5th Vavasati International Women Festival

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The South African State Theatre will be home to the fifth (5th) Annual Vavasati International Festival from 14 August to 2 September.

Curated by the internationally renowned playwright, poet and director, and SAST Deputy Artistic Director Napo Masheane, under the theme “Flowers of the Revolution” – a term of endearment given to the women of MK by the commander-in- chief of MK, comrade president Oliver Reginald Tambo.

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“This August we want to make sure that all “Flowers of the Revolution” are given opportunities to tell beautiful stories not only to our children, but also to those that are clouded with strength in the face of gendercide. We owe these stories to our ‘her-story’ and at least our future generations,” said Mashiane.

The festival’s name “Vavasati’ is a Xitsonga word meaning ‘women’, to reiterate the power and strength that women possess when they unite. In addition, SAST created a women’s festival to give accessibility to space and theatre resources to women artists whose names do not appear in any theatre history books, like the 20 000 women of all races and backgrounds who marched to Union Buildings against pass laws on 9 August in 1956. State Theatre will recognise these heroes and heroines whose names are not etched on any monument or heritage infrastructure, so that their significant creative work can be a force within the South African land scape.

Vavasati Festival this year will launch on 14 August with activities involving an exhibition by an Italian photographer, Rosetta Messori, whose images testify to a strong narrative tension and at the same time, an overwhelming pictorial vocation. She is known for her own personal artistic research on the relationship between ‘Space Time and Energy’, mainly through analogue photography. ‘Gug’Othandayo’ group of elderly women will perform the popular Tsonga traditional dance of ‘Xibelani’ with the SAST Female Choir. The musician Petros Mashaba will be representing the voices of men as he delivers his renditions to honour and celebrate all women on the night. The festival will then proceed with presentations of drama, poetry, Jazz, exhibitions and workshops by various women in the arts till 2 September.

“This August, we want ‘Vavasati International Festival’ to unburden these sacred and gallant memories through different voices of works that relate to female story lines. These can be seen or witnessed in various plays, shows, workshops, exhibitions, high-tea themes, flea markets and artistic activities; giving audiences a window into what women artists are creating, thinking of, writing about and take note of the remarkable achievements of women in theatre,” said Mashiane.

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