Durban University of Technology Professor Debbie Lutge and the DUT Drama students are on their way to Germany to perform at the prestigious Wolkwang Shakespeare Festival. Much Ado About Nothing, an innovating telling of one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies, will be staged in Germany as part of a global exchange/research programme to honour the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. The esteemed Prof Debbie Lutge designs and directs a cast of 12 second and third year DUT Drama and Production students, who leave on 6 April 2016 and return on 18 April 2016.
Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s most enduring comedies combining elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honour, shame, and court politics.
The DUT version travels to Essen-Werden in Germany to join productions from Krakow Poland; Melbourne Australia; Germany and Durban. It is the first production from Africa to take part in this innovative international Shakespeare project. They will perform at the Wolkwang Shakespeare Festival to which participants must be invited to produce collaborative art.
“Our production is centred in acknowledging African artistic roots with sets and stage floor comprised of cardboard boxes painted in fluorescent quasi-Ndebele designs, ostumes fusing contemporary and traditional designs, an occasional isiZulu translation, gum boot through to pansula dance, and a fusion of traditional and original contemporary African songs. This production’s exploratory process involved the creativity of the student cast where they explored text and history, creating original songs and choreographing dances as well as painting their own designs on sets designed by myself,” said Lutge
Masintle Mokoena, a third year Drama and Production Studies student worked with Lutge to design all the African costumes in the show. Senzo Mabanga, a second year Drama and Production student came on board as choir master for the singers and award winning professional lighting designer Michael Broderick (a former DUT graduate) designed the lights. Revd Siza Mthembu and Mdu Mtshali both former graduates who now teach in the Department assisted in tightening the isiZulu and choreography respectively with Richardt Wissink checking the singing.
The cast of 12 includes Beatrice and Benedict (played by Holly Gxubane and Sfundo Maphumulo), Hero/Margaret and Claudius (Spokazi Poswa/Thandeka Shangase and Vuyolwethu Tshambula). Leonato is played by Andile Tevin Nsibande and Prince Don Pedro by Kwenzokuhle Ngcobo (who featured as Peron in the 2013 EVITA! staged in the Playhouse Drama). Dogberry and Verges are played by Thobani Nzuza and Nkanyiso Shezi. Don John is played by Thembinkosi Mthembu, Conrad by Malusi Mkhonza and Borachio by Zuzumuzi Mdamba.
The Festival happens every two years and this is the eighth time the festival is being held. “This year marks 400 years since the death of Shakespeare who died in April so the April festival in Essen-Werden is a significant one and we are indeed honoured to be one of the invited participants. Our participation was made possible by our Vice-Chancellor Prof Ahmed Bawa’s approval, a phenomenal leader, with the vision to recognize the honour bestowed and the determination to facilitate the international exchange,” she said.
On returning to Durban, the show has been invited to feature as part of the Uhuru Festival at Wushwini.
Pictured: DUT cast of Much Ado About Nothing.
—- Illa Thompson-Publicity Matters