Arts Education Project

Festival Personalities


Keynote Speaker

Gcina Mhlophe, probably South Africa's most celebrated storyteller, has been writing and performing on stage and screen for the past 21 years. She has written many children's books as well as adult audience poetry, short stories and plays. Her writings are published all over the world and translated into German, French, Italian, Swahili and Japanese. She has received honorary degrees in London and South Africa, awards from the BBC, The Edinburgh Festival, groups in New York and Chicago, as well as being invited to attend a prestigious seat in Boston as Writer in Residence. Her work has been produced for television by the BBC in London, in America by an organization of children's music, as well as composing the script and musical score for a programme in Germany, and here at home- a show called Gcina and friends where she performs her own stories and songs. She surely is one of the chief fighters for the growth of language, literacy and creativity at home and around the world today.

Standard Bank Feature Lecture

Thabang Abner Skwambane: I need respect, I am almost 30

Thabang has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from UCT, and in 1999 he graduated from the Academy of Financial Markets with a Diploma in Financial Markets. Thabang has worked for Mark Shuttleworth, has been an entrepreneur and has been almost bankrupt. He has been with the Standard Bank Group for four and a half years. In 2001, Thabang became an Account Executive at SCMB, a division of the Standard Bank Group Ltd, and in 2003 he worked for Standard Bank London on their Global Relationship Management project. He returned last year in March and is back in South Africa as an Account Executive for Standard Bank Corporate and Investment Banking. Pay close attention...what he says could positively affect your future wealth.

Andrew Buckland: Theatre is dead, long live theatre

Andrew has been a successful and consistent contributor to the Schools Festival Programme since 1987. His inspirational productions and workshops are unfailingly top of the popularity polls and pupils can seldom find words to express their admiration. Although his fame as a mime artist and actor is both national and international, he continues to find time for his family and for lecturing at Rhodes University where he is currently an Associate Professor of Drama. He is well known for his shows directed by his wife, Janet Buckland which include The Ugly Noo Noo, Feedback, Between the Teeth, Bloodstream and The Water Juggler. Some recent works include Makana written for the 2001 Standard Bank National Arts Festival and performing in Wemeltong, a theatre work constructed around the exhibition of Breyten Breytenbach's poem paintings at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees. Andrew is a multi-award winning actor and his magic on stage has permeated South African theatre.

Rob Candotti: Body Language. How to read anyone like a book.

Rob Candotti started to train as a lawyer, turned to teaching English, converted to advertising-man, and returned to teaching. He is currently entertaining the pupils of Kearsney College, while simultaneously studying for something else. One of his special interests is the science and art of hidden persuasion.

Professor Peter Clayton: Not Always Play Things

Professor Clayton worked in industry for a number of years before taking up an academic career. He is a Professor of Computer Science at Rhodes University, and in that capacity heads the Telkom Centre of Excellence in Distributed Multimedia. He is rated by the National Research Foundation as a grant-receiving scientist, and has served on a number of their committees. He recently received a National Science and Technology Forum Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science, Engineering and Technology. He has contributed to a number of national policy forums, is a founder member of the Sasol SciFest National Advisory Committee, and is the recipient of the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor's Distinguished Research and Teaching Awards. Professor Clayton is also a non-executive director of GBS Mutual Bank, and a director of the IT start-up company 7 Fountains.

Ruth Everson: Fame

It's not what we have been that is important but what we are yet to become. This is the challenge, this is the excitement. But if you need to know the arbitrary details: Ruth has a BA degree and a Higher Diploma in Education, specialising in Drama. Ruth is currently teaching at St Stithians Girls College in Randburg. She is a poet and writer who loves to share her creativity with the similarly insane. She is involved in script writing for the Liberty Life Learn Channel on TV, runs thinking out of the box and poetry workshops, is a freelance journalist and is an accredited facilitator for The Pacific Institute, an international organisation which runs Investment in Excellence in South Africa.

