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UJ and Madevu sweep Naledi Theatre Awards

The University of Johannesburg (UJ)’s  Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment won an awe-inspiring eight Naledi Theatre Awards for Hlakanyana ­­– The Musical.

Hosted on 5 June 2023 at the Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre, the Naledi Theatre Awards recognises excellence in theatre. Hlakanyana – The Musical, commissioned for the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme, was conceived, workshopped, written, and scored online during the extended Covid-19 lockdowns. The Musical was written, scored and co-produced by Madevu Entertainment headed by the talented duo Zolani Shangase and Michael William Wallace and UJ Arts & Culture, with MoMo Matsunyane as head writer and directed by Janice Honeyman.

“We are so proud of the cast and crew of Hlakanyana – The Musical,” said Zolani Shangase, Co-founder and Creative Director of Madevu Entertainment about the collaborative project. “This is a truly ground-breaking production, and we are honoured to have been a part of it.”

The awards celebrate excellence in South African theatre over the previous year (2022) and UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment wins were spread across several categories, including:

  • Best Production of a Musical – Hlakanyana – The Musical (UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Leading Actor in a Musical Theatre Production – Sandisile Dlangalala (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Ensemble in a Musical in a Musical Theatre Production – Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in a Musical Theatre Production – Momo Matsunyane (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in a Musical Theatre Production – Sibusiso Mxosana (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Director of a Musical Theatre Production – Janice Honeyman (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Musical Director – Dale Ray Scheepers, Viwe Mkizwana & Zolani Shangase (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)
  • Best Original Score – Sne Dladla, Zolani Shangase, Dionne Song & Viwe Mkizwana (Hlakanyana – The Musical – UJ Arts & Culture and Madevu Entertainment)

Co-founder and Creative Director of Madevu Entertainment, Michael William Wallace, attributes the success of the project to its collaborative nature and the innovative spirit and tenacity of Madevu Entertainment and UJ Arts & Culture.

This is the second year the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme production has been nominated and won various awards. Now in its fifth year, the FADA programme challenges the over 300 second-year students from across the faculty to conceptualise and design various aspects of a production produced by UJ Arts & Culture. The collaboration of students and disciplines often results in productions that are eye catching, with a flair for the unique.

“This was a production birthed during Covid-19, theatres were closed, rehearsals halted and this is when it got its footing, and to see it come to fruition and to be rewarded at the Naledi’s is an all-encompassing moment, not only for us to see through Covid-19, but also despite Covid-19 being able to produce such an important work,” said Prof Desiree Smal, Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA).

“This year’s iteration is testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty, and Madevu Entertainment and highlights the importance of collaboration both in the faculty and with creatives in the industry.”

Hlakanyana – The Musical is an original and innovative Afrofuturistic retelling of a traditional Zulu folktale and was created using FADA’s unique interdisciplinary approach. The interdisciplinary programme was reintroduced in 2022 following Covid-19, allowing the musical to be produced and premiere on Africa Day.

The Naledi Theatre Awards are the premier awards event on the Gauteng Theatre calendar and are recognised as one of the most prestigious theatre awards in South Africa.

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.

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