Art platform to celebrate people with disabilities

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South Africa’s premier Integrated Arts Platform will celebrate the International Week for People with Disability from 28 November – 2 December at Artscape Theatre. They will be presenting works by artists with mixed abilities (with and without disabilities) and from mixed genres (music, dance, drama, visual art, etc.)

New World Dance Theatre Trainees
New World Dance Theatre Trainees

This year’s Unmute ArtsAbility Festival’s theme is ABILITY, presented by Unmute Dance Company in association with Artscape Theatre Centre, the end product of residencies and workshops during the months of October and November. Professional artists and/or arts & culture organisations (dancers, actors, musicians, visual artists, photographers, film-makers) in collaboration with people and/or artists with various impairments (blind, deaf, intellectual, physical and psycho-social) will research and investigate in rehearsal studios “what ability means” for people who are stereotypically perceived as ‘unabled’.

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The jam-packed festival will kickstart on 28 November at 19:30 with the launch (open to the general public) to be followed by stunning French duet performance TORDRE by Rachid Ouramdane, brought by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Alliance Française du Cap. Rachid Ouramdane (world renowned dance-maker) sets out to achieve the documentary feel which has brought him international popularity with a register of a modest disclosure and a patient and delicate staging of confidences. TORDRE probes the delicate place where movement wavers between poetry and testimony was first performed in 2014. It is a story of the Lithuanian dancer Lora Juodkaite who, spinning dizzingly on the spot, has developed her own way of moving which has accompanied her since childhood. It also features British dancer Annie Hanauer, moving with an articulated prosthetic arm which is at the same time both an extension and an integral of her body.

Audiences on 29 November at 19:30 will witness a collaboration of two dance pieces “Access Me” and “Nothing Makes Sense”. Access Me, performed by Yaseen Manuel, Nadine Mckenzie, Rae Classen and Andile Vellem and choreographed by company members of Unmute Dance Company, is a photo story and short film by Darkroom Contemporary formed through documenting ideas and emotions around accessibility and hopes to communicate real opinions about what accessibility means. Nothing Makes Sense, performed by Thulani Chauke and Lionel Ackerman and choreographed by Thulani Chauke and Unmute Dance Company, is an interrogation of violence with a specific focus on the violence that emerges because of our continued human obsession with systems of classifications based on sex, race, gender, sexuality, class culture and physical ability.

On 1 December at 12:00, we celebrate the International Day for Persons with Disabilities – a day for everybody to create awareness of the abilities of persons with disabilities. It includes a fun and exciting programme aimed at South African youth. Unmute has given a performance platform to their education programme which will witness learners and dancers with mixed abilities (disabled and non-disabled dancers) being integrated through the performing arts. Taking part in the production will be Astra School, Dominican School for the Deaf, New World Dance Theatre Trainees, Jazzart Dance Theatre Trainees, Jika Madinga Trainees and Access Me by Unmute Dance Company. The free event will be followed by “Ability Talk”, an open discussion with a panel of influential people with disabilities who will be discussing their achievements and struggles.

The festival will then wrap up with a fine showcase of professional works by “Unmute & Friends” which is aimed at creating friendships beyond the borders that separate us. This event will be held on 2 December at 19:30. Taking the stage will be Sibonelo Dance Project, (Un)shared (by Day Apart Dance Collaboration), Nothing Makes Sense (by Thulani Chauke and Lionel Ackerman) and Access Me (by Unmute Dance Company).

This 6-day festival is inclusive of theatre performances, site-specific performances, artistic installations, exhibitions, film screenings, seminars and disability walks.

Tickets for all productions (R25 for scholars, R25 for pensioners and students and R50 for the general public) are available via Computicket or Artscape-Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695.

To win tickets to the performance of TORDRE on 28 November, email themba@sceproductions.co.za by 12pm on 10 November 2017 with Subject Line: TORDRE

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