Heike Gehring: The world of colored girls and how the rainbow can be enuf

Heike completed her Masters Degree in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town. She is mainly concerned with making and directing theatre performances that address the search for identity, particularly those identity issues concerning female gender. Her latest productions, Hex and For colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf question and evaluate the role women play in society. Gehring is also a performer, having featured in The Unspeakable Story and Reza De Wet's Verleiding. She is also playing the role of Gertrude in Ingrid Wylde's Amleth/Hamlethouse that will be seen at the 2005 National Arts Festival. She has done extensive community work in Drama and has taught Drama at various schools. She is currently creating and directing a community work with UBOM! Eastern Cape Drama Company, which will be performed on Women's Day. Heike Gehring is a lecturer in Speech Communication and Contemporary Performance at the Rhodes Drama Department.

Ashraf Johaardien: The Writing Stage: South African and international writing for theatre today

Ashraf is a published playwright. His work includes Coloured Son X (Baxter Theatre: 1998 / Circle East Theatre Company, New York: 2001); Salaam Stories (Judges Choice Award: Spier-PANSA Festival 2002 / Theatre Row, New York: 2002 / Spier Summer Arts Festival and Baxter Theatre: 2003 & 2004). 'Happy Endings' Are Extra (Grahamstown National Arts Festival 2004 / Standard Bank National Schools Festival 2004 / Artscape Theatre 2005) and Miracle* (Commissioned by the Scottish Arts Council: 2005). He is currently the General Manager of the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) in Johannesburg.

Dr Ward Jones: Only From the Armchair: The Nature of Philosophy

Ward is a Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Rhodes University. His areas of research are epistemology, philosophy of mind and ethics. He spent three years lecturing Philosophy at the University of Oxford before joining the Department at Rhodes. He is Chief Editor of Philosophical Papers.

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen: A Walkabout of "David Krut: Collaborations with South African Artists"

Bronwyn is the Managing Editor of David Krut Publishing and a freelance writer. She earned a Masters Degree from Rhodes University and a Ph.D in Literature from New York University. She worked for the fine art publisher Aperture in New York before returning to South Africa in January 2005. She has published articles on twentieth-century literature and on South African art and photography.

Bronwen Nel: The Rock Sessions

Bronwen is a 29 year old professional with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of sound recording, producing and engineering. She has worked as a session musician, song writer, producer, and sound engineer for various studios and projects around the country. She has authored PC tutorials on sound recording and been elected music spokesperson for the South African Association of Professional Recording services 2000. She runs an elite studio in Jeffreys Bay that has recorded top musicians and artists from around the country. Bronwen also has an interest in fire fighting and medical rescue.

Paige Newmark: Brunch with the Bard

Paige was educated at impressive universities in England and America. He has taught and spoken all over the world, from Australia, England, America and South Africa on a variety of subjects in the theatrical world, but specialising in Shakespeare. He is currently the Artistic Director for the Shakespeare Society of Southern Africa. He is also a renowned director and actor on the international theatre scene, moving among others, Shakespeare, Mozart, Russel, and Ayckbourn from the page onto the stage .

Matthew Ribnick: Shaking Up Shakespeare

Matthew grew up on the border between Boksburg and Germiston in a 'twilight zone' of bizarre characters. After school he became the chief toilet cleaner on a ship that took him to far off places. One night, in the middle of the Arabian sea, he looked up to the stars and decided to become one himself. He went on to study drama at Wits University where he obtained an honours degree. After University he was indirectly employed by the New York mafia in a restaurant on Broadway where he worked for a few months. His most recent theatre work is his role in the critically acclaimed play The Chilli Boy. Other theatre work includes The Road and White Men in Buckets. Matthew's proudest achievement is his chilli tree plantation. He also just wants you to know that he makes a mean 'Aaloo fry' -- that's a spicy potato dish if you have to know.


