedom, power and alienation are more current than ever.
A Report For An Academy is on stage 19 and 20 March at the COTA Theatre School. Tickets are charged at N$80 and available at the door. The show starts at 19h30.
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.
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.
‘I am John’ is an hour-long celebration of a great Namibian artist. Yes, I know he is a great man because I have seen the production. It is a celebration of fine art and togetherness. The production easily lived up to its hype.
Rudd and Ehlers delivered what they sold. The entire show had the most terrific combination of raw art and humane elements I’ve ever experienced in a theatre production. As young as I am, I have never fully understood John Muafangejo’s art better; he figuratively told his stories in black-and-white linocuts, with a very strong narrative component, speaking his joy and pain, with the latter seemingly driving his creativity.
Rudd’s production brought Muafangejo’s paintings to live, literally. Schott’s impressive visual undertakings perfectly intertwined with the traditional Oshiwambo hymns which were equally aligned with Oliver’s choreographic deliverance. Despite the, dare I say; tad bit messy choreography, I was able to understand the dramatic and humorous incidents of Muafangejo’s life: He was a lonely man, longing for companionship.
Rudd understood that Muafangejo’s concern was the life and fate of his own Oshiwambo (Kwanyama) people, especially their social and personal conditions and interactions and by carrying this throughout the production, she was able to incorporate religion, love, friendship and reconciliation with big emotions, big melodies and thrilling, yet oddly satisfying dance art which made for a great work of entertainment.
‘I am John’ is truly a celebration of the life and times of John Muafangejo.
Sandy Rudd is back and this time she will be paying tribute to one of Namibia’s finest artists, John Muafangejo.
Having been active in Namibian theatre scene for 35 years, Sandy has a total of 45 productions and 6 international productions under her belt and has won numerous awards on her directorial ability for productions like ‘Meme Mia!’ (Namibian adaptation of Mama Mia!), ‘Complete Works Of Shakespeare’, ‘The Lesson’, ‘Charlie & Chocolate Factory’, amongst many others.
Sandy talks more on her upcoming musical, ‘I am John: A Love Story’:
What inspired you to write this play?
I wanted to do a play on the essence of the great man, look at his work in an abstract way through lighting, dance and original Owambo music. Last Year, during the 30th Anniversary of his death, there was a lot said about him in the papers but not enough other social consciousness, it was then when I thought about doing a play to celebrate him. I approached the National Theatre and they agreed to make it a Premier Production, so with their sponsorship and the sponsorship from FNB the play was realized.
Musician Emmylou Harris once said ‘There is no one who creates music in a vacuum.’ The same could be said for writing a play, a musical, a truly traditional musical celebrating the life of one of Namibia’s great ancestors, one of Namibia’s great fine artists. I have spent a year conceptualizing, writing and thinking about this great man. I have spent hours poring over his 260 prints, all of which are equally beautiful. I have learnt so much from John as the wonderful human being he was. He was a man with no malice, a man who loved humanity hugely, a troubled man who wanted a beautifully finished vision of the world. I have quietly fallen in love with him and have changed the name of the production from LIFE IS INTERESTING to I AM JOHN – A LOVE STORY. This is our love story, for all Namibians. We are all so privileged and honoured to have had this man in our life. I only hope we the amazing cast and crew of I AM JOHN can do him justice.
What can we expect to see in the production?
This production is a fusion of celebrating the visual image with contemporary, traditional dance and music. Occasionally you have these crossroads moments when something completely new is born. This process has been a beautiful thing, it felt like high art in the greatest degree. This is a production that is going to take us to a new place of a beautiful new Namibian consciousness.
What genre of music should we expect in this production?
This is a completely new genre of music it is traditional Oshiwambo fusing with modern riffs and tunes. This is a new genre of Namibian music which has been composed and written with the talents of Musical Director Lize Ehlers, Assistant Musical Director Immanuel Salahoma. Eino ‘Knock Knock’ Kamati’ (traditional Drums), Lahja Magana Lazarus (Traditional Songs) and the St. George’s Choir, with conductor Jolanda Amoraal, Odibo Songs & Hymns, Sally Kauluma. A lot of thought and research has gone into the production, the music would have inspired John, the traditional music of his time. Sally Kauluma lived in Odibo and taught John the songs that were to influence his life and his work. John Muafangejo was a deeply committed Christian. His church was St. George’s Cathedral in Windhoek, hence the use of the choir.
What do music and sound design mean to this play that’s different from other plays?
It is original music, it really is exploring the crossroads of traditional and contemporary sounds, the urban familiar.
What was your biggest challenge working on this play?
The Copyright acquisition has been difficult and it was a long process getting the license to use the images, also a quite expensive one.
Can you tell us more about how you are collaborating with Lize Ehlers as the Musical Director and Haymich Oliver as Choreographer?
