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The Spier Arts Trust Summer Season 2005/6 celebrates a decade of artistic talent

Press release

From December 2005 until the end of March 2006 the Spier Arts Trust Summer Season enters into its 10th year, with a programme that promises to showcase top- quality productions.

Says Annebelle Schreuder, Artistic Director of the Spier Arts Summer Season, "This year's programme reflects the high-quality work being produced by South African performing artists today. To celebrate our 10th year we are looking forward to the next ten years. We plan to launch a ten-year Sculpture Garden project by mid-2006 and to extend arts projects beyond the summer season."

The festive season Spier hosts The Shaolin Monks presented by Real Concerts. A group of Buddhist monks provide a spectacular show of mental discipline and physical strength. The Wheel of Life broke all attendance records at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg and will entertain Cape Town audiences with a display of some of the world's greatest martial arts (6-11 and 13-18 December 2005).

Christmas would not be the same without the famous Richard Cock Sunset Christmas Carols exclusively for Spier this year. Massed choirs form the backdrop against the Helderberg Mountains on the banks of the Eerste River while myriads of voices sing a variety of African songs as well as the favourite well-known carols (18 December 2005).

Keeping South Africa close to its heart, NataniŽl presents a brand new show entitled Imagine a King, presented by Sarie. He will host various artists, from our very own divas Judith Sephuma and Lindiwe Alam, to a selection of others, all in all providing a collaboration of unique voices with inspirational songs for the festive season (20-23 December 2005).

Cape Town City Ballet presents Queen at the Ballet, choreographed by Sean Bovim and conducted by Michael Hankinson. The popular Luciano Zuppa and Duncan Royce perform Freddy Mercury's vocals and the show also stars Zanne Stapelberg and Aviva Pelham. Gavin Rajah and Malcolm Kluk, amongst others, add to the set design with a visually striking array of costumes (24-28 and 31 January and 1 February 2006).

From ballet, the programme moves to the DDK Lyric Festival, with the lyric group Dimpho Di Kopane performing in their new venue at the Lynedoch Eco Village. This vibrant, passionate cast will blow you away with three productions: Ikumkanikazi yeKhephu (The Snow Queen), a South African version of the Hans Christian Andersens' fairytale, Yiimimangaliso (The Mysteries), and Ibali looTsots (The Beggar's Opera) (24-28 January, 31 January - 4 February 2006).

The Spier Arts Trust presents The Spier Open Air Poetry Festival curated by Antjie Krog. This is a new, emotional, rhetoric part of the programme and incorporates many established as well as new poets and writers. Audiences can expect to hear the best English and Afrikaans poetry, spine-tingling Xhosa praise poems, and rap. Poets will perform with bands and bands will use poetry in this mind-challenging festival (3-4 February 2006).

Opera at Spier, presented by Nedbank, comprises a Spier Arts Trust commission of Pulcinella, a new opera by Martinus Basson and Princess Magogo. "Pulcinella" is an Italian baroque melody by Igor Stravinsky, and Marthinus Basson creates a new production of "Ballet with song". Conducted by Xandi van Dijk, the cast includes dancer Mark Hoeben and soprano Zanne Stapelberg (10, 11 and 16-18 February 2006).

Princess Magogo ka Dinuzulu is an opera based on the true story of the noble princess of the Zulu nation, Princess Magogo, whose musical talents inspired and influenced her people during the early 20th century. Audiences will be graced by the powerful voice of Sibongile Khumalo, who is one of the world's leading mezzo-sopranos. The music is composed by Mzilikazi Khumalo, and provides the show with a feast of singing, dancing and drumming. Stunning costumes and set design form an exhilarating backdrop to this must-see show (24-26 February 2006).

The Spier Arts Summer Season would not be the same without resident playwright, Brett Bailey, producing another acclaimed interactive theatre drama, Orfeus. The Greek myth of Orpheus tells of the shamanistic journey of an inspired poet-musician into the Underworld. Orpheus is seeking his wife, Eurydice, who had died from a snake-bite. His music was said to bring harmony to all nature. This production is set in a contemporary-mythical African world, where Orfeus takes you on a cross-country adventure of your imagination (14-19 and 21-26 February 2006).

Nedbank again presents The African Giants Festival, featuring David Kramer's Karoo Kitaar Blues, Hugh Masekela and The Paul Hanmer Retrospective. David Kramer's Karoo Kitaar Blues takes the audience on an unforgettable South African journey, showcasing the talents of eccentric Karoo and Namaqualand musicians (3, 4, 9, 10 and 11 March 2006). Hugh Masekela, in true African giant style, will entrance you with his trumpet and reinforce his reputation as a real African giant (5 March 2006). Jazz fundi Paul Hanmer, along with a guest list of 30 leading South African musicians, including Louis Mhlanga, Marcus Wyatt and Kevin Gibson, will captivate you with his breathtaking jazz piano pieces (17-19 March 2006).

Jay Pather, acclaimed director, comes to Spier with a programme entitled Home by the Siwele Sonke Dance Theatre. The home is a universal symbol of safety and comfort, but Jay questions this assumption as he portrays this cutting-edge dance performance, which is a mix of Shembe, traditional Zulu dance, ballet and contemporary dance (16, 17 March 2006).

The Just So Stories bring the remarkable talents of Ballet Theatre Afrikan together to perform Rudyard Kipling's much-loved Just So stories. This collaborative performance involves dancers, musicians, singers and actors and is a must for the whole family (30-31 March and 1 April 2006).

Spier, in its quest to "discover talent", has brought together two outstanding attractions under the umbrella of The Spier Discover Stage. Simphiwe Dana, often likened to Miriam Makebe, will perform some of her work (26 March 2006), while South Africa's favourite up-and-coming band Freshly Ground will rock you away with their infectious rhythms (25 March 2006).

To close the season, the Spier Arts Trust and composer Philip Miller host an experimental lecture about the TRC Cantata, which is a work-in-progress musical and a literary investigation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ten years on. This work aims to celebrate the human spirit which rose above the horror of apartheid. It includes the spoken word and traditional African and contemporary music. It promises to be an unforgettable and emotional theatrical experience (29 March 2006).

About the Trust
The Spier Arts Trust produces and promotes South African cultural events and productions of excellence and innovation and gives inspiration and expression to the diverse histories and cultures of the Cape and Africa. Its vision is to work in partnerships to build new audiences and provide opportunities for the appreciation of artistic talent locally, nationally and internationally.

LitNet: 16 November 2005

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