Jaci, actor, singer, writer, director and producer studied a Bilingual Performer's Diploma at UCT and studied Opera under Wendy Fine and Sarita Stern(UCT). Some theatre highlights include - For Better for Wors directed by Dorothy Ann Gould, Pineapple Velvet, I love you, you're Perfect, Now Change Annie, HONK, Deon Opperman's Vere, Mark Graham's Fiela's Child and Martinus Basson's Macbeth and Boy meets Boy. She co-wrote The search for the perfect Dish, Tower of Tongues, She Gau, Virtual Bioscope (Musical) and For Better for Wors. She co-produced and directed Wood for the Trees. Later in the year she will direct Imbumba/Samesyn for the main festival Aardklop. She is currently one of the head writers for the Soul Buddyz series for SABC 2. Jaci also writes, directs and performs for various corporate theatre companies in Johannesburg and is a part time singing teacher at the National School of the arts.

Dominic Thorburn: A Walkabout of "David Krut: Collaborations with South African Artists"

Dominic is a professor in the Fine Art Department at Rhodes University where he heads the Graphic Art Section. He has studied abroad on a Fulbright Scholarship at the renowned Tamarind Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. As a winner of the ABSA Atelier Award he also spent a year as a resident artist at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Thorburn has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally, and his work is broadly represented in museum, corporate, and private collections. He is actively involved on many levels within the visual arts sector, having been an advisor for the NAC (National Arts Council) and is an Exco Member of ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council).

Workshop Leaders

Richard Antrobus: Mime... gesture and a whole lot more

Richard matriculated from St Andrews College in Grahamstown and completed his BA (Hons) in Drama at Rhodes University last year. As a student, he has performed part-time with the company since 2001. Richard was short-listed for the Rhodes Oxford scholarship in 2004. His other interests include mime, trampolining and teaching.

Nomathamsanqa (Thami) Baba: Music, Miracles and Wonder

Thami is a very down-to-earth gal. She enjoys spending time outdoors and loves being surrounded by nature. Her view of an ideal world is one in which everyone lives together in harmony. She is always interested in learning new things as she believes that one can never stop learning. Due to her bubbly personality, people are drawn to her. Thami is an assistant administrator trainee in the Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company and loves singing and dancing as it brings peace and joy to her soul.

Peter Barlow: Wired for News

Peter is in his second year of his Bachelor of Journalism. He is Chief Designer of Activate, the Rhodes University Student Newspaper, as well as part of the Editorial Design Team for Cue Magazine. His internships include work at 567 MW CapeTalk Radio in Cape Town (both co-producing the afternoon show and running it, and in the newsroom as a reporter), also working as a reporter for Die Eikestad Nuus in Stellenbosch. His specialisation and major interest centres on design and layout of both print and online publications.

Daniel Buckland: Punk-Classic Punch

Daniel Buckland studied drama at Rhodes University for four years and graduated with a first class honours degree. In this time he played lead and supporting roles in such plays as The Elephant Man, Through Blue, Hysteria, and Desolation Flowers. In the first year of his professional career Daniel appeared in productions of Against the use of Nature, The Lorax, The Mind Flying and the critically acclaimed Plunge (and many others) as a company member of the UBOM! Eastern Cape Drama Company. In 2003 Ubom! toured extensively throughout the Eastern Cape as well as the rest of South Africa. In 2004 Daniel performed in Mouthpeace's Fuse, which premiered at the National Arts Festival, played a season at the Edinburgh Festival in the Traverse Theatre, and finally toured the major city centres of South Africa. Fuse won the Naledi award for Best Cutting Edge Production and Daniel himself was nominated for best newcomer. He is now freelancing in Johannesburg. Wish him luck.

