UJ’s #CloseToHeART Programme Announced
With an ethos of creative collaboration, powerful partnerships and interdisciplinary synergies at its heART, UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, brings home a programme that celebrates what matters most to them. Diverse and rich in-depth, the programme foregrounds UJ Arts & Culture’s passion and creativity that is, once again, complemented by exciting local and international partnerships and projects. The range of engaging, moving and entertaining productions, concerts, exhibitions, conferences and festivals invites the UJ students, staff and the wider Johannesburg audiences to stay #CloseToHeART.
“UJ Arts & Culture’s 2020 programme is unashamedly a tapestry of what matters to us. From the love of ‘art for art sake’ to advancing the discourse around race, class, gender, colonialism and neo-coloniality and keeping ‘Enough is Enough’ in focus, we hope to challenge, give impulse to important discussions and nurture good quality art and entertainment” says Pieter Jacobs, Head of UJ Arts & Culture.
Now in its fourth year, the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme presents Let the Right One In at the UJ Art Centre Theatre in July. Adapted from the best-selling Swedish novel and award-winning film by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In is an enchanting, brutal vampire myth and coming-of-age love story, originally adapted for stage by Jack Thorne. It has been re-imagined in a South African context with a dynamic set design and featuring a superb cast of professional and student actors. The FADA Interdisciplinary Theatre Programme is an integral component of course work for second-year FADA students across all departments. The programme builds students’ understanding of the potential of interdisciplinary collaboration. It promotes creative thinking, problem-solving and interpersonal abilities – all essential skills for working in most professional settings.
In keeping with the collaborative spirit, UJ Arts & Culture will undertake another interdisciplinary experiment with the Right of Admission Retrospective take-over presented at the UJ Art Centre in August. It is an immersive academic, performative and visual art intervention created by Farieda Nazier, Alberta Whittle and Pieter Jacobs. The project will explore the negotiated presence of blackness within racially stratified spaces, located in post-colonial and neo-colonial-apartheid contexts.
The performing arts programme welcomes the Mexican production Viva La Vida Kahlo to the UJ Con Cowan stage in May, which is set to bring Frida Kahlo’s history and philosophies to life. Mothers Grimm, written by Ameera Patel and directed by Jade Bowers, is a new South African life-skills pre-teen drama in which Goldilocks, Shahrazad, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Evil Queen, Rapunzel and Anansi all come together. This coming of age tale is set to open in May 2020 at the UJ Con Cowan Theatre and go on to perform at the National Arts Festival in July. Top South African dance company, Moving into Dance, returns to the UJ Art Centre Theatre with a brand new production and those with a love for musical theatre will delight in The Prodigal Man Returns, a Musical Theatre Revue featuring songs from some of Broadway’s greatest composers including Jason Robert Brown, Henry Krieger and Stephen Sondheim to be staged in October.
On a lighter note, the inaugural UJ Weekend of Stand-up will feature a comedy marathon with 25 comedians performing 5-minute sets each on Friday, 3 April and the following evening will see Goliath and Goliath wrap up the weekend of wit and humour. Over the same period, UJ Arts & Culture’s partnership with Goliath and Goliath will see it hosting Comedy Con, a conference that puts the business of comedy centre stage.
UJ’s music programme will include numerous concerts by the world-renowned UJ Choir, a classical fundraising gala in financial aid of deserving FADA students and the popular UJ Weekend of Jazz that will once again raise the UJ Art Centre Theatre roof with authentic South African sounds.
UJ Arts & Culture will also host a residency that will facilitate the development of a new theatre production inspired by a timeless Zulu folk tale, Hlakanyana. Hannah Ma returns to South Africa for a residency at UJ and will be joined by Sebastian Purfürst and Sergio Mel to develop a new work under the auspices of Hannah Ma Dance that will also see them selecting up to four South African dancers to join them in Luxemburg in 2021.
UJ Arts & Culture’s exhibitions programme is as full and as exciting as the performance programme and kicks off with Inequality, a photo exhibition by award-winning South African photographer Neo Ntsoma presented in partnership with two budding photographers, Andiswa Mkosi and Ross Jansen. This is followed by an exhibition by South African treasure, Diane Victor and then Pauline Gutter’s Execution, which delves into issues of power and land. Lwandiso Njara’s God Engineering will continue his exploration of hybrid identities and technologies and The Third Paradise, a group exhibition, is set to make connections between artifice and nature. The programme will conclude with the annual MTN and UJ art collections exhibition, this year exploring digital and virtual platforms being used to produce art that is accessible to the disabled.