Busy Start to 2016 for Junkets - Junkets10Series Launch, 10th Birthday Celebration, Awards and More!

Robin Malan, Gay Morris, Bongani Pontsana and
Andi Mgibantaka at the Junkets10Series launch

It has been a busy couple of months for Junkets, with the independent publishing company recently holding the Junkets10Series launch along with its tenth birthday party, adding several new titles to its catalogue and celebrating its authors and compilers in awards ceremonies across the country.

The Junkets10Series launch was hosted at Springfield Convent School in the Farringer Library. Beginning with a pathway of performances leading from the school car-park to the library, guests at the launch were able to see the school's Dramatic Arts pupils performing different monologues from the Junkets compilation NOW I AM ALONE, of which the Dramatic Arts teacher at the school, David Fick, was a co-compiler along with Robin Malan and Diana Wilson. Described by Malan - who has been the driving force behind Junkets - as a series of "living, breathing, moving Caryatids", this introduction to the evening was indicative of Springfield's interest in drama, fuelled by the innovative enthusiasm of Fick, which was perfectly supported by the school librarian, Jenni le Roux, and the active enthusiasm of the school's principal, Barbara Houghton.

Present at the Launch, apart from the above staff and drama students of the school, were playwrights, actors, directors, librarians, friends of Junkets, all gathered to celebrate the launch of five new playscripts in this tenth year of Junkets Publisher, the only South African publisher devoted to publishing new South African plays, generally by young South African playwrights.

Laura Kelly performs as a part one of the "living,
breathing, moving Caryatids" at the Junkets10Series
Launch at Springfield Convent School.

Associate Professor Gay Morris, formerly of the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town, was the Guest Speaker. She attested to the fact that contemporary non-mainstream South African theatre - especially township theatre - is very much a collaboration between writers or 'scripters' and actors, working together towards an agreed common goal, the finished theatre piece.

Several examples of exactly that theatre-making process were in evidence in the books being launched. NDENDILE, for example, was devised and developed by the six members of My Home Theatre Productions from an idea presented to them by Sinoxolo Sno Cezula, who directed them. Even after presenting the play at two different festivals, there was still no written script. It was only when Junkets wanted to publish the play that one of the actors, Bongani Pontsana, undertook to produce a text. UHM..., a play created by the six-member Papercut Collective, involved much improvisation, debate and brainstorming before the company appointed two of their members, Callum Tilbury and Alex McCarthy. as the writers of the final script.

Joanna Evans warmly acknowledged the work of her two actors, Amy Louise Wilson and Aphiwe Livi, in helping her to give form and shape to her script of THE YEAR OF THE BICYCLE, while Philip Rademeyer worked very closely with his two actors in ASHES, Stefan Erasmus and Jason Jacobs both in creating the original English language version of the play as well as the then "in process" Afrikaans reworking of the play, AS.

New theatre-makers Jason Jacobs, Philip Rademeyer
and Callum Tilbury together with veteran playwright
Fatima Dike at the Junkets10Series launch

At the other end of the spectrum, the late Peter Krummeck gathered his prospective cast together in his flat to read his first-draft text of IVIRGIN BOY, so that he could hear whether what he had written lived once it had been lifted from the page. The gathering learned this from his friend, television director Tamara Semevsky, who was there to speak about the play, which was the first published in the Junkets10Series.

The forthcoming LAST COW STANDING represents a different creative process, as the writer Menzi Mkhwane is also the solo performer, performing twelve different characters, as well as aging his central character from 10 at the start of the play to 17 at the end. So, his only collaboration is the special one with his director.

Yet another form of collaboration was that undertaken by Kline Smith in MOB FEEL. Here, he 'collaborated' with the late Can Themba, adapting the short story, "Mob Passion," for the stage. Smith decided to use just two male actors, a female singer and a male musician to tell this township Romeo-and-Juliet story from the 1950s. The two very adept actors not only switched genders, ages and characters, but on occasion each played the same character.

Following the speech by Morris and the presentations of the plays by the theatre-makers, their friends and colleagues, a futher development in the Junkets story was announced. With Junkets completing its tenth birthday year, the company was handed over to long-time Junkets employee, Andisiwe Mgibantaka. Mgibantaka will become the Operational Manager of Junkets, with Malan remaining on board as the Editorial Manager. Mgibantaka closed the event by giving thanks to everyone present in isiXhosa.

