WALE 4.0

The Wits Arts & Literature Experience – known this year simply as WALE 4.0 – at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg is living up to its billing as the rising star on the South African arts festival calendar with a massive 75 events over four days.

Opening on 11 May with a free concert at the Great Hall Plaza featuring Kwani Experience and several other music acts, WALE 4.0 features 10 film screenings, five dance shows, 16 theatre shows, two musical theatre productions, eight music events, seven exhibitions, two installations, three workshops, two poetry readings,
a debate and five book-related events over its four days.

The 2011 programme also features 15 guest artists, 27 student productions, and 33 Wits staff and alumni offerings among its most comprehensive and diverse programme to date.

“Our new team has delivered an exceptional programme that really takes forward what we’ve built up over the past few years to create a significant arts event that makes Johannesburg a real cultural destination in May,” says Professor Tawana Kupe, WALE founder.

Headed by Wits Theatre general manager Ashraf Johaardien and Jade Bowers, the artistic director of WALE 4.0, the team has curated a programme built around a mixture of upcoming and established talent – often working together – and introducing new creative works.

The film element of the festival has been significantly upped in 2011 and among the 10 screenings are four at the Bioscope on Main Street in the city centre, a reflection of the festival’s impact on greater Johannesburg. Key components of the film element of WALE 4.0 are a screening and discussion of A WALE of a Time by Ann Marie Tully at the Bioscope on 13 May as well as the chance for digital storytelling to be elevated to new heights with Taku Kaskela’s presentation on making a film in one day on at the Appollonia on 14 May.

Other films showing at the festival are Foreign Demons directed by Faith Isiakpere, Small Town Called Descent directed by Jahmil X.T Qubeka, Enjoy Poverty directed by Renzo Martens, Jackpot directed by Damon Heatlie, Le Boeuf sur le Toit directed by Nobunye Levin, Cane/Cain directed by Jordache A Ellapen, Wits Students’ Short Cuts directed by Lieza Louw, Out of Body 2010 directed by Lieza Louw, and HIV/Aids: In It Together coordinated by Anthea Moys.

WALE 4.0’s theatre and dance programmes are its most far-reaching yet, beginning with the production Smoke and Mirrors, directed by renowned choreographer and performer Athena Mazarakis in partnership with the acclaimed Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaboration. WALE 4.0’s dance element also includes a performance by the Tshwane Dance Theatre, underscoring the festival’s commitment to making connections with the broader Gauteng creative community as well as audiences from outside Johannesburg. This takes place at WALE 4.0’s closing event on 14 May in the Wits Great Hall.

WALE 4.0’s theatre line-up is extensive and includes Planet B, helmed by the critically acclaimed director Helen Iskander. This collaboration between Fresco Theatre and Well-Worn Theatre runs at the Nunnery. Also not to be missed is Sexetera, directed by Sibikwa’s Phyllis Klotz and running at the Wits School of the Arts Atrium. Another theatre highlight, running at the Wits School of the Arts Basement, is The Titled, director Eliot Moleba’s expansion on his 2010 piece The Untitled.

Then here’s the music – and plenty of it, staring with Zim Ngqawana’s Zimology on 14 May at the Atrium. In his three decades of playing, writing, performing and recording Ngqawana has created a philosophy he terms Zimology, based on the belief that music, and specifically the silence in music, can lead individuals back to their true self. Ngqawana’s appearance at WALE 4.0 is a coup and gives South African fans the rare chance to see this highly regarded global music icon perform on home soil.

The Mary Rorich Scholarship Concert, in honour of the late academic and musicologist, is another highlight, to be held in the Linder Auditorium on 15 May. And Gina Shmukler offers Red, Hot & Cole, a journey through the life and music of genius composer and lyricist Cole Porter, as well as Black Angels: Samson Diamond in Concert.

WALE 4.0 has a strong emphasis on exhibitions, such as the Thinking Women’s Worlds exhibition at the Downstairs Theatre Foyer, which features student photographs that explore young women’s experiences of life at Wits, curated by Professor Jill Bradbury. Another highlight is The Photo Album – Spirit of a Child curated by Lebogang Ngwatle and Twenty-First Century Urban Communities, a photography competition and exhibition facilitated by Ian Siemmers.

Adding impact to this year’s programme are discussions and debates that will get individuals talking, including a trio of workshops: Fuck me Queer! Wait, You Got the Wrong Idea, Digital Storytelling: Make a Film in One Day and Unsilence: Performing and Exploring New Music.

Finally, the book fair at WALE 4.0 features booksellers and publishers as well as a full programme of launches, discussions and debates.

For a full programme and details of each event go to www.wale.co.za. For media interviews and accreditation to performances please contact media@jtcomms.co.za 011 788 7631/2