Women’s art festival pays tribute to Charlotte Maxeke

The annual Artscape Women’s Humanity Walk pre-lockdown.

The Artscape theatre will celebrate Women’s Month with the 15th annual Women’s Humanity Arts Festival.

The hybrid stage and online event runs from early August, and celebrates a month of performances including ballet, theatre and visual art.

The theme this year is “The Year of Charlotte Maxeke”, recognising the activist as an inspiration and trailblazer. This year commemorates the 150th anniversary of Maxeke’s birth.

As an early opponent of passes for black women, Maxeke sought to highlight this as well as other injustices, and was politically active throughout her adult life. She helped organise the first major anti-pass march in Bloemfontein in 1913.

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux said: “Now, more than ever, is the time to empower ourselves and to empower other women by focusing on the challenges of our society such as gender-violence and homophobia, while giving a voice to persons with disabilities.

“This festival seeks to encourage uncomfortable conversations through using the arts as a conduit to instil confidence and not letting your circumstances define you. You are the only real storyteller of your life and by doing so, you not only open doors for others, you help build the strong nation we all fought for – free from all kinds of social diseases. Our theme specifically includes the name of Charlotte Maxeke who is and should be an inspiration and shining example to us all as she epitomises the word empowerment.”

A focal part of the annual festival remains the Artscape Women’s Humanity Walk in conjunction with NPO Woman Zone. Its focus is to provide a platform for creating awareness of the challenges and achievements women have had to endure or have risen to during the past years of democracy.

Now in its 8th year, the walk will this year go virtual. Women of Cape Town and across South Africa are being invited to walk in their own ‘hood or wherever they choose for 3km or 30 minutes – they can walk and talk with a new friend, record it, either as a video clip or selfie, and post it with their names and hashtag #Artscape50 #WomensHumanityWalk2021 on social media, as well as tag @artscapetheatrecentre @womanzonect and if possible, recount what they have learnt from each other along the way.

The posts will be collated to appear on Artscape’s website and social media platforms during women’s month.

In the Arena Theatre, acclaimed and award-winning actress, Denise Newman, will unfold the story of murdered anti-apartheid activist Dulcie September in Cold Case – Dulcie September Re-visited from Monday August 9 to Wednesday August 11.

Performed and produced by Newman, the audience is led through a series of incidents which eventually leads to September’s death in Paris, France, in 1988.

The play gives clues to the still unsolved murder, and leaves the audience to make up its own mind as to who the perpetrators of this horrific crime could be.

It is co-written by Sylvia Vollenhoven and Basil Appollis.

Poetry is on the cards with Silhoeët van ‘n Vrou. Compiled and performed by Dean Balie, through an explorative music and voice soundscape, it is a tribute to the women that were, the women that are and the women that will be. It features the works of Tracy K Smith, TT Cloete, Gabeba Baderoon and others.

Carmen, the ballet performed by the Cape Town City Ballet will show at the Opera House. It tells the story of a girl and her soldier lover. Set to the music by Bizet, the French composer, it speaks of rage, anger and passion.

Sê groete vir ma, Hannes van Wyk’s one-man play, will also be part of the festival line-up. The online streaming will take place from Monday August 23 to Tuesday August 31.

Van Wyk portrays the character of a young man, Regardt Roberts van Aswegen, whose entire development, well-being and ill-being revolve around the person who brought him into this world… his mother.

While lockdown regulations continue to curb all activities, the Woman Zone team has been busy working with Artscape to present festival events for Women’s Month.

The following events falls under the auspices of the Woman Zone banner:

  • Launch of the Everywoman Care Bag project and viewing of the Everywoman artwork will take place at the Artscape on Saturday August 7, from 2pm to 4pm. Volunteers will collect shweshwe fabric and accessories to make 50 bags to be filled with toiletries and treats to be donated to Ons Plek, a residential home for girls.
Author Zubeida Jaffer will feature at the Woman Zone Women’s Day programme.
  • Woman Zone’s Women’s Day programme will take place on Monday August 9, from noon to 1pm. The event will feature Zubeida Jaffer, author and publisher of as well as Marlene le Roux, CEO of Artscape, among other guests and other guests.

Woman Zone will also deliver two new podcast series for Women’s Month – Artscape@50 – Conversations with some of the women behind the disciplines of ballet, opera, contemporary dance, orchestra and circus, and introduce Meet the Author, focusing on some of best South African women authors.

Visit www.artscape.co.za for more information, participating organisations and the full festival programme.