Brilliant people! We are a team that compliments and understand each other with much respect and love. This is the over the 7th show we are collaborating on.
What has happened in the rehearsal period so far?
A typical process; I write the script, Lize writes the music, and Haymich and Justine Andres do the choreography. On the 1st of October we move into NTN and bring all the elements together; screens, 5 projectors, live band, 100 piece choir and 7 dancers.
How did you get involved in being a musical director in theatre?
Love at first sight at 4 years old in a musical of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ in Harare Zimbabwe in 1959!
Do you have any advice for a young person who might want to direct a musical?
My mantra is ‘take your passion and make it happen’ if you want it bad enough you will get it!
‘I am John: A Love Story’ will stage for three days (10th to the 12th October 2018) at NTN. Tickets cost N$100. Students and Pensioners can get tickets for N$60. Tickets are available at Computicket.
The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) will stage a musical theatre production in October on the late legendary Namibian Visual Artist John Muafangejo.
‘I am John: The Life & Times of John Muafangejo’ is a musical love story directed by theatre genius, Sandy Rudd with musical direction by award-winning songstress, Lize Ehlers.
Muafangejo was born on 5 October 1943 in Etunda lo Nghadi, Angola and died on 27 November 1987 in the Katutura Township, Windhoek.
He became internationally known as one of the most influential African artists of the 20th century. His work powerfully depicting people and events expressed in black and white imagery – often combine text with images, and contain references to the history and culture of Namibia.
Muafangejo known almost entirely as a printmaker, used a clear and unambiguous language through which he could literally and figuratively tell a story in black-and-white, and there is always a strong narrative component in his work.
Choreography to the upcoming musical is done by Haymich Oliver and Justina Andreas with the St. George’s School Choir.
The dress code to the event is black and white.
The production will stage for three days (10th to the 12th October 2018) at NTN. Tickets cost N$100. Students and Pensioners can get tickets for N$60. Tickets are available at Computicket.
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.
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.
3. When all of your costumes come from your closet.
4. The shows are always low budget.
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.
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.
7. When your blocking is changed every other night and you’re expected to remember which is the latest one.
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.
9. Begging friends to attend performances so seats are filled.
10. Everybody gets undressed in front of each other and don’t even care because you have 30 seconds to change.
Theatre is that second job that takes up all your time but makes you no real money. It is a labour of love!
With the increasing incidents of violence-related activities in the country, it’s pretty easy to draw a link between exposure to violent media and aggressive behaviour and although exposure to violent media is one of those trigger factors for violence, it’s definitely not a trivial one.
Film and theatre cause us to be in greater fear of our surroundings, suggesting, especially to children, that violence is an appropriate way to resolve conflict.
I have seen that individual moral factors of filmmakers and writers tend to discourage violence much more than they do a purchase of their work.
A lot of famous movies are filled with depictions of abuse and manipulation of some kind. However, we don’t go around mimicking everything we see. Be that as it may, no one has the right to go around killing other people. Gender-based violence, in particular, affects people in every corner of the world, and although it can also affect men, it is women and girls who are disproportionately targeted.
Namibia’s film and theatre industry takes a stand against violence, of any kind and urges the government to take serious action:
Sunet van Wyk Actress
“Something seriously needs to change if we want to bring an end to Gender-Based Violence. For me, however, the change doesn’t only lie with police officers doing a better job at handling cases since that will only help ease the symptoms and not cure the cause. In my opinion, the real problem lies much deeper – it lies with mental health. In Namibia, mental illness is still a bit of a taboo topic and something rarely talked about or taken seriously – especially amongst men. One thing is certain though, change needs to happen because enough is enough!”
Denzel Noabeb (NSK) Actor
“I’ve seen calls for heavier sentences to persons found guilty of an offence in the court of law. What exactly will that help? It is a known fact that a prison is not a nice place. Regardless of the fact that it’s a correctional facility now. It’s still not a nice place, but these crimes still continue unabated. Here’s what I always also asked…how is it possible that these crimes are the majority of the times committed by persons who do not have a single record of any violation to their name? Ordinary man and woman of society with no criminal record are committing gigantic crimes. We need to probe our way of life. What makes me a Namibian? What are my customs? What are my traditions? What was I taught growing up in my home? We need to revisit these and understand what in these teachings have caused this seismic social reaction where we cannot deal with our emotions that stem from relationships. Dare I say we need to probe these teachings outside the context of religion. Then we can take it from there. Where the arts comes in…we will continue writing thought-provoking plays about this. We will continue writing songs about this… however, for as long as our theatres are empty, for as long as Namibians prefer South African music as opposed to ours, the message will not reach the masses and all will continue to be lost.”