Luke Buckland: Critical Reasoning Combat

Luke graduated with a BA (Drama, Philosophy) & BA Honours (Philosophy): Rhodes University, PGCE: UNISA, MA (Philosophy): Wits University. He recently came back from the Nepal Himalayas, is currently a lecturer in the Wits and Rhodes University Philosophy Departments, and is studying formal logic through Unisa. He enjoys rock climbing and exploring the universe.

Noxolo Donyeli: Music, Miracles and Wonder

Nox is very passionate about the work that she does. She is a hard worker who enjoys a challenge and always stands up for her rights. Apart from being a very spiritual person, who trusts and believes in herself, she loves people and is always learning from others. Nox is currently involved in the Ubom! Obutsha Trainee project and also sings in the band Iliwa Laphakade.

Ruth Everson: Burn (See Lectures)

Nicola Haskins: Mime... gesture and a whole lot more

Nicky has an Honours Degree with distinction in Drama from Rhodes University. She has performed and choreographed for the company since 2002 and recently performed in Juanita Finestone-Praeg's 37 degrees of fear at the National Women's Festival in Johannesburg. She also teaches extensively and is currently engaged with other company members in conceptualising and executing an educational dance video.

Penny Ho Hin: Afro-Jazz

Penny completed her BA at Rhodes University last year with majors in Drama and English. She trained in the Cecchetti method of ballet from age five and also trained in traditional Chinese Dance and Kung Fu. Penny has performed for the company since 2003 and has also performed for numerous Rhodes Honours choreography students. Penny is keen to gain knowledge and experience in the fields of dance and theatre research and education

Ashraf Johaardien: Writing Bootcamp (See Lectures)

Natasha Joseph: Wired for News

Natasha Joseph has worked in newsrooms since she was 10 years old, first pretending to be a secretary, then playing messenger, and finally moving onto actual writing. She graduated from Rhodes University with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2003 and spent some time working as a freelance journalist before joining Rhodes University's Communications and Development Division earlier this year. Natasha has been published in the Cape Times, Seventeen, Stage, The Big Issue (Cape Town), Femina and the Laugh it Off Annual.

Shirley Kirchmann studied at UCT and obtained a performance diploma in Speech and Drama. Her local TV appearances include SOS, Madam and Eve, Fishy Fashions and Generations. She also performed comedy skit work for Phat Joe Live and a variety of local and international television ads. And no! She's not the Liquorice All Sorts Girl! Shirley has toured with The South African National Theatre for Youth and has played opposite Alan Committee in the The Clown Jewels. Recently, Shirley managed to land her first American movie role as the second shark attack victim in a low budget American movie, for television. Kirchmann's first play, Scratch, was co-written by Stacey Sacks and directed by Jose Domingos. It has toured South Africa extensively to capacity audiences and received critical acclaim. Shirley's second play Train your man opened at the Artscape Arena in June, directed by Anthea Thomson and featuring Garth Breytenbach.

Nonhlanhla ("Noni") Makhathini trained and performed with Ballet Theatre Afrikan from a young age, and recently, completed her Diploma in Dance at Tshwane University of Technology while guest dancing for Tshwane Dance Theatre. She has danced for some of South Africa's top choreographers and has performed, taught and choreographed throughout Europe with Austria's Dance Empire International. She has won multiple awards in ballet, spanish, contemporary dance and choreography, and joined the First Physical Theatre Company in January 2005.

Penny Ho Hin completed her BA at Rhodes University last year with majors in Drama and English. She trained in the Cecchetti method of ballet from age five and also trained in traditional Chinese Dance and Kung Fu. Penny has performed for the company since 2003 and has also performed for numerous Rhodes Honours choreography students. Penny is keen to gain knowledge and experience in the fields of dance and theatre research and education.

