Artscape incubator wins big at trade fair

The Artscape 2016 incubator group flew the theatre’s flag high when they won two awards for their production Everyone Has It.

At the inaugural Arts Enterprise Development Trade Fair, held in Johannesburg last month, Dumisani Siziba was awarded best male performer for his performance as Mzubanzi.

The play tells the story of a young man from the Eastern Cape who is abandoned after birth and raised by his grandmother into a world that is wretched and seems to collude against him as he journeys into self and introspects through the eyes of others.

The group also earned recognition for best script of the nine plays presented. This was the first event of its kind held in South Africa, through which the country’s six state-funded performing arts institutions, together with the national Department of Arts and Culture, aim to build capacity and creativity through the Incubator Programme.

The programme, which is funded by a grant from the Department of Arts and Culture’s Incubator Fund, assists organisations that are struggling to put themselves on the map.

Mr Siziba and Thando Baliso, who wrote the script, are both from Art of Hearts, based in Paarl, Mbekweni and Kraaifontein. The organisation was one of five which participated in the 2016 incubator programme.

Mr Baliso said the programme had helped their organisation a lot.

“We opened our organisation out of passion and we knew nothing about compliance and admin, writing proposals and presenting them, and getting funding.

“They took us through a learning process to show us all the things we needed to do as a company.”

He said as an assessment, the incubators of 2016 put together Everyone Has It and performed it at the Artscape, but they decided it couldn’t be left there.

“The theatre centres met with the government and they decided to hold the trade fair. We came back and rehearsed and the rest is history.”

When it was announced that the production had been named the best script, the pair had no words to describe their feelings. “It was like, yoh. I almost fell down the stairs and broke my legs (when going to collect the award),” said Mr Baliso.

The script, which was Mr Siziba’s story, was devised by the cast and written by Mr Baliso.

“I take much pride in the script because it’s the process that I have led.

“When they announced that we have the best script, it was the best feeling. I can’t explain it. We truly believed in this story, when we were announced it was like this was what we’ve been sweating for.”

Mr Sibiza added: “I was the first one to jump when I heard the announcement. We were the first ones to grab that award, and the audience was very supportive – they celebrated with us.” Mr Siziba, who won best male actor, said he was very honoured. “It was the first time that I won an award. Out of all the theatres that were there, all the actors from different productions from all over the country. I didn’t know what to do, but I know that before the judge said my name, I was already up.”

Mr Baliso said Mr Siziba had no competition. “He played himself in his story, so we got to see his story through his eyes.”

The pair said it was amazing to return to Cape Town with the awards. “We flew the flag high for Artscape and for our province. The Artscape believed in us to such an extent that all five of the managers accompanied us for support.

“Today when we walk in the building all eyes are on us.”

Thokozile Ntshinga, the director of Inclusive Arts at Artscape, said as this was the first trade fair, they had not known what to expect. “Also, all theatres in the country operate in silos. We never know what each theatre is doing with their incubators and it turned out that it was different from each theatre.

“Some are doing photography, some dance and we do administration and theatre. We got to see all of it. But getting there and seeing so many people coming toward the same common goal, it felt good.”

She said the incubator programme was there to help organisations which were struggling to put themselves on the map.

“Very often you find that you start an organisation out of passion (but) you can’t get funding, so the Artscape incubator programme provides the administration skill.”

She said the incubators still had to answer to their own organisations. “They come here, get a skill, and go and plough back, so that the organisation also benefits from what they learn here at the Artscape.”

Chief Executive Officer of Artscape, Marlene le Roux, said: “The Artscape Theatre Centre is proud to be associated with this programme and to end this phase at the trade fair with two national awards with best script and best male actor is an achievement we can be proud of.”