MAXEKE is a new puppetry and object theatre production which brings the worlds and words of intellectual, activist and artist Charlotte Maxeke to life, as a means through which to reimagine our collective future in new ways.
Directed by Itumeleng wa Lehulere, MAXEKE is brought to us by the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR), University of the Western Cape, in collaboration with the Ukwanda Puppets and Design Collective, MAXEKE is based on an original script by Buhle Ngaba and PhD research by former CHR fellow, Dr Thozama April, with musical direction by Neo Muyanga, puppetry direction by Aja Marneweck, and projection design and creation by Kirstin Cummings. The production premieres at the Star Theatre at the District Six Homecoming Centre (formerly the Fugard Theatre) on the 7th February until the 11th February 2023.
Re-imagining Maxeke’s ideas and life’s work through puppetry arts, combines memory, history and object theatre to breathe life into the story of an extraordinary South African woman. The original rod puppets for the production are created by the Ukwanda Puppets and Design Collective with Ukwanda’s Luyanda Nogondlwana as head designer in collaboration with master puppet maker, Adrian Kohler of Handspring Puppet Company. Kinetic objects and puppetry combine with set and lighting design by Patrick Curtis and Kirsti Cumming’s multimedia projections to drive the visual world of the production which cuts between past and present. Neo Muyanga’s re-working of the musical legacies of the famous African Jubilee Choir are also brought to life by a stellar cast of singers, musicians and puppeteers led by Babalwa Zimbini, Noxolo Blandile, Carlo Daniels, Ntando Ngcume, Vuyolwethu Dunge, Marty Kintu, Sipho Ngxola and Siphokazi Mpofu.
MAXEKE: “This work is not for yourselves” is generously supported by the A.W. Mellon Foundation grant for the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), the National Research Foundation (NRF), as well as the National Arts Council of South Africa, the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme, and the Western Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.