Raymond Maseko trained at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation from 2001-2003. He majored in ballet, American-based jazz and contemporary dance, including Graham and Horton techniques. Raymond has experience in gymnastics, tap and Afro-fusion. In 2004, Raymond worked with the Tswane Dance Theatre and has worked with noted choreographers Mandla Mncunu, Moya Michaels and Christie McMurray. He joined the First Physical Theatre Company in 2005

Mike Mati is the chairperson of the world reknown performing group, the President's Award Dance Company, which was established in 1991. He has performed abroad in London and in Germany and has also performed for several dignities such as Mr.R.N.Mandela, President T.Mbeki, HRH of Wessex and the Prince of England .Mike is currently working as an Administrator for the First Physical Theatre Company at the Rhodes University Drama Department.

Tisco Mati: Boot Beat

Tisco completed a First Physical Theatre Professional Training at Rhodes 2002. He won a silver medal in the SA final World Championships in Performing Arts. He toured England and Germany in 1995 and 1996. He has performed for Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. He was the Grahamstown Central Arts Forum Chairman in 2003. Tisco is a Ground Breaker for Love Life, he has a diploma in Sport Facilitation, is a fashion designer and is the Eastern Cape Basketball Coach for girls under 20. He is currently running a Basketball development programme in the Albany District.

Shelley Meskin: Make-up through the Ages

Shelley is a professional actress, singer, dancer and in the last 5 years has added make-up artistry to her list. Having studied at The Make-up School in Johannesburg, she went on to do masterclasses with MAC in Los Angeles and with Gary K back in Johannesburg, making sure she was constantly updating her craft. She has worked as a freelance make-up artist for various fashion photographers in and around Johannesburg as well as in Los Angeles from 2001 to 2002. She has worked in bridal, fashion and photographic make-up and over the last 5 years has been able to balance her two very different careers. Basing her make-up artistry in fashion has provided her with the experience to experiment with different styles and forms from the 20's through 2000. She is basing her workshops on this experience.

Toni Morkel: Impressive Improvisation

Toni is probably best known for her performances with Robyn Orlin, having workshopped and performed in thirteen Orlin productions, most recently When I touch the sky.... She is currently performing in Sylvaine Strike's The Travellers and has experience in many aspects of theatre. Toni has also worked as a stage manager, puppeteer and improvisor; she teaches mask making, and is the stage craft teacher at the Market Theatre Laboratory. Toni enjoys the process and challenge of creating new theatre. Notable productions co-created and performed include Two Straight Queers (for which she won the FNB/Tonight Comedy Actress of the Year), Fall, I catch you and Dinner and a Show, with Shirley and Mrs H. Other recent performances include performing French writer Copi's The Homosexual or the Difficulty of Expression for the French Institute in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Mongi Mthombeni: Physical Theatre 101

Mongi is an ex-Rhodes student running rampant with an honours degree in mime, directing, physical theatre and play studies. He was trained under Andrew Buckland and Phillipa de Villiers (a Le Coq mime instructor). He has performed with Andrew Buckland (touring Edinburgh festival), and Nicolas Ellenbogen (Theatre for Africa). Mongi currently teaches Physical theatre at the Cape Town Film school, AFDA. He recently auditioned for Cirque Du Soleil and is now an infamous performer on a global scale. He plans to take over the SA performance scene (violently if necessary), so catch him at this workshop while he's relatively unknown and still humble.

Toni Olivier: Sounds Crazy

Toni has been working in digital design, animation and multimedia for the past 15 years. She is self-taught and has no fancy letters behind her name. After learning how to design on computer, she co-created a digital art collection which was published internationally by software giant Corel. She currently manages the Rhodes University Web Unit. She established Studio for Interactive Sound as a way to fulfill her longing to invent interactive instruments and environments. In 2004 she traveled to The Netherlands where she worked with STEIM, and encouraged them to come to Grahamstown to collaborate with her on Sounds Crazy.

Meren Reddy: Crazy Clowning

Meren matriculated from The National School of the Arts in 1999. He has a B.A. degree in live performance from AFDA and is currently doing his honours at the same institute. In terms of work experience, he has toured the country with many shows namely The Farce, Got it Maid and physical performance shows, namely Skinner, Get it On, De Wets Dream, and Warmen, to name a few. All these works were either written by himself or workshopped.