Desiree Kahikopo Director
“I would say that the rise of violence is because the offenders think and somehow know they can get away with it. I really think Namibia needs t to rethink the justice system and create harsher punishments for those who commit a crime, than 25 years for killing someone. More police presence on the streets, quick responses.”
Adriano Visagie Actor
“Personally feel the rise of Gender-based violence has escalated and through my charity work, which I don’t make public, I had one of the victims at the Gender-Based Violence unit at Katutura and I also wrote a post about it. The lack of service and facilities we have is quite a great concern because My question is; what does a victim do and where do they cry for help? We cannot allow this to continue and I believe the government should jump in. What saddened me about this past few weeks was seeing people march, even Members of Parliament marched. So we march and then what? Members of parliament are supposed to visit these facilities and ask whether they are really accommodating to victims. Imagine how much healing can be done if the government uses Ramatex as a “safe haven” for victims, a case is filed against the perpetrator, these victims get proper counselling by using the unemployed UNAM psychologists and nurses and doctors to assist at this centre. The same counseling can be used on the perpetrator. We are failing victims of gender-based violence.”
Jason Kooper Playwright, Director
“As a theatre practitioner I think a lot has been done in addressing cases of gender-based violence in the country, however, I feel that we need a campaign where victims can get the opportunity to tell their stories. First lady Monica Geingos has started a #BeFree to Break Free campaign which has been tremendously helpful, but I feel that we need to have an open dialogue about these issues, by getting the victims involved, those that would like to talk about their trauma. Also, get organisations like Lifeline/Childline and the GBV crime units in Katutura and other smaller towns. For the future, we need to look at the way we raise our children, especially men. We raise them to be tough and not cry, forgetting that they too are human and they suppress their emotions and don’t know how to handle rejection.”
Philippe Talavera Filmmaker, Choreographer
“The recent increase in GBV is scary but not surprising- violence has become the norm. We see it everywhere. I don’t think we realize anymore what it is. That slapping a child is violent; that pushing someone is violent. We need to rethink ourselves entirely. Many people are frustrated- they can’t make ends meet. They can’t live their dreams. If I have no realisation of dreams, why should I care? Maybe we also don’t have enough positive role models, men who use their hearts and not their fists to solve problems, women who teach their sons that it is OK to cry. I think we need to remind ourselves what it means to live. Life is difficult, but ultimately it is a gift we should cherish, a journey we should enjoy. Our time on earth is too short to live trapped. Let us break free and remember what it means to care for one another.”
Oshoveli Shipoh Filmmaker, Director
“I think as activists against gender-based violence, leading the power for change would be the improvement needed in the Justice system. If we could come together as a nation and campaign for our influential leaders to endorse harsher punishments for offenders, even if it means to amend the constitution. Because every time you pull out bad weeds more will grow in their place, so if you change and cultivate the soil, weeds won’t grow. That soil is our Justice System and it needs huge improvement.”
Zindri Swartz Playwright, Director, Stage Manager
“It’s Horrific to think that GBV still poses a threat within this day and age. Nobody has that right! Safety is and should be fundamental. I personally am among the hopeless. Very little has been done about these inexcusable crimes. The question is; would rehabilitating the perpetrator be sufficient? To an extent, I would say tougher sentences should be imposed. I for one don’t believe in the death penalty but what happens when criminals are forcing our hand? Times are tough and we should stand united protecting one another, supporting and loving as one. Not senselessly killing each other.”
Watch this beautiful “We Are The World,” music video featuring an all-star roster of Broadway theatre artists calling for healing and unity in the world today.
2018 is treating Micheal Pulse well, Id’ say. Some of the award-winning singer-songwriter’s screenplays The White line, The Third Will and ‘The adventures of !Xu and Ndatega’ have been produced, with others set to come to the big screen and TV in the course of the year.
Pulse shares his writing process:
What would you say is your best script to date?
I like to look at my work as kids that have my DNA and with each creation, there is a different mindset, and they all have their own personalities (the work that is). I write an array of content; from TV series’ to kids show and theatre scripts. These are all my best work but at the same time, they all have shortcomings and what if’s attached to them.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on ‘The White Line’?
I got to see how, for the first time, the characters that I envisioned in my head have grown through the process. I saw that I needed time with each and every character’s development and that’s what I have done. In a nutshell, I needed patience. This is important as a writer.
Is ‘The White Line’ centred around racism? Did the script come from a personal place?
The film is not centred around racism. I would like this to be known “It’s about love”. Is a story about two people who fall in love under circumstances that challenges their love. The idea is originally from the Director (Desiree Kahikopo) of the Film who wanted to tell a story that was about “Love, Hope and Forgiveness.”
How many times did you rewrite the script of ‘The White Line’?
Too many times. I think I stopped counting at some point, but the trick is that with each rewrite the story has to somehow become stronger or changed entirely. That’s really what makes the writing process exciting.
