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A scene from Molora.
The Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Drama and Film (Drama) returned from this year’s Grahamstown National Arts Festival (held from 29 June to 9 July) with no fewer than four accolades. Not only did its student production, Molora, bag a coveted Ovation Award, so did three productions staged by alumni students of the Department. 

Molora is Yael Farber’s adaptation of the Greek classical tragedy, The Oresteia, into a South African context by using the narrative framework of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Directed by Drama student, Kopano Maema, its directorial concept focuses on Elektra’s relationship with her mother (Klytemnestra), her brother (Orestes), her dead father (Agamemnon), her environment and the tragedies her broken family goes through.

Maema expressed his interpretation of Farber’s play through foregrounding the play’s key themes that raise questions about humanity, racial discrimination and reconciliation.

The rest of the cast included Zanele Mthombeni (Elektra), Clarrisa Diedericks (Klytemnestra), Bongani Thwala  (Orestes), and chorus members Kagiso Hlabane, Epileng Matlhaku, Sabelo Mthethwa and Zusakhe Nqame.

This production of Molora uses physical theatre, song, ritual and textual nuances to portray the essence and the world of the play.

The following alumni, who are all enrolled for M Tech studies at the Department, also won Standing Ovation Awards: Princess Mhlongo and the Plat4orm for directing Samthing Soweto (also the 2012 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Theatre); Calvin Ratladi for Silent Scars (also a Zabalaza Festival 2017 award winner) and Mariska Dennyschen, writer and director of Human Pieces II (also a winner of the 2015 Best Student Director Award at the Festival).

A proud Dr Janine Lewis, senior lecturer at the Department, says artistic innovation, excellence, the exploration of new performance styles and the courage to open new conversation through the arts, underpin the motivation for the winners of the Standard Bank Ovation Award.

"This is a great feat, considering that the Festival is an important event on the South African cultural calendar and the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent, offering more than 600 shows – from opera, cabaret, drama and jazz, to stand-up comedy and folk music.” 

The Grahamstown National Arts Festival is organised by the Grahamstown Foundation and attracts over 50 000 people each year. It is South Africa’s biggest arts and culture festival to date.

For more information on the Tshwane university of Technology, please contact Willa de Ruyter on tel: 012 382 5352 or send an email to deruyterw@tut.ac.za.