TIME and time again we hear the story of the struggling artist, but what’s never talked about is their purpose of going through that struggle.
What’s this dream which makes one put on blinkers and focus on this lifelong mission? For playwright Menzi Mkhwane, the answer is building a sustainable theatre company.
“No one has built a black audience for theatre. I mean a black paying audience. I could list so many external problems such as, comedy for instance gets more support more so than theatre and so does poetry. But internally. I will say I have only began concentrating my efforts into offering consistent entertainment which is plotted on a calendar stretching all the way to November next year. I have a five year plan of how we plan to take over Durban with theatre so in a nut shell people will warm up to me,” Mkhwane confidently tells me.
An actor of eight years now, Mkhwane has seen enough in the industry to stir up his passion and desire to create something bigger than himself, from the bottom up. He was part of musical theatre Twist which travelled to Holland and Belgium late 2010 and early 2011. He made his debut with his poppa, celebrated actor Bheki Mkhwane in the production Belly of The Beast.
While in 2016 he won the Best Newcomer award at the Naledi Awards– this was for his portrayal of Sponono in the play A Voice I. Currently, he’s working with young artists who have great potential simultaneously sharpening his skill as a director and an all round playwright.
“People know more about Tira than they do about Menzi Mkhawane’s Master Classes. And I get it. This is why I am closing that gap,” Menzi Mkhwane
Last month he was overseeing a one woman comedy play Babazile, written by Aphiwe Namba starring Penny Ngayo, at the Bat Centre. Babazile tells the story of a lady who sits behind her stall in the market talking to customers about a number of things from Ben 10s and takes you right up to the pulpit of corrupt pastors. Namba asked for Mkhwane to direct the play, to which he jumped at the opportunity of directing his fourth project. “Aphiwe has something that everyone who thinks and desires to be writers has – the natural and tremendous natural flair of writing. Aphiwe can go away for a week and come back with a solid script.”
The play struggled to put bums on seats, as a measly five people attended on opening night. “These are friends including one of my friends Jayshree who is one of the main presenters at East Coast Radio. People received the show pretty well considering that this is my first comedy ever. It was hilarious and doing it with an actress who is only 22 years old and still in training stretched it even further,” Mkhwane says.
“I understand that what I am building which is a life time sustainable theatre company from the ground up is not a short term goal. So in essence it will take a long time, a couple of more shows down the line before I build a solid audience. I’ve been in the industry of theatre and performing for almost ten years now. Not a long time but not short either. In that time I have ‘studied the game’. And from what I have gathered there is no one building an audience of young black people under concentrated efforts in a company setting. I might be the first to do it in this way in the whole country.”
His foresight and ultimate vision allow for the artist’s optimism to freely roam his psyche, despite encounters on his journey. “Do I want to quit when struggles hit me? Without a doubt. But my reaction to those adversities has matured. I’m building a company…building a house that will revive theatre in Durban which is dying a slow death. No one else is a role model. I’m modelling the role for myself. So I never get surprised when extreme challenges new to other people hit me hard.”
Working with young people who don’t have a strong pull to get enough audiences could also contribute to the reason for the paucity of theatre goers in Durban. But Mkhawane believes in the young talent so much, he doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. He believes casinos are the perfect place for Babazile, he’s earmarked Izulu Theatre inside the Isibaya Casino as a platform to try.
“It’s hard to weigh the reaction of a city that hasn’t been offered consistent black theatre around the clock from all types of genres in theatre. The fact is no one is doing that. People know more about Tira than they do about Menzi Mkhawane’s Master Classes. And I get it. This is why I am closing that gap. I’m smart enough. Infact intelligent enough. Experienced enough. Influential enough. Young enough in terms of energy to drive. And just in the right head space to offer Durban audiences better theatre from black producers. So the answer is broad. They haven’t been given great quality and nothing has been communicated to them enticingly enough for them. I’ve rolled up my sleeves and through my growing influence on social media I’m offering all of that in growing degrees of perfected execution. We still make mistakes and learn.”
