An arts extravaganza for a cause

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An arts extravaganza for a cause

It’s time to celebrate the arts and especially the artists with four days of theatre presented in aid of the Theatre Benevolent Fund at the refurbished and redesigned Aula on the University of Pretoria campus from 29 May to 2 June 2016.

With Lizz Meiring wanting to give back in abundance after 30 years in the business, she has gathered friends on the boards to present a few dazzling productions that will delight audiences.

All the proceeds go to the Theatre Benevolent Fund (TBF), a charitable organisation for destitute, aged and infirm arts and entertainment industry professionals.

We all know what a tough profession this is to make ends meet and often, while artists can manage that, saving for the future is a much tougher proposition.

Apart from the theatrical productions, audiences will have a chance to mingle with some of their favourite TV, theatre and film celebs. Fine wines and high-quality art pieces will be for sale. For the first time, guests can delight in a unique exhibition of old theatre photo- graphs, garnered from the private collections of industry greats. Young professionals from the industry will serve as ushers and all these events are hosted by the legendary Louis van Niekerk and Wilna Snyman.

On 29 May, it’s a chance for those who are new in the profession, or those who are hoping to become artists, to pay attention.

An evening titled I Want to Be An Artist will comprise lectures about being successful in this very tough environment. It runs from 6pm to 10pm. Attendance is free and bookings can be made with Gert van Niekerk at gvnsa@msn.com

This is followed by Liefde, Anna on 30 May at 7.30pm, a wonderful tribute to one of the pioneers of Afrikaans theatre and a leading light in Gauteng’s earlier theatrical circles, Anna Neethling-Pohl. A formidable actress, linguist as well as teacher for many including Sandra Prinsloo, who so gallantly steps into the grand dame’s shoes in this project.

Prinsloo was taught by her and remembers her as someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Something they’ve certainly captured, is the Anna look. The way Prinsloo is pictured as Pohl, is spot on. Written by Schalk Schoombie, he explains in the writer’s notes that to vividly illustrate someone this much larger than life is a tough ask.

As the title suggests, Liefde, Anna, focuses on the great loves in her life. She was passionate about theatre, language and culture, but she also had huge respect for her father and problematic relationships with the men in her life.

As the writer Schoombie says, he wanted to have a conversation with his subject. He wanted to ask the tough questions her contemporaries were too scared to confront her with. He wanted as much of her voice as possible to surface. He only worked with her once, during a season of NP van Wyk Louw’s Germanicus, and he knew she wasn’t someone you messed with.

Joining Prinsloo on stage is Deon Lotz and Gustav Gerdener in a production that pays both tribute to Pohl’s character and Prinsloo’s incisive portrayal.

Sketch comedy, improvisational laughter, vignettes, stand-up – all in one clever, classy comedic package is how the entertainment on 31 May is described.

Verskrikkelik Snaaks has been playing nationwide to packed theatres for 18 months. Every style of comedy is performed from the sophisticated stand-up of cult favourite Melt Sieberhagen, to the clever neuroses of Hannes Brummer, or the wry wit of Tobie Cronje, the pathos of Karen Wessels to the sharp satire of Lizz Meiring.

On 1 June between 11am and 1pm, Liefdesnotas oor Lap is an invitation to women to join couturier Thomas Thomson, who is known for his theatrical approach to fashion shows. Music and fashion merge as live performers complement the visual display of the classy couture.

The fashion spans three generations of excellence – veteran and internationally acclaimed Peter Soldatos has opened his fashion archives and these rare garments will be shown for the first time in a number of decades.

Soldatos, dressed among other A-listers, stars such as Liza Minelli. Thomson shows his contemporary classic collection – brand new, yet timeless.

And Lydia Williamson, a talented young designer, interprets modern couture in a collection of specially created garments.

The wit and even wisdom of Meiring, Hannes van Wyk and Brumilda van Rensburg completes the feast of fashion and music.

Solo shows have become vogue at festivals and for touring purposes.

At 7.30pm also on 1 June, Solo Saam is a unique compilation of acclaimed solo productions and two-handers featuring carefully chosen extracts from: My Naam/Name is Ellen Pakkies with Vinette Ebrahim, Vier Briewe vir Jan Ellis with Christo Davids, Mona Lisa with Meiring, Barry van der Linde Bied Aan with Ben Kruger, and Platform Nine with Christo Davids and Theodore Jantjies.

These extracts are linked in an unusual fashion, taking the audience on an emotional roller-coaster ride, sometimes bumpy, but at other times, sleek and silly.

Concluding the fund-raising festival, Die Hart is ’n Eensame Jagter (The heart is a lonely hunter), a production that celebrates Johannes Kerkorrel, both the man and his music, is an apt choice. Presented on 2 June at 3pm with Dawid Boverhoff (piano), Lizelle le Roux (violin), Jeanne-Louise Moolman (alt violin), Susan Mouton (cello) and Christi-Louise Swanepoel (contra-bass), the production captures the essence of the Kerkorrel genius in an innovative manner. His music is brightly textured with only instrumental sounds to tell the unique Kerkorrel story.

The TBF Extravaganza is presented in association with UP Arts, Tuks Alumni, Manhattan Hotel, Annie Malan Promotions, Standard Bank and the Dagbreek Trust.