The partnership between the Alexander Bar in Cape Town and POPArt in Johannesburg grows with six shows trading cities for two weeks.
Launched in December 2015, POPupstairs was started as a partnership between Johannesburg’s POPArt Theatre and The Alexander Upstairs theatre in Cape Town. The partnership was created to facilitate connections between fringe theatre spaces in order to create a sustainable fringe network for touring productions, and to share the work of artists in each city.
While the first season was initially funded by the productions themselves, the National Arts Council of Southern Africa came on board with partial funding to subsidise the 2016/ 2017 seasons of POPupstairs – and as such the partnership has grown. The first season took place at the Alexander Bar in August 2016 and was a huge success with audiences responding enthusiastically to the Joburg-maker’s work.
“It’s hugely important to be able to share work across the country with different audiences and theatre makers alike. We all have something to learn from the different narratives and styles that are being created in different parts of the country,” says Hayleigh Evans of the POPArt Theatre. “It’s also important to do this in the most calculated and risk-free way so that these types of exchanges remain sustainable and can grow both in popularity and structure for best practice.”
The partnership also seeks to set up these kinds of structures, looking at setting up relationships with mobility and accommodation partners. This season has seen Curiocityhostels.com come on board providing discounted accommodation for the artists touring to Johannesburg at their Curio-Pads at the 12 Decades Hotel in the same building as the theatre.
The March 2017 season (running from 20 March – 1 April) of POPupstairs will see the partnership in action in both cities at the same time as the curators of the seasons have put together audience favourites and award-winning shows for audiences in each city to enjoy.
Cape Town audiences are in for a treat as the first week brings Naledi Award winner (best breakthrough performance 2015) Zethu Dlomo in a one-woman show “PENNY” (written and directed by MoMo Matsunyane) in the 7pm slot, as well as nominee for best international production (Amsterdam Fringe 2016), best cutting edge production (Naledi Awards 2016) and Silver Ovation Award winner (National Arts Festival 2015) “KAFKA’s APE” starring Tony Miyambo (adapted and directed by Phala Ookeditse Phala) in the 9pm slot. The second week of the season sees the return of Lebogang Mogashoa’s “THE REAL DIRT” in the 7pm slot, as well as the Ovation award-winning sketch comedy group “THENX” with an amalgamation of their best material in “THE TRIPLE M MAMMAS KURK ABOUT AZA-YA” (Zethu Dlomo, Boitumelo Motsoatse, MoMo Matsunyane and Kitty Moepang) in the 9pm slot.
Joburg audiences can look forward to Ovation award-winner (National Arts Festival 2016) “DANI AND THE LION” starring Daneel Van Der Walt, accompanied by David Lubbe and directed by Nicholas Spagoletti in the first week. In the second week, Jon Keevy’s “SINGLE MINDED” starring Kiroshan Naidoo and Kathleen Stephens will be on the POPArt stage.
The 2016/ 2017 season will close in July 2017 with two more shows from Cape Town in Joburg to be announced. Thereafter, the partnership will continue pursuing opportunities that strengthen and grow the national fringe theatre network.