Matthew Ribnick: Chill Out (See Lectures)

Luke Rous: Crazy Clowning

Luke is a physical performer, as well as an accomplished playwright, theatre creator, and accredited Sitcom writer/actor (UNICITY & E-TV). During his time at AFDA, where he received a Bachelor of Live Performance Honours, his finest hour came when he wrote, acted and co-directed his one man show, Spilling Beans, which has received critical acclaim and sold out houses. Other productions include De Wet's Dream, Fly and Mother of the Brides. Luke is currently the Creative Director of ROUS & REDDY Productions, a company that focuses on creating exciting theatre out of physical performance.

Joel Ryan: Sounds Crazy

Joel is a pioneer in the design of musical instruments based on real-time digital signal processing. Ostensibly from a scientific rather than a musical background, he deviated into philosophy before music, studying with among others Herbert Marcuse, Jose Baroso and Ravi Shankar. Later, under the tutelage of Robert Ashley and David Behrman at Mills College, he joined the community of artist hackers of the emerging Silicon Valley. Probably out of his work in physics, he developed an early interest in specifically digital electronics, taking on the problem of how to discover a natural dynamic in the digital media itself. Performance was the essential ingredient and challenges such as the intelligent touch of a performer and the physical limits of real instruments have been fundamental to his work in developing and playing electro-acoustic music. He currently works at STEIM in Amsterdam, and is a lecturer at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

Mike Smurthwaite: Radio-Active

Mike obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in 2000 majoring in Human Kinetics and Ergonomics and History and completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism at Rhodes University in 2001. Since then, Mike has been heavily involved with Rhodes, in particular, Rhodes Music Radio (RMR). In 2003/2004 he completed several courses namely: Certificate Course in Human Resources Management, Certificate Course in Strategic Management, Certificate in Marketing Management, Certificate in Financial Management and is currently studying an LLb through Unisa. He was Deputy Station Manager of RMR in 2001 and Music Manager of the station the same year. Since 2002, Mike has been the RMR Station Manager, with areas of responsibility including staff management and development, fundraising and advertising management and marketing and public relations. He is also a resident DJ at local club The Suite.

Alex Sutherland: Theatre Talk

Alex is a lecturer in drama at Rhodes University, where she specialises in drama for education and development. She is very interested in using drama for healing and community-building which is why she often finds herself making theatre in untheatrical places such as prisons and children's shelters. She also likes acting, but she doesn't get to do it often enough.

Dominic Thorburn: Printworx (See Lectures)

Christopher Weare: Let's Get Reel

Chris is an Associate Professor in the Drama Department at UCT. He is also Director of the Little Theatre. He teaches acting for stage and screen and directing for the stage. As Artistic Director of the Arena Theatre Company, Weare has created a number of new works including Pick Ups (1998), House of Usher (2002), Loveborg's Women (2003) and Frankenstein (2005). The Arena Theatre Company, in association with African Community Theatre Service staged Bonhoeffer by Peter Krummeck at the 2004 Festival. Bonhoeffer tours Canada in July and August 2005. Chris works extensively with Alan Committie and has directed works including Clown Jewels Two, Titanic On Ice, Dracula Unclotted and TV or Not TV.

Marcellus Welman: Music Making Madness

Marcellus has been involved in bands since he was eleven years old. He was elected Bandmaster at the age of fifteen years. He was involved in starting various music groups in fast track method in underprivileged areas. From the outset he was involved in the establishment of the Field Band Foundation and served on the National Board of Directors from 1997. During that year he established a local band called The Northern Eagles Field Band of which he was the band director. He was elected the Regional Director of the Eastern Cape Bands in 1999. This band has since won the National Championship title in 2000 and 2001, which is held annually in Johannesburg.