Following the success of “Beneath African Skies”, The People’s Theatre in Braamfontein is thrilled to present “Our Stories Our Africa”.
Taking place from September 3 to 9th iof October, the aim of the production, which features stories and songs from all over this continent, is to introduce the magic and joy of live theatre to young audiences.
With emphasis on the value of books and reading, stories are acted out with People’s Theatre’s trademark wit and great musical numbers. Audience participation is encouraged and reminds learners that reading and books are filled with magic and fun.
In this production, The People’s Theatre endeavours to bring to young audiences an ensemble of great African stories that are particularly appealing to children and filled with exciting, interactive audience participation.
Directors Jill Girard and Keith Smith have carefully crafted the production to provide young minds with a greater understanding of the wonderful stories and rich heritage that exists in South Africa and beyond.
With set and lighting design by Grant Knottenbelt, “Our Stories Our Africa” is set against an African landscape that transforms itself as the wonders of the land become the backdrop to myths and legends. Meet creatures who claim to be able to transform themselves into wild animals, animals who possess great wisdom, chiefs, brave warriors and mystics as they journey across a sun-drenched landscape, under African skies.
Beautiful, handcrafted masks and puppets allow the actors to transform into the many different animals that inhabit the land, while a soundtrack of effects underscores all the action.
Musical staging director Sandy Dyer and musical director Dale Scheepers have ensured that well-known African songs live side by side with their contemporary counterparts to offer a musical experience children will love, while also encouraging a lifetime appreciation of theatre.
“Our Stories Our Africa” stars Travis Hornsby, Noni Mkhonto, Luciano Zuppa and Kutlwano Marvin Molepo.
Hornsby began his career in 2010, playing Boggo in “Spud”. This was followed by “Spud: The Madness Continues” in 2012 and “Spud: Learning to Fly” (2013).
He honed his skills further in student productions at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, before returning to South Africa where he played Rooster in “Annie Jr”.
In 2006, when she matriculated, Mkhonto was cast in the musical, “Annie”, at Durban’s Playhouse complex. With “Our Stories Our Africa”, she feels she has come a full circle, having auditioned for The People’s Theatre’s production of “Alice in Wonderland” 12 years before she was cast as Lily in “Annie”. Other highlights of her career have been performing in Janice Honeyman’s “Jack and the Bean Stalk”, “Aladdin” and “Robin Hood”, to name a few. She has just finished playing Lily in “Annie Jr” at The People’s Theatre.
Luciano Zuppa needs no introduction. Having started his career in cabaret revues at the famed No 58 Theatre Restaurant in Hillbrow, he has sung, danced and acted his way through “Queen at the Opera”, for which he was nominated for three regional Vita awards; “The Pirates of Penzance”; “Singing in the Rain”; “Hello Dolly”; “My Fair Lady”; “Grease”; “Hair”; “The King and I”; “Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert”; “Sweeney Todd”; “Sweet Charity”; “Candide”; “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown”; “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”; “Oklahoma! ”; “West Side Story”; “The Wizard of Oz”; “Little Shop of Horrors”, and “Shrek – The Musical” and most recently Daddy Warbucks in “Annie Jr”.
Zuppa has performed throughout South Africa in cabaret tours, among them “Elton John - This Is His Song”, “New York State of Mind” and “Putting It Together with Stephen Sondheim”.
Musical theatre performer Marvin Molepo has played the lead role in student film “ZA Apocalypse”; featured in the international film, “Money Monster”; performed in “Pippie Longstockings” at the National Children’s Theatre, and “Creatures of the Night” at Unisa.
His People’s Theatre credits include playing Tweedle Dee, the March Hare and the Griffin in “Alice in Wonderland”.