By Ruvesen Naidoo
As the curtains are drawn on this year’s National Arts Festival, it is only fitting to shine a spotlight on the remarkable production companies that have delivered an array of unforgettable shows, leaving festival-goers enthralled with their creative brilliance.
Amidst a diverse tapestry of themes explored by various shows, these exceptional production companies managed to curate a captivating array of performances that catered to a wide spectrum of audiences, ensuring relevance and resonance for all.
Spark in the dark
The company showcased three shows including Dog Rose, Ile, and Play Things, and Raunchy Renditions which starred or were hosted by Standard Bank Ovation golden award recipient, Sophie Joans. Whether you sought a poignant exploration of the intricate bond between an autistic girl and her mother, a reflective journey delving into the complexities that define your hometown, or simply a delightful range of entertainment in the form of a variety show, Spark in the Dark had you covered. With a clever touch of comedic flair, Joan’s company skillfully demonstrated its awareness of contemporary issues, compelling narratives, and the need for innovative and engaging contemporary theatre.
Aaron Mcilroy and Lisa Bobbert, aka Macbob Productions, stand tall as one of the most revered production companies in this year’s Festival. Known for their comedic timing and riveting storytelling, the company earned a reputation for creating magical environments that entertained audiences with their lighthearted, humorous contexts in A Vegan Killed my Marriage, Adventure of Who, Bullet-proof and Go Big.
Wela Kapela Productions
Where music took centre stage, Wela Kapela Productions stepped in as the driving force behind unforgettable concert experiences. Known for their expertise in sound engineering, stage management, and artist coordination, Wela Klappa ensured that each musical performance fit the nature of their theatrical offerings. With productions including Amy Winehouse: The Diva and Her Demons, Damsel in Distress, Mad about the Boys, and NEXT!!, they possessed an uncanny ability to transform any venue into an immersive musical haven.
In an era where digital media holds sway, Simon Senn brought a technological touch to the Festival. Senn’s shows; How to become a cool unicorn, dSimon, and Be Arrielle captured the essence of live performances, turning them into stunning visual narratives. Through his innovation, Senn seamlessly harnessed the power of technology as a performance aid, allowing him to weave a narrative that explored the power of AI in art, and immersed the audience in a captivating virtual realm.
Rhodes University Drama Department
A youthful and dynamic bunch, armed with raw talent, unyielding passion, and a profound understanding of the issues plaguing today’s youth, the Rhodes University Drama Department captivated audiences with their remarkable productions: Pen(t)s down haha, Hairology, and Second Hands. With captivating storylines that delved into the complexities of identity, mental health, social justice, and personal growth, the department’s performances rendered quite the impression.
The collaboration between the Festival organisers and these renowned production companies proved to be a resounding success, attracting a wide range of audiences and fostering a deeper appreciation for the arts. The success of these companies at the festival only solidifies their position as leaders in the industry, leaving us eagerly anticipating their future endeavours and the experiences they will continue to create.