Can you explain your re-writing process? Do you look forward to this stage of the process?
I dread this part because this is the moment you share what you think is good with people like editors and co-writers. Trust me, as much as you think your writing has covered everything, someone always points out what you left out which really helps the story along. As a writer, it is important to be open to constructive criticism. BE OPEN, receive, look and learn and rewrite again until everyone, including yourself, is happy with the end result.
Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?
I am a Geek at heart and fantasy and Sci-Fi movies really what get me inspired. Watching movies like Sinbad, Star Wars, Old Greek god movies. Films with magic and unimaginable beings are my cup of tea.
For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?
Network, attend events that you think can make you grow your skills. Take chances and apply to call-outs that are placed newspapers or social media. Always research and lastly, don’t wait for someone to shoot your screenplay, pick up a phone and get creative. You are only as limited as you allow yourself to be.
What experiences from your life influence your characters?
I like to look at life as one of those go-to things for my characters. My family is always the biggest influence in my characters, whether its something as a name or just their personality, I use this and attach it to give my characters a face.
How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?
Very. Like I said my creation is my kids and everything within them is me.
What is the biggest misconception about being a screenwriter?
That you are only limited to a genre or style and that we are not as important as let’s say the director or the actors. Just because we are in the background does not mean we don’t matter. Without writers, there would be no stories told.
What are you currently reading, if you are?
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee and ‘Roots’ by Alex Haley.
The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) continues its premier season with the gripping drama, FENCES, exploring the themes of race, family relations, and inheritances from past experiences.
FENCES, is written by prominent and award winning African-American playwright, August Wilson, and is adapted and directed by Namibia’s Nelago Shilongoh for the Namibian stage.
Set in the ‘post-apartheid’ era, this adaptation concentrates on contemporary Namibian issues and the effects of the colonial experience, particularly the contract labour system, and how it affected the black family dynamic until today.
The production sets to acknowledge a difficult history and grapple with the discussion on the cycles of transgenerational tensions, that have to progressively culminate for generations to come.
Of course, the Namibian Denzel Washington, in this context, will be David Ndjavera, whose theatre background stretches back to 1988 when he first devised and directed his own one man show, ‘The Chameleon.’
Ndjavera’s character in this adaptation, Pele, is a 53-year-old hardworking man who strives to provide for his family and how he attempts to keep them together, in the face of tensions inherited from the colonial experience.
Taking on the role of Pele’s wife, Rosalia, is the versatile Hazel Hinda.
Shilongoh, an award-winning theatre maker is assisted by Victoria Naholo- a writer, theatre maker and aspiring filmmaker.
The play’s choreography is arranged by renowned dancer and choreographer Trixie Munyama, and the dramaturgical process is facilitated by theatre practitioner Ndinomholo Ndilula.The adaptation features prominent Namibian actors including, Lucky Pieters, Blessing Mbonambi, Gift Uzera and Lee-andro Neshila.
Fences will be on stage from 09-10 August 2018, 19h00 at the NTN’s Backstage. The show includes strong content and is restricted to persons under the age of 14 years. This is a must-see production, so hurry on, get your tickets from all Computicket outlets nationwide, at N$100 and N$60 for pensioners and students.
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to call Jenny Kandenge a Jack of All Trades (that’s scum, leading to bad quality of work) but this writer and director have consistency and determination that one needs to last in the Namibian Film and Theatre Industry.
The award-winning playwright’s talent and determination to excel should serve as motivation to many who want to dig in on the pie that is Namibian entertainment industry. She has staged about 4 theatre plays at UNAM and one at the National Theatre of Namibia assisted in directing the upcoming feature film ‘The White Line’ and recently launched ‘Untitled’, a web series she wrote under the direction of Lavinia Kapewasha.
Kandenge recently came back from a 6-month long Film Workshop in South Africa (she also wrote and directed a short film there) and Namib Insider had a talk with her on all things theatre, film and all the quirky details that make her unique.
Talk a bit about your experience at the Workshop you attended in SA earlier this year?
It was life-changing, stressful yet exciting. I wouldn’t trade those 6 months for anything because I learned so much about the film industry. The ups and downs made me stronger and the SA hustle taught me that you have to fight for your dreams.
During the workshop, you worked on a short film. What is it about?
It’s a romance film, very different from most of my work but it was a challenge in itself. The film portrays two different sides of a failed relationship, you see the past and present. I always struggle to explain my work but the film is like Blue Valentine.
What is your greatest achievement in the film industry to date?
I started a film last year but my greatest achievement would be ‘Untitled’, the web series which was recently screened under my production company with Lavinia Kapewasha, Dark Crown Productions.
Which particular filmmaker has influenced you the most?
Issa Rae (America) and Mmabatho Montsho (South Africa).