Gay Morris, the Guest Speaker, addresses the
Junkets10Series launch in the sit-around area at
the heart of the Farringer Library at Springfield

With the South African theatre scene immersed in awards seasons, Junkets also extends their congratulations to the following theatremakers who have worked with the company over the years. At the Zabalaza Theatre Festival awards ceremony, Malan himself was awarded with a Special Token of Appreciation thanks to his work in publishing plays that have debuted on that platform.

At the Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, Jill Levenberg, who was a cast member of IVIRGIN BOY, won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical or Music Theatre Show for ORPHEUS IN AFRICA. The Special Award for Innovation in Theatre was presented to Zabalaza Theatre Festival, which is represented in the Junkets catalogue by five BaxterJunkets playscripts of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival Winners, namely WORST OF BOTH WORLDS (Bulelani Mabutyana), SKIERLIK (Phillip M Dikotla) THE CHAMPION (Khayalethu Anthony), FRUIT (Paul Noko) and TIP-EX (Lauren Hannie). Andrew Buckland, whose work is featured in both NOW I AM ALONE volumes, was nominated for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Play for TOBACCO AND THE HARMFUL EFFECTS THEREOF; Christo Davids (co-writer of BULLETS OVER BISHOPS LAVIS), Jason Jacobs (one of the cast members of ASHES) and Paul Noko (the playwright of FRUIT) were all nominated for the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for New Directors; IVIRGIN BOY cast member Marty Kintu was nominated for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Play for his work in BLUE/ORANGE; THE VIEW and ASHES playwright Philip Rademeyer was a joint nominee for Best New South African script, with Penelope Youngleson for SIEMBAMBA; and Jennie Reznek, the co-compiler the Magnet Theatre's MIGRATION PLAYS was nominated for Best Performance in a Revue, Cabaret or One-person Show, Best New South African Script and Best Performance by a Lead Actress in a Play.

Philip Rademeyer introduces his play, ASHES,
at the Junkets10Series launch.

At the Naledi Theatre Awards, which have yet to be presented, Duncan Buwalda's HINTERLAND has been nominated for Best New South African Script, Best Production of a Play, Best Director of a Play (Caroline Smart) and the Brett Goldin Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough (Sipho Mahlatshana); ABNORMAL LOADS playwright Neil Coppen has seen a production he directed, SHORT, STORIES, ALIVE, nominated for Best Production for Young Audiences, while his play TIN BUCKET DRUM has earned Warona Seane a nomination for Best Female Performance in a Play; SKIERLIK playwright Phillip M Dikotla has been nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his work on FISHERS OF HOPE (TAWARET); the playwright of THE YEAR OF THE BICYCLE, Joanna Evans, has been nominated for the Best Emerging Voice, while PATCHWORK, which she directed has been nominated as Best Production for Children; Khayelihle Dom Gumede's CREPUSCULE has been nominated for Best New South African Script, Best Director of a Play (the playwright himself), Best Costume Design (Thando Lobese), Best Lighting Design (Nomvula Molepo), Best Original Choreography (Nhlanhla Mahlangu), Best Supporting Actress (Thami Ngoma) and Best Supporting Actor (Conrad Kemp); Janice Honeyman (whose work is showcased in both AFRICAN FOLKTALES ONSTAGE! volumes) has been nominated as Best Director of a Musical (for SISTER ACT) and Menzi Mkhwane (playwright of LAST COW STANDING) has been nominated for the Brett Goldin Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough for A VOICE I CANNOT SILENCE.

At the SAFTAs AND WGSA Muse Awards, EVERYBODY ELSE (IS FUCKING PERFECT) playwright Karen Jeynes's work on ZANEWS helped to propel the show to winning awards as the Best TV Comedy Series, for which the show was also nominated for a Grammy Award. AMy Jephta (OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES and ALL WHO PASS) was a joint winner at the KKNK Kannas for Best Direction.

All in all, the first quarter of 2016 has been both busy and successful for Junkets. For more details about the play scripts that have been published by Junkets or to place orders of the texts themselves, visit the Junkets website or contact Junkets by email.

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