Currently Mkhwane is co-director together with award winning director and writer, Samson Mlambo on a play Shoe Man that opens in two weeks at Bat Centre. It stars Anele Nene, who depicts all the characters in the story.
WHAT started out as a simple live performance sessions on the internet just over a year ago, has now become a staple on South African television. Last night saw the television debut of JR’s Feel Good Live Sessions on MTV Base.
Feel Live Good Sessions is a live performance platform founded by artist JR. The first episode was released last year in April, with JR himself as the first performer on the stage. He started the sessions to create a bridge between the studio and the stage.
Busiswa was the featured artist on the TV debut last night. The Fell Good Live Sessions have broadcast over 20 artists on their YouTube channel, including Reason, Samthing Soweto, Shekhinah and A-Reece among the long list of performers.
JR received a lot of love from industry persons on the big move. “Congrats Papito,” said Refiloe Ramogase, who is the GM and Director at Sony Music Entertainment. Even narcissistic beast AKA showed JR love in a Tweet saying “Congratulation @JRafrika on the debut of #FeelGoodLiveSessions on TV…I know you and your team work extremely hard to make this a reality. Proud of you bro.”
While some people thought the move could’ve been better at the public broadcaster. “I have a feeling #FeelGoodLiveSessions was gonna do well on @SABC_2,”said one Cyegolicious. Poor girl probably just wants Afro Café canned.
The show will be broadcast every Thursday evening on MTV Base.
There’s nothing worse than planning an outfit in your head and realizing that the key component of your outfit looks like you just came from digging graves.
Call them what you will, whether it’s iBathu, Kicks, iSpova or whether it’s the classic Takkies. We all love our shoes and let’s admit it, keeping them clean isn’t the easiest thing to do.
It’s a matter of how time consuming the effort of washing them is. But with the new age aesthetic that come with shoes there’s techniques and products that comes with keeping your kicks fresh.
Enter Drop Shoe, the future of premium footwear hygiene. Founded in 2017 by Lethabo Komane in Tembisa, after having washed his older brother’s sneakers over the years and developing a clientele with his brother’s friends Komane saw a gap in an already existing market. Thus Drop Shoes was born and has since grown from strength to strength with only under 2 years in existence.
With limited resources, his passion for business and together with his homies Smash, Banele and Tebza footwear hygiene in Tembisa found a home in Drop Shoe. The guys have really changed the narrative of self employment in the township by not only employing guys from their community but also having young interns during school holidays to teach entrepreneurship to teens.
Drop Shoe has since grown from just a sneaker cleaning outlet to a premium clientele service provider at an affordable price. With the most beautiful and friendly service that makes you feel at home and at ease with leaving your kicks. They also offer shoe repair, backpack and cap washing. With their impeccable work ethic and professionalism Drop Shoe‘s growth potential is exponential. So show your support to the homies and enter them at parties with fresh clean kicks.
THERE’s a number of international artists who will pack venues this South African Summer/Spring. And if Erykah Badu’s recent performance on NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert is anything to go by, South Africans are in for an unforgettable, engaging performance at this year’s Delicious Festival from the Queen of Neo-Soul.
Her career spans more than two decades and in that times she’s released five studio albums, a mixtape, one live album, played a number of sets as a DJ and also released a compilation project. But there are three things which stand out about Badu. If you’re fortunate to have a ticket for the Delicious Festival, look out for these three things when she’s on stage:
Google her and see the images that pop-up. It’s just amazing to see how much her look has transformed through the years. On stage, her style is another presentation on its own accompanying the music. She’s done the all-natural look before the doek became fashionable, mixed it up by rocking an orange hued suit swathed in an indigenous blanked topped with a hat, she has worn dungarees with accessories all over her-but still somehow looks cool!
But whatever change she embraces, those beautiful piercing hazel eyes are a mainstay of her beauty. Her unique style, which is not influenced by a personal stylist, has and continues to inspire men and women to embrace their uniqueness and the comfort of expressing it without feeling awkward about it, but rather appreciating the cathartic experience that comes with the fun process. Her style is a symbol of her personality- she tries, if it works for her it does, if it doesn’t then it is what it is.