Would you say your filming style is influenced by them?
No, not really. I’d like to believe that I have my own style and that it is still developing.
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers like yourself?
Do the research and find a mentor, I was fortunate enough to have one of the best directors as a mentor in both film and theatre. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’m still learning myself.
Are you working on more film scripts right now?
Yes, I am. I have a little surprise planned for later in the year.
What projects you are currently working on? Which project is going to release first in the coming days?
I have a play coming in October, nothing anytime soon but I’m excited about that one.
What is it about?
It’s a thriller, of course… It’s about revenge, sisters, poison, murder, kidnapping and it has a major twist. That’s all that I’m saying right now.
What are some bad habits that you’ve seen actors develop that you’ve had a hard time dealing with?
Actors thinking that they know everything 🙄 you never stop learning.
Was there ever a show you directed that was miscast? In other words, have you ever regretted casting certain people for certain roles? Or have you been pretty spot on in your casting?
So far I have been pretty spot on in my casting, I would rather spend a month getting the right actor to play a character than just cast the next person. Thank goodness I don’t have any miscasts to date.
Difficult as it is, what is your favourite play?
‘The Nut House’ hands down.
This ‘n That
On what do you spend the most: clothes, accessories, perfume, underwear, or anything else?
Food and notebooks, I have a weird obsession with buying notebooks.
What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
‘500 Days of Summer’ by Marc Webb and ‘Closer’ by Mike Nichols. Yes, I like romance movies, you’d think it a would-be thriller.
What’s wrong but sounds right?
I don’t know, I’m gonna pass that question.
What’s the best/worst practical joke that you’ve played on someone or that was played on you?
When I was on ‘The White Line’ feature film, one particular day, one of the producers called me, being all serious. The entire time I was panicking, thinking I had done something wrong, turned out he was trying to freak me out. I’m yet to get them back for doing that shit to me.
Who do you go out of your way to be nice to?
No one. I treat people the way they treat me, but generally, I try to be respectful to everyone I meet.
What “old person” things do you do?
I love drinking tea even in the heat. I knit sometimes and I’m very forgetful, the reason why I have so many notebooks and sticky notes to remind me of things I have to do.
Should kidneys be able to be bought and sold?
What’s something you really resent paying for?
Contact lenses, glasses, pads and tampons. Like why?!
What was the most unsettling film you’ve seen?
‘Blade Runner’ by Ridley Scott. I had to watch it four times before I completed it. I couldn’t understand it, yet I kept watching.
When was the last time you face palmed?
I do that every day… so today?
Which of your vices or bad habits would be the hardest to give up?
Overthinking, stressing and I have this thing of biting my lips when nervous. This is not a good thing when I have lipstick on…
Where are you not welcome anymore? Why?
I’m welcome everywhere or so I think.
What fashion trend makes you cringe or laugh every time you see it?
I don’t keep track of fashion trends honestly, that’s a full-time job.
So, did you like answering my long list of questions?
They were a lot, but it was fun answering them. They were very random though…
Public Relations Officer at the National Theatre of Namibia, Desiree Mentor answers frequently asked questions about the institution. Thank me later:
Who pays for the productions?
NTN in most cases funds its own productions/projects, and in some instances with assistance of sponsorships from corporates.
How are the plays selected?
All projects are collected through a call for submission of scripts (usually done towards the end of the year) and a panel of judges are in place to help choose plays based on the set criterion. The criterion among other things include, story-line, relevancy of the story, well-formed characters, good use of language and entertainment value etc.
Do you have a set number of plays staged every year?
It Depends on the scripts received and also whether there are sufficient budgetary provisions.
For 2018, how many plays has NTN staged so far and how many more are coming for 2018?
NTN staged two plays so far, and still have about three more to stage in this year.
Where can information on Auditions/Current shows be found?
Audition notices are mostly done through our social media platforms ( Facebook, Twitter, Instragram) and the website (which is currently under construction). We would also print posters and distribute through town, and mainly places such as the College of the Arts, UNAM Drama department etc.
NTN Tickets can only be bought via Computicket. Why?
Yes, NTN is a Computicket outlet, which means tickets for all our productions area available online, and nationwide at all shoprite/checkers outlets, which makes it accessible for everyone national and internationally. Also this way, we are able to avoid fraudulent activities.
Can an audience member take photos in the theater before, during or after a performance?
Audiences are in most cases welcome to take pictures, before and after a performance. In order for any audience member to take pictures during a performance, it can only be done so with written permission from the producers of the particular show. This is done in most cases to help protect the artists’ intellectual property. In the event permission is granted it is highly recommended (almost mandatory) that it is done so, without flash. Flash photography can distract, or even temporarily blind the performers and crew. The experience of attending theatre begins the moment you walk into the auditorium.
