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Something’s Got to Die first, in Anotherkind at National Arts Festival

07 July 2021

Local performer and writer Amy Louise Wilson had no choice but to live the message of her award-winning play, Another Kind of Dying, if she was going to realise her dream of bringing it to this year’s National Arts Festival (NAF).

As the 2020 winner of the annual Distell National Playwright Competition, she was entitled to have her script staged in Makhanda at this year’s NAF, one of the most prestigious events on the South African theatrical calendar.

But with Covid taking care of this career-catapulting opportunity, she had to reimagine her prize, and as she explains: “From the death of conventional theatre staging imposed by Covid regulations, we conceived a live-curated work for streaming via this year’s festival’s digital channels.”

The new format invited artistic collaborators – from actors to directors to collage and sound artists - to take part in a six-week creative lab to bring the story to life in an experimental process which spanned multiple mediums and disciplines.

AnotherKind is the adaptation of her original script, Another Kind of Dying. "In one way, it's intended as a funeral for a play that could never be staged. But it's also an exciting celebration. It marks the birth of a new, multi-media, hybrid experience which asks the questions: 'what can theatre become in this new world?' and 'how can we make sure storytelling survives?'"

Another Kind of Dying, which was written for and with actor Aphiwe Livi, tells the story of Silumko, who moves from the rural Eastern Cape to Johannesburg after the death of his father. "It's a coming-of-age story about identity, perceptions of patriarchy and masculinity in South Africa and the burdens they impose. But it is as much about a shedding of expectations and the joy that emerges from living a new life on your own terms. We have tried to mirror that in the way the new work has been created."

Wilson's NAF work builds on and breaks apart the original script across a series of short, filmed performance and sound pieces. "The online archive for this process will be activated through a series of live-streamed performances," she says. "These part-scripted/part improvised performances are to be presented as a live-typed essay that frames the narrative and provides context on the process – basically a 'scrolling tour' through the archive of filmed pieces."

"For me, it's a thrilling way of giving audiences an intimate view into 'another kind' of process – a meeting of textual fragments, recorded rehearsals, as well as performance and sound experiments. The project has transformed the script from a single-authored work to a co-created story told by multiple voices. The idea is to challenge and extend the formal limits of live collaboration and theatre."

AnotherKind brings together Aphiwe as lead actor, with scenography and art design by Francois Knoetze; creative and performance direction by Joanna Evans; sound design and original composition by Gugulethu Duma; playlist curation by Zara Julius & KONJO; and collage art by Duduetsang Lamola (blk banaana). The website archive has been designed by Francis Burger. The choral work is performed by Iman Isaacs, Nhlanhla Nkwanazi, Buhle Ngaba, Babalwa Makwetu with performance appearances by Kathleen Stephens, Thembekile Komani and Phamela Manzi.

AnotherKind will be live-streamed via Zoom on 15 July at 19:30, on 16 July at 16:00 and on 17 July at 19:30. Visit LINK for more information and to purchase tickets.

All NAF events will be shown exclusively via its digital platforms.

Wilson is honoured that Distell and NAF have given her the chance to reconceive her script. "They have been generous and courageous in allowing me to re-imagine my script in this new, experimental format."

Distell, rooted in South Africa, is considered Africa's leading producer and marketer of alcohol beverages including spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks (RTDs). The company has been investing in in arts and culture for over half a century and remains as committed as ever to developing new talent.

Says Phumza Rengqe of Distell's corporate marketing division; "Funding arts and culture is investing in our future. Distell fully recognises how much our cultural life contributes to the health of our communities. We see our role as supporting the arts by showcasing new and diverse talent to build better cross-cultural understanding and accommodation, upliftment, economic opportunity and tourism too."

The NAF, with the support of Distell, will also be presenting a series of writing workshops during the festival period, from 8 to 18 July. The programme appears below.

Poetry and Self-Publishing:

Flow Wellington, is an author, publisher, and founder of Poetree Publications. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of getting your work onto the page.

14 July at 16:00
1 hour, 20 pax

*This workshop is aimed at those who have experience in writing.
*Potential option of a second workshop, depending on demand.

Writing for Healing:

Vangile Gantsho is a healer, poet and co-founder of impepho press. She is dedicated to creating and/or supporting spaces which encourage (black) feminine healing.

15 July at 19:00
2 hours, 15 pax

*This workshop is aimed at those with or without experience in writing.
*Potential option of a second workshop, depending on demand.

Scriptwriting 101:

Facililtated by Danile Mohlamme of Writers’ Guild SA, this workshop in two parts will cover everything from concept to pitching. Please note that you will need to be available for both sessions to participate in this workshop.

17 July; 10:00 to 14:30
2 x 2 hours, 20 pax

*This workshop is aimed at those who have experience in writing.
*This workshop is a once-off.

For further information, go to www.nationalartsfestival.co.za.

Image credits: video stills, AnotherKind (2021), Amy Louise Wilson

About the Distell national Playwright Competition

The competition is a partnership between Distell and the National Arts Festival that aims to discover and foster new South African scriptwriting voices while also promoting diversity and social cohesion. It was founded in honour of Adam and Rosalie Small, whose work in literature and education helped to shape South African culture.

Follow National Arts Festival on Twitter (@artsfestival), Instagram (@nationalartsfestival) and Facebook (@nationalartsfestivalmakhanda).

Follow Distell on Twitter (@DistellGroup), Facebook (@DistellGroup) and Youtube (@DistellGroup).

Join the conversation and use the hashtags: #NAF2021 and #DistellNewVoices2021

Social media post:
@Amy_L_Wilson_, winner of the 2020 Distell National Playwright Competition, will be live-curating and streaming a new work, AnotherKind, based on her prized script, as part of this year’s @artsfestival from 8-18 July. www.nationalartsfestival.co.za. #NAF2021 #DistellNewVoices2021