Some artists can express themselves as good in person, as they do behind the mic. They have a sense of humour, they articulate their thoughts well and don’t take themselves too serious. In the live performances I’ve seen and heard of Badu, she always throws in some banter and shares her opinion about anything between her performances- similar to a Clarence Carter. She’s a 47 year-old with a young spirit, who manages to have fun with her band on stage, like a new artist would.
At the beginning of her NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert performance, while introducing her band she quipped that drummer Cleon Edwards is her son, Seven, whose father is André 3000, which had the audience in stitches. It’s not surprising that she’s pondering the idea of stand-up comedy. More than just being a funny sista, she’s also in control and in charge. She never switches-off when performing- she’s like that classmate who caused trouble but somehow, got good grades.
She walked butt naked on the street, in the Window Seat video in protest. “…it was shot guerrilla style, no crew, 1 take, no closed set, no warning, 2 min., Downtown Dallas, then ran like hell,” she wrote on her Twitter about the video shoot. It took place at the site of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the video, she walks on the pavement removing her clothes, until she arrives right where Kennedy was shot, stark naked.
In a television interview on, The Wanda Sykes Show she said “My point was grossly misunderstood all over America. JFK is one of my heroes, one of the nation’s heroes. John F. Kennedy was a revolutionary; he was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth.”
HER HIGH QUALITY MUSIC
I hope Jill Scott doesn’t read this, but Badu is the Queen of Neo-Soul. There is no other female on the planet, who truly embodies Queen of Neo-Soul as Badu. Record label executive Kedar Massenburg rightly dubbed it Neo-Soul, which is a better representation of our generation. What distinguishes Neo-Soul from other types of music, is that it embraces the other genres. Jazz, Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Gospel, Soul, and everything else under the sun. Badu’s music captures that very essence, without compromising on the quality and her standards. The older generation appreciate her more because she’s like a conduit of great female vocalists of old such as Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. While youngins connect with her funk and hop that even a young Janelle Monáe can’t match up to.
She’s a multi-award winning artist who equally receives love from the commercial space and also on the streets. You can’t deny her. She has five studio albums which include the poignant 1997 debut Baduizm and Mama’s Gun which has been changing the game since 2000 and three other albums to her name. The two aforementioned albums have classics which are favourites for a lot of her ardent and new listeners, but what’s pleasantly mind perplexing is how she keeps tweaking them but has maintains their core over the decades.
HUGE DA ORACLE’s debut album is fittingly titled Rusty Soul. The rapper from Rustenburg is putting the final touches to the project which has been long overdue now.
“The album got a wide range of sounds, the people can expect way more than what they heard on June July. I can say the album is 70% done. I just really wanna take my time with it,” says Huge, speaking to Tha Bravado.
Real name Thapelo Khupari, the 27 year-old just released the first video of the album June July which features KidX. Directed by Kuda Jemba, the video is shot in the Johannesburg CBD at a barber shop and a scrapyard garage, it’s apt visuals that go with the Kwaito-infused beat with satisfactory bars on it. “It was just inspired by the mood of the song- dark grimy
and rebellious. The locations capture that sense,” Huge says.
Those in the Hip Hop scene knew Huge as far back as nearly 10 years ago in the underground scene, when he was in duo, Huge Impakt with rapper Impakt. But last year, while on the second season of reality television show The Hustle, he introduced himself to the rest of South Africa and the continent. Although he never won the competition, his brand became more familiar with the masses and he too, became a better artist having come third at the end of it.
Since then, he’s worked with Motswako’s gods, Kaygizm and Towdee Mac from Morafe as well as producer, Gobi Beats to which they released a video for his single 5IVE DIGIT$ with multi award-winning cinematographer, Ofentse Mwase.
He hasn’t given an exact date of when Rusty Soul drops, but he and his team are looking at releasing it before 2018 raps up. “My biggest inspiration while working on Rusty Soul was that I knew that people are finally waiting for the album. The demand is finally there.”
“That made me reach places I never thought I could reach musically and creatively. It was also wonderful to finally come up with a new sound that fully defines Huge as a brand and artist,” he says.