What is the National Theatre’s most successful show, to date?
The Theatre hosted many many shows, nationally and internationally throughout the years, perhaps I can mention the most memorable one, in my time with the theatre was Trevor Noah’s stand up comedy show that had to be extended, due to public demand, for two more days after a week’s show was sold out in a few days.
What is the worst thing that’s ever gone wrong during a production?
I would not term it worse, maybe the strange pleasures of live theatre, but to share one incident I witnessed during my time with the theatre: At one dance performance a few years back, the theatre roof starting leaking and a few rain drops (not life threatening) were showering on the performers….But as the saying goes… the show must go on, so the show went on!!! The roof was eventually fixed after that. This was somewhat understandable as the theatre building itself have been around for years, since November 1959, to be exact.
What are the NTN Box Office hours?
Our Box office hours, are from 08h00-14h00 and 15h00-17h00, from Monday- Friday. Although currently it is temporarily closed, until we find a replacement for our Box Office Person who resigned. Patrons can still buy tickets, online at Computicket Or at any shoprite/checkers outlet nationwide.
Are food and drinks allowed in the theatre?
No food and drinks are allowed in the theatre, except for bottled water.
What is NTN’s refund or exchange policy?
We do not do any refunds, however ticket exchanges (for only NTN productions) can be done, 14 days prior the first performance/s.
Does NTN offer discounts?
For all NTN productions, discounts are offered to children, students & pensioners).
Does NTN have any programs/workshops that encourage involvement in the theatre?
We have a lot of projects that encourage involvement in the theatre, I will highlight a few:
The main aim of this project is to develop ‘New audiences’ and provide children with new entertainment experience and space. The program also inculcates the love for arts among the children and further contributes toward life-long learning and skills development. To convey educational messages to children using a popular and comprehensive medium: “Theatre for Education” and ultimately to plant a seed for a future audience for the theatre.
This program transforms to stage grade 11 and 12 literature set work for the schools. This process enables the learners to better understand the often complicated texts of prescribed work. The productions are performed at the NTN and engage teachers in practical discussion of the content with the learners and the cast.
This is a skills development program aimed at capacity building and empowerment. The program involves identifying and developing new theatre practitioners with potential in scriptwriting, directing and acting and culminates into a production fully funded by NTN through a mentorship program that offers creative support to the participants.
The main aim of this project is to challenge experienced Namibian Theatre Practitioners with the opportunity to engage with internationally recognised stories/scripts and bring those experiences to the NTN stage for Namibian audience.
How long are the performances?
Each production normally has its own time; it can range from an hour – 3hour productions.
Does NTN offer volunteering opportunities?
Volunteering, as in you offer your services to the NTN for free, in exchange for some work experience? I am sure that can be done, however through our HR department. The NTN also offers internship opportunities to students (from the College of the Arts and other higher institutions) when there is an opportunity available, again students will have to request via our HR department at firstname.lastname@example.org
What determines NTN’s ticketing?
Prices are set internally, and a lot of things are considered, among others the cost of production.
(Featured Image: by Vilho Nuumbala- Performance of Eenganga: Translations & Trance Formation)
Having returned recently from a residency program in Germany, writer, artist, theatre practitioner, Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja has deepened his research and practice intersects on activism and movement formation.
Mushaandja strongly believes theatre can help us polish our skills to be disciplined and reading theatre-makers. He says arts education, in general, is an important field that is generally undermined in Namibia. As a scholarly-artist, Mushaandja is always concerned not only at how many formally and informally trained artists we have, but also the low level of art knowledge production locally.
(Image: Tina Schoenheit – performance of Odalate na iteke [opo kegonga kuye oshigongoti] at the Hamburg Ethnological Museum, Germany.)
“It’s not just about studying theatre and performance, it is also about producing and documenting knowledge that is relevant to the local context and obviously decolonizes,” Mushaandja says.
He sheds more light on the survival of theatre and writing in the Namibian context:
1. How realistic should a theatre production look?
I am not a fan of realistic productions because I feel that Namibian mainstream theatre is often stuck in this realism thing. Perhaps there is no one answer to this question because theatre is a creative praxis and every theatre maker has a different approach. I am however a fan of theatre that is deeply authentic to its context. I am a fan of theatre that breaks the rules of conventional theatre that transgressed boundaries, the theatre that is interdisciplinary and offers a new language of African theatre. This is not to say that theatre that does not do this is not realistic or good, this is mere preference. In general, theatre must help us connect, heal, imagine and transform our society.
2. Is it important to always keep producing new ideas or is it best to exploit existing ideas?
Absolutely new ideas. Especially for the Namibian context and where it finds itself 28 years of ‘freedom’. I always argue that freedom is not reflecting on our learning and culture. There has been a lot of recycling of old and foreign ideas. Old ideas can also be useful if approached with new energy and innovation.
