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DFL shines bright at the National Arts Festival

- By Wits University

Drama for Life (DFL) staff, students and alumni have wowed judges and audiences at the 2015 National Arts Festival and garnered Standard Bank Ovation Awards.

The Standard Bank Ovation Awards are prestigious awards that recognise “artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversations through the arts underpin the motivation for the winners of the Standard Bank Ovation Award.”

The criteria used to confer the awards included production values, the quality of performances, writing and direction, the conceptualisation, innovation and originality of a work, and the overall impact of the production. 

The awards provide “a valuable incentive for artists on the Festival’s Fringe programme to strive for excellence, experiment with innovation and to challenge and shift the boundaries of creativity,” says Ismail Mahomed, the Arts Director of the National Arts Festival.

“Audiences and visiting producers from other festivals enthusiastically look out for winning productions,” Mahomed. 

Drama for Life staff, student and alumni 2015 Standard Bank Ovation Award winners 

Khutjo Green, Director of Have you seen Zandile?

  Seiphemo Alex Motswiri, Director of The System.

Irene Stephanou, writer and performer in Searching for Somebody.

Phala O Phala, Director of the adaptation Kafka’s Ape.

Tefo Paya, writer and performer for Morwa: The Rising Son.

Warren Nebe, Drama for Life Director and Director of Morwa: The Rising Son.

Volley Nchabeleng, Drama for Life Playback Theatre Musician, musician and composer for Morwa: The Rising Son.

Nondumiso Msimanga, performer and choreographer for Barbed Wire Wallpaper.

In addition to these awards, a few of these productions are selected for Gold and Silver Awards for excellence. The Standard Bank Silver Ovation Awards for 2015 were awarded to Nondumiso Msimanga, Phala O Phala, Tefo Paya, Warren Nebe and Volley Nchabeleng.

We are absolutely delighted by the success of our staff, students and alumni,’ said Nebe. “Our commitment to social transformation through drama, theatre and performance has begun to make a significant impact on the national and international stage. We have been committed to forging new, meaningful ways of engaging with complex, important subject matter in Africa. Our methods are opening up spaces for new voices and relevant voices”

Phala O Phala’s production of ‘Kafka’s Ape’, featuring Wits performance graduate Tony Miyambo, was also named as one of the productions to feature in the Afrovibes Festival in the Netherlands.

Drama for Life Sex Actually Festival 2014 commissioned work, Father, Father, Father! featuring Wits Theatre performance staff and former students, went on to perform to rave reviews at the National Arts Festival and was also selected to attend the international theatre festival in the Netherlands.  Father, Father, Father! can be seen at the Wits 969 Festival which ends this weekend.

The DFL department is one of its kind internationally. It incorporates postgraduate studies in Drama Therapy, Applied Drama and Theatre-Making, Arts Education and Performance Ethnography to produce productions which capture domestic and international attention.

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