Vavasati International Festival in full swing at State Theatre

By CityLife Arts Writer

The annual popular women themed festival Vavasati International Festival is back at the State Theatre, and this time around, just like in the previous years before the disruption of Covid-19, it features interesting acts and other equally interesting activities associated with this hugely successful festival.

The festival kicked off on Thursday, November 25, 2021, and will run until 15 December 2021 under banner The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: 16 Days of Activism – Moving from Awareness to Accountability which is the national theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign.

The launch on Thursday comprised of keynote speeches and uncomfortable discussions on burning issues affecting women in the society, while songstress BuhleBendalo Mda and poet Suzan Skhosana gave performances. This iteration of the festival takes place as the latest crime statistics show an increase in rapes, domestic violence, women and children abduction and child murders in the country. The featured works, artists and workshops will highlight and raise awareness on these devastating pandemics using the artistic torch.’

Addressing guests at the launch, Curator of the festival Nompumelelo Skhosana said: “It is befitting that we open the festival on the same day as the 16 days of activism against the abuse of women and children is being launched. The productions that applied to be part of this festival had a common theme of Gender Based Violence. This was a cry out. Now, look where we are today. This festival is engineered for and by women to provide a creating space for women to tell their stories.”

It is tradition that Vavasati annually takes place during Women’s Month, August. But, due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during the month this year, the festival was consequently postponed. The festival’s name, Vavasati, a Xitsonga word meaning women, emphasizes the power and strength that women possess when united in the face of adversity. The theatre created a festival of this magnitude to widen access to spaces and theatre resources to female artists.

Her-Story was written when 20 000 South African women, of all races, from all backgrounds, united and marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August in 1956, to defy pass laws. This year marked the 65 years of that strong threat of feminine unity which still inspires young women to hold the knife at the sharp edge, collectively and creatively embrace the significance of not being silenced.

Full Line Up for the 8th Vavasati International Festival includes:

COLORED (visual art exhibition) by Mmatshepo Rakhalakane. 28 November – 04 December.

This exhibition portrays stories about how women come into the world as only blank canvases, and it (life) fills them with color (experiences). “The more we live trying to figure out our purpose of life, is the more colored we become. There is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity,” says visual artist Mmatshepo Rakhalakane, who will debut this solo exhibition at the festival.

THETHA (dance) choreographed and directed by Mandilakhe Gwashu. 30 November to 02 December.

THETHA is about 4 women from various parts of the Eastern Cape who have different lifestyles but all on a journey of self-discovery. They all have one thing in common, they are not happily married but they respect the vows they made even though they are in abusive marriages. Gwashu, who also experienced an unhappy marriage says THETHA “encourages women to SPEAK OUT about their problems they have in relationships and marriages.”

BOFELO BAMADI (drama) directed by Thandi Msini. 07 to 09 December.

In a dark time where being a woman in South African is either a crime or curse, women stand together in the battle of freeing themselves from the dark age they face. Bofelo Bamadi is a cry for help! It takes audiences on a journey that reveals the traumatic incidents of gender-based violence in South Africa, which ironically surged during 2019 Women’s Month. The play echo voices and statements made by South Africans in social media platforms and poses the question “#AmINext”?

HERSTORY MUSEUM (drama) directed by Nonkululeko Mashiyi. 10 to 12 December

Herstory Museum celebrates and uncovers the history of black women whilst looking to observe, learn and decolonize where information about making choices linked to our identity comes from (this ranges from religious/ cultural beliefs to the way in which we carry ourselves). Will she find herself and be able to find her way out?

SAST YOUTH CHOIR (music) 10 December

A music direction by Mandla Ntlaks, SAST Youth Choir sings and performs a variety of music on stage. Founded in 2016, the choir consist of singers from the City of Tshwane and surrounding areas. Majority of them are still students who are studying in the fields of Arts and Culture, looking at pursuing careers in music and performance.

IZIBAZI ZOMENDO (drama) directed by Mbali Ndlozi. 13 to 15 December.

Set in Pimville, Soweto, Izibazi Zomendo explores a dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship caused by the mother’s perseverance for domestic violence. Its story focuses on the wounds inherited by children who grew up in abusive homes, witnessing their mothers endure and tolerate abuse from the men they love- How mothers choose their men and/or marriage over their children, and not realizing that they bring into existence emotional scars by staying with these men.

GBV Workshop 13-15 December 2021

A workshop and seminar aimed at empowering women. Regardless of age, race or background, there will be something for everyone. Including tips and tools about beauty, health & fitness, finance, family, and overall well-being.

Vavasati shows are charged at R100 except for the exhibitions and workshops which are free. Tickets can be purchased at Webtickets, available online, Pick n Pay stores, or at the SAST’s box office.

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