3. Why should we care about the arts?
Imagine a world without the arts. I don’t wanna live in that world.
4. What are your thoughts on contemporary Namibian theatre?
(Image by Britta Hars – performance of Mind your own closet at the Brazillian Cultural Centre in Maputo Mozambique)
It has come a long way. Having spent over 10 years in local theatre now, it is good to see audiences change and grow. I love that it is youth-driven. But something is to be said about the disappearing veterans of the theatre. What happens to most of them? Namibian theatre lacks innovation and critical engagement. I am still looking to see work that does not necessarily follow conventions of the black box. Theatre that is not script-based or top-down. Where is the theatre that explores new forms of publicness? Where is the cutting edge work?
1. What, in your opinion, is the great Namibian Screenplay/Stage play of the last decade?
I don’t have one yet. There are many:
• Eenganga: Translations & Trance Formation which was my MA creative research work.
• Tselane & The Giant by Veronique Mensah
• The State of Citizenshi.ph.t by myself & Oupa Sibeko
• Anima by First Rain Dance Theatre
• Ovakwanaidi by Tuli Mekondjo
2. What are the elements of a good play?
A play that shows authenticity, locality, participation, agency, transformation, voice, disruption, and openness, border crossing, vulnerability, critical consciousness.
3. What would you most like to see young writers learn from the writers of the past that you feel is lacking today?
(Image: by Valide Hidinua & Mathews Abraham – performance of The Ghetto is not our home at the Old Location Cemetery and Penduka, Goreangab Dam)
I think both can learn from each other and other writers beyond our borders. Especially when it comes to creating innovating work. I have seen a lot of work that leans towards western productions instead of texts that are influenced by our indigenous backgrounds in terms of content, form and concept. I think writers need more support spaces. Both College of the Arts and University of Namibia arts courses do not offer writing at the moment and this is worrying. Writing education is not diverse enough. Namibian texts are poorly archived and not published especially in the last decade.
4. What’s the first hook that gets a new play started for you? Is it an image, a theme, a character?
The concept. I love conceptual thinking because it creates open spaces for ideas to flow freely beyond the text. Plays that challenge traditional forms. Plays that are deeply embedded in their indigenous cultures. Plays that are process-based instead of a product or finished texts that can be thrown in the dust bin during the rehearsal process because they were only there to start the process. Texts that allow both actors and audience to re-write.
4. Who are some current creators you follow and think should get more attention?
More makers than playwrights. Performance Artists such as Veronique Mensah, Tuli Mekondjo, JuliArt, Dorothee Munyaneza (Rwanda) & Ogutu Muraya (Kenya).
5. What do you think are the main obstacles they face to getting wider recognition?
Accessing wider audiences and international markets because we are isolated from the rest of the world as an industry. Again, I wanna highlight our education system and how it is failing our children. There aren’t enough publishers and residencies for writers. My dream is to actually start an informal learning and culture space for writers and performers to cover industry gaps that are not considered by existing institutions.
7. If you could change just one thing about the Namibian theatre industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
I’d pay artists more and we would have an on-going theatre. Theatre makers would be making work non-stop and there would be more exploration of unconventional spaces like site-specific theatre and public art. In my ideal world, theatre and performance education is decolonized.
8. What writing themes intrigue you?
I feel like we lost resistance culture as a nation. Or rather, it is displaced. In my processes, I touch on healing and transformation. Anything that fights Heteropatriarchy, racism, ableism, Afrophobia, capitalism, is my cup of tea.
9. People say theatre in Namibia is expensive. What is your take on this?
I think when people say theatre is expensive, they just mean that it is not accessible. I have this idea I’m currently developing that argues that theatres and museums are not built for living bodies, they are built for dead bodies. Artists are poorly paid because the theatre needs to cover their expenses, so artists are just used as objects. Institutions are violent. Indigenous African theatre was not always in some building isolated from the world, it was vulnerable to split-focus and disruption. I am a proponent on the education of both artists and the public about the importance and relevance of theatre.
Namibia Theatre and Film award-winning actor, radio host, full-time banker, and media personality, Adriano Visagie’s film, ‘Salute’, will be showcased in Amsterdam next month. In the film, written and directed by Phillipe Talavera for OYO, Adriano plays Charlito, a young prisoner who needs to make difficult choices in prison, not knowing whether life was better in or out of prison.
Namib Insider sat down with Adriano to get a glimpse of his professional and personal life:
Who are your favourite actors?
Locally – David Ndjavera
Internationally – Meryl Streep and Eddie Redmayne.
These are actors I feel have had challenging roles that they portrayed well. I can only imagine myself doing such great roles as well.
Which roles would you say were the hardest they’ve ever played?
David Ndjavera – ‘A monkey in a cage’ a UNAM drama piece.
