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UJ Arts & Culture  & Madevu Entertainment proudly present The Sounds of Hlakanyana, a  Heritage Day Celebration. Hlakanyana’s journey to the stage is one step closer with a musical animation preview this Heritage Day.

Music and folklore are two quintessential parts of South Africa’s heritage, and this year UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) in partnership with Madevu Entertainment, will celebrate Heritage Day with a taste of both, and a little more. The launch of The Sounds of Hlakanyana takes place on 24 September at 18:00, with five songs, recorded live at UJ Arts Centre, streamed to various social media platforms free of charge.  They will then be available for download from major music streaming sites i.e Spotify, Itunes and Youtube Music.

Madevu Entertainment joined forces with Sebastian Burger and Callum Stout from Ohoneone Animation Company to create an aural-visual experience through animation that captures a sense of the story and the theatre production to come. As with so much of this production’s journey, this partnership speaks to UJ Arts & Culture’s commitment to original, innovative, Afrocentric storytelling through an interdisciplinary approach.

“Collaboration and partnership, now more than ever, is crucial for the development of one of the sectors that is most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are thrilled to have been able to sustain our collaboration with Madevu Entertainment virtually all this time and look forward to when we are able to present this gem,” says Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture.

Hlakanyana, a retelling of the Zulu folktale, was commissioned by FADA in 2020 as part of the faculty’s flagship Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme. Despite a year fraught with turbulence and uncertainty, Madevu Entertainment led by Zolani Shangase and Michael William Wallace and director Janice Honeyman, with funding and support from the 2020 Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) Development Grant in Music and a project grant from The National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC), went on to develop, workshop and create a brand new South African play, primarily using digital communication platforms.

The creation process included MoMo Matsunyane as head writer in collaboration with actors Khutjo Green, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri and Lebo Borole, dancer/choreographer Khaya Ndlovu. As the workshopping, script development and musical score conception adapted to new digital mediums, the process took on different forms and allowed the artists to explore new avenues of creativity and unexpected synergies.

In September 2020, the creative team: Zolani Shangase and Michael William Wallace of Madevu Entertainment, composer/musical director, Sne Dladla and lyricist Dionne Song were able to meet in person to create, score and perform the music with singers; Lebo Borole, Mthokozisi Khanyile, MoMo Matsunyane, Neo Motaung, Tshepo Ncokoane, Senzo Radebe, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, Zolani Shangase and the Viwe Mkizwana Ensemble melding voice and sound into a promise of what would be when theatre spaces opened up again. The music was recorded live at UJ Arts Centre by recording engineer Clifford Machingaifa and the final mix and master by industry stalwart Mark Cheyne, truly capturing the level of energy and passion present in the room.

“It was a two week process and we were very much surprised by the results. We could not have envisioned how the artists would interpret the music and the suggestions they offered to it, ” says Madevu Entertainment producer Michael William Wallace,

“There was a hunger and a passion to be creating again and the relief of being in a space to do so again. It really transformed into something bigger during that time,” says Zolani Shangase, music, lyrics and producer, Madevu Entertainment.

The Viwe Mkizwana Ensemble (band) brings the musical heart to the score and has given it a multi-layered sound. It merges African and Western Musical Theatre influences into a sound that is new, fresh and distinctly South African.

Be sure to join us on 24 September, from the comfort of your own home for the free screening of The Sounds of Hlakanyana live from the UJ Arts Centre in Johannesburg.

The Sounds of Hlakanyana are a Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) supporting grant recipient for the in-kind sponsorship made possible by Distell.

Space is limited; book your virtual seat now. For more information, contact Lakin Morgan-Baatjies 

About UJ Arts & Culture

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.

Admission is FREE, click here to RSVP.

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