In its heyday, the SA State Theatre was the go-to venue for classical ballet, opera and dramas. While it faced massive decline in the 2000s, it has since reinvented itself to become the home of Afro-centric theatre in Pretoria. Producing award-winning musicals reflecting the everyday stories of the people, the SA State Theatre holds a special place in the hearts of many theatre lovers.
The SAST Online Theatre Makes Its Virtual Stage Debut
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the SA State Theatre (like performing arts venues across the globe) has faced many obstacles. Without revenue from ticket sales, they have been unable to support the artists and craftspeople whom have tirelessly worked to ready their productions for the stage. In a bid to assist these artists, and bring you world-class entertainment at home, the State Theatre has turned to digital streaming solutions. Again, like theatres around the world, this step into the virtual world is both necessary and intimidating. It presents a massive shift in the way we consume, critique and enjoy our art, as well as how artists present their work to us.
Nevertheless, the SA State Theatre has risen to the challenge of taking their work online. From Sunday, 24 May 2020, the SAST Online Theatre will be up and running via the theatre’s YouTube channel. Their first online season will run until Saturday, 13 June 2020, with new content posted daily for your at-home enjoyment.
SA State Theatre Artist Director, Aubrey Sekhabi explained, “Since 2014, we have been experimenting with bringing theatre online and on television. This led to my presentation at the African Union in Addis Ababa, where I intended to invite artists in the continent to be part of this initiative. With the lockdown, we are presented with an opportunity to experiment on this format. We are ready to launch, whilst providing relief for our artists to earn income. We also intend to solidify the online platform as an alternative or secondary platform for our artistic offering.”
Africa Month Celebrations
The SAST Online Theatre’s debut season also just happens to collide with the celebration of Africa Month. As such, they will be streaming a variety of productions to get you in the festive mood. Here’s a sneak peek of the lineup for the SAST Online Theatre’s first official season:
The celebrations kick off with an exclusive screening of never-before seen performances by the award-winning acapella group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. See the Grammy-winning group perform a delightful selection of songs between Sunday, 24 May 2020 – Sunday, 07 June 2020 on the SA State Theatre’s YouTube channel.
How about a little virtual art to keep you entertained in lockdown? Guiness Record holder, Percy Maimela’s exhibition, ‘Salt Art of the Earth’ will form part of the SAST Online Theatre’s first season lineup. Maimela holds the Guiness World Record for producing the largest artwork using coffee granules. Join the artist for a walkabout through the exhibition between Sunday, 24 May 2020 – Sunday, 07 June 2020.
To celebrate Africa Month and the formation of the African Union in 1963, the SAST Online Theatre will be streaming the Amawethu Dance Piece choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya. The piece aims to reconnect Africa with her roots, celebrating her triumphs and tribulations through the art of movement. Catch this breathtaking dance piece online between Monday, 25 May 2020 – Saturday, 13 June 2020 at 15:00 daily.
Jazzists, here’s something just for you. Tune in to enjoy the sultry sounds of Ncamisa Nqana’s “A Bird With Melodies”. If you’ve been missing out on good tunes and great vibes during lockdown, this performance is perfect for you. See it online between Monday, 25 May 2020 – Saturday, 13 June 2020.