Meryl Streep – ‘The Devil wears Prada’
Eddie Redmayne – ‘The Danish Girl’
What would be your dream role? What fun would you bring to it?
I believe every role I do challenges me and allows me to learn, however, a challenge would be to do a series. I would love to take up a challenge like that or a solo role where I am a drug addict or murderer.
Tell me about your first time acting.
I starred as an extra in ‘Meme Mia’ the ‘Mama Mia’ adaptation by Sandy Rudd. That was my first time being on the National Theatre of Namibia stage prior to doing High School and church productions. I then got cast in ‘Lammie Beukes’ adapted by Senga Brockerhoff where I played ‘Wouks’ a deadbeat, drug dealing father. I think after that I knew this was my thing. As they say; ‘that’s when the acting bug bit me…’
Any advice to aspiring actors?
If you want to pursue acting know that it’s a lot of work, if it doesn’t challenge you or if you don’t enjoy being at rehearsal then don’t do it. Acting requires a lot of discipline and dedication.
What is a fact people might not know about you?
I like the characters I portray on stage. It brings out the person I never knew existed. *giggles
When was the last time you had a really good night’s sleep?
WOW! Well, this normally happens when I go on vacation as my mind is always occupied. I had a vacation with my family in March 2018.
What’s your favourite food?
I love anything with chicken, pasta and pesto.
What are your thoughts on Namibia’s film and theatre industry?
We have a lot of room for development especially to those who want to venture into film and theatre full time. I think our awards should be celebrated yearly as opposed to every second year, but then again we do not have a lot of local theatre shows.
Thoughts on the pay rate of theatre actors?
With the paying rate we are currently getting one would be thankful to the NTN productions as they cater to a lot of stuff like from transport, to financing productions. However if corporates would scrutinize local talent and invest in Namibian actors we can definitely earn more, this includes royalties of productions, etc.
Who is your favourite director/producer in Namibia? Name only one.
In Namibia, one is impossible – but I love working with theatre director, Tanya Terblanche. She allows you to explore your character.
If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
I would like to see an older version of South African Novelist and Singer, Nakhane Toure, sit in a chair and do a rendition of my life story depicting it in a film to a younger audience, with the ‘I am Adriano’ theme.
What’s your ultimate dream as an actor?
I would like to wake up every day, finish my radio show, head to production meetings and spend my afternoons in theatre doing repetitions of scripts and teaching theatre. Overall, being on Broadway is definitely a dream.
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
I go through my script. If I have a co-actor I would try to perfect lines with them as one always wished you had one more chance to perfect a scene.
What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage/before the curtain goes up?
I pray and before the curtain goes up I yawn, it helps to keep me in character.
You recently did JustTina (Tribute Show to Tina Turner). How was that experience like?
Out of this world. It’s not what I expected, in terms of having people from all walks of life. We literally only had 9 days of marketing and sold out. Being Tina made me realize that being a woman and portraying certain characters of a woman isn’t easy. Lashes, heels, wigs, boobs ….LORDT! So it was an overwhelming but fun experience.
Was this your first time in Drag?
No! I did an “Alaska” (American Drag Queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race and Scared Famous) at Gay Pride parade in June last year.
Would you get in Drag again?
How did your family react to you getting in Drag?
My family always supports my craft moreover they loved it. They loved what #JustTina stood for in terms of fighting and breaking the stigma around GBV.
The one man play, headlined by actor, Denzel Leroy //Naobeb, affectionately known as NSK, aims to encourage the audience to start taking their families into consideration when indulging in their vices.
‘Hi, I am Joe!’ addresses the issue of family conditions and relationships that have a tendency to enable alcoholics.
The actor who has done five productions so far, encourages open minded individuals to come see him do his first ever one man show.
“If you are not the type of person who enjoys experiencing new things and opt to remain in your little comfortable box, this is not for you,” NSK says.
In particular, NSK calls on all managers that are in charge of signing off sponsorship cheques at South African Multinational companies ‘who makes millions from Namibia per day and shy away from investing in the local arts industry’ to come see the production.
Talking about his character, Joe, NSK says they are not similar as he has always been the ‘responsible’ one.
His favourite line of dialogue is: “It is only when they are ditched, that they come to me…complaining. Do I look like an ABC? An Alcohol Bureau of Complaints!”
Set in the modern age, the play is relevant. Alcoholism has often been a trait that makes up dysfunctional families. Having an alcoholic family member very often disrupts the healthy family dynamic, creating a host of problems that lead to dysfunction.
The play, produced by Township Productions is written and directed by well-know theatre mentor, playwright and director, Joseph Keamogetsi Molapong.
So why wait? Get your ticket at the College of The Arts Theatre School and go watch the production from 6-8 June 2018. A ticket sells for N$80.