Magnet Theatre Presents Rocking the Cradle Festival as Part of ASSITEJ's Cradle of Creativity Congress and Theatre Festival

Magnet Theatre Presents Rocking the Cradle Festival as Part of ASSITEJ's Cradle of Creativity Congress and Theatre Festival
Magnet Theatre will host a Rocking the Cradle, a
festival within a festival, focusing on theatre for
early years audiences. This photograph is from
Magnet Theatre's production of AHA!
Photo credit: Mark Wessels

Magnet Theatre will host a fringe showcase of theatre for early years audiences in Observatory, Cape Town, from 24 - 26 May as part of the Cradle of Creativity, the 19th ASSITEJ World Congress and International Theatre Festival for Children and Young People in Cape Town from 17 - 27 May.

This will be the first ASSITEJ World Congress to be held on the African continent since the inception of ASSITEJ in 1965. The event will be not only a South African event but also as a truly African one, focusing on what the continent has to offer in terms of theatre for young audiences. As Africa is the cradle of humankind, so this Congress will be a "Cradle of Creativity" for ASSITEJ, as well as for theatre for young audiences on the continent and across the world.

What better way is there for children to be given the space to dream and to live out their dreams than through theatre? The International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ) is dedicated to ensuring that every child everywhere is able to encounter opportunities for dreaming through the live performing arts.

ROCKING THE CRADLE has been conceived of as a way to give more South African theatre-makers who are not on the main festival programme an opportunity to present their work, network with an audience of international delegates and artists. and engage with producers of festivals and theatres from around the world that engage with theatre for young audiences, with the chance of being picked up for touring internationally. Part of the showcase will involve a group of international, high-profile leaders in the field of theatre for children watching the work and commenting in a final panel discussion at the end of the three-day showcase on 26 May. This panel will also be open to the public.

The productions included in Rocking the Cradle are scheduled to include three or four shows a day.

On 24 and 26 May at 09:30, SCOOP - subtitled a kitchen play for carers and babies - caters for audiences from 3 weeks to 12 months old. Produced by Magnet Theatre, SCOOP is the first ever South African baby play. Four performers trained in connecting with the very young they engage with right carers and babies in a contained custom built tent, taking the youngest audiences on an enchanting journey designed to interest, surprise and soothe. SCOOP is directed by Koleka Putuma, assisted by Jennie Reznek, and was created by the company, which consists of Sivuyile Dunjwa, Jason Jacobs, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe and Indalo Stofile.

THE WILLOW PATTERN TALE, aimed at children of 10 to 12 years of age, performs on 24 May at 10:30. In 1790, Thomas Minton designed and engraved The Willow Pattern for the Caughley porcelain factory in Shropshire, England. He created a romantic story based on the motifs of the design. Jill Joubert brings the story alive once again in an intimate setting, using beautifully crafted puppets.

At 13:00 on 24 May, PAIRED - for 2 to 7 year-olds - sees a group of shoes, each journeying to find its pair, searching for a partner and longing to belong. Four actors invite us to the shoe party, which is playful, inventive and full of soul. PAIRED was created with the support of Goethe Institute and Helios by the 2016 Magnet Theatre intern trainees along with theatre-making intern Lwanda Sindaphi as director. The performers include Natasha Gana, Lievi Ncanywa, Lwanda Magwaca and Meagan Booysen.

Created by Pillow Fort Productions, JUST HERE performs at 15:00 on 24 May. Suitable for audiences of 2 to 5 years of age, JUST HERE is a unique piece of puppetry theatre about a little someone called Kodu heading out into the world and making it her own. The production meets the young audience eye-to-eye and mind-to-mind. Presented by the company that developed the highly acclaimed PATCHWORK, which is on the main programme of the Cradle of Creativity, JUST HERE was first presented at the Hamedan Festival in Iran. Directed by Gabriel Marchand, the piece is performed by Asanda Rilityana and Roshina Ratnam.

On 25 May at 09:30, WOODWAYS is aimed at audience members from the ages of 2 to 7. Seeds, roots, trees, firewood, sticks and paper: these are the ways of wood. WOODWAYS takes young audiences on an adventure. In a relaxed and happy atmosphere, the actors - Alumbe Hellen Collins, Kento Jumah and Fokumlah Burnley Yay, who hail from Cameroon and Kenya - and the audience are drawn together gaining insight into the world of the wood. Recently returned from performances in Italy, WOODWAYS is presented by Shazama from Yaounde Cameroon and is created with the support of Magnet Theatre, Helios and the Goethe Institute. The production is directed by Sophia Mempuh Kwachuh.

Well Worn Theatre Company's RAT RACE, for children of 4 to 6 years of age, will be performed on 25 May at 12:00. A pop-up storybook play about an unlikely friendship between stressed-out city rat, Miles, and kind, easy-going farm mouse, Melissa, RAT RACE is a comic play with music, clowning, puppetry, illustrations and physical theatre that tells a colourful 'tail' about Big Changes in Little Lives. Directed by Kyla Davis, the piece is performed by Roberto Pombo and Ameera Patel.

SPACE ROCKS, which will appeal to the 6 to 8-year-olds, is at 14:30 on 25 May. JoJo and Jinks build a spacecraft in their bedroom and go on a magical adventure, in search of a "better planet" than Earth. With a blend of mythology and science, this play explores how children learn through play, and find hidden strengths within as they take their first steps towards independence. Produced by Flying House, SPACE ROCKS is directed by Athena Mazarakis and written by Tamara Guhrs.

At 10:15 on 26 May, KNOCK - a play for the 2 to 7-year-olds - sees four performers enter and explore the natural material of wood: its sounds, what it can do, and what it can make. Stimulating for the imagination, the cast creates strange, magical animals and images with wonderfully shaped pieces of forest wood. Using few words, it includes a rhythmic and creative interaction with the children. Created by Magnet Theatre, with support from the Goethe Institute and Helios, KNOCK is directed by Jennie Reznek, with Lwando Magwaca, Livie Ncanywa and Athenkosi Mfamela in the company.

CLOUD CATCHER, which is targeted at audiences of 7 to 9 years of age, takes place on 26 May at 12:30. The story follows the adventures of Buhle, a young girl from Langa Township, Cape Town who decides to end the dreaded drought once and for all. A delightful blend of education and entertainment with a strong message of hope, resilience and empowerment. Directed by Richard Antrobus, CLOUD CATCHER features Asiphe Lili.

Aimed at 2 to 7-year-olds, AHA! takes place on 26 May at 14:45. A box arrives in an empty space. What could be inside? Aha! Wool! Pulling out the thread, the actors weave themselves and the children into the wondrous world of wool. Directed by Nwabisa Plaaitjie, Magnet Theatre's show recently toured to Germany and wowed audiences in the Helios Theatre Festival "hellwach 2017". The company includes Beviol Swartz, Emmanuel Ntsamba Zizipho Quluba and Luthando Mvandaba.

Tickets for the shows at Rocking the Cradle cost R65 for adults, R40 for children, students and pensioners and R30 for school bookings or block bookings of more than ten people. Tickets can be bought directly at the Magnet Theatre with cash at the door. No credit card facilities are available, but EFTs can be arranged for block bookings. The Magnet Theatre is located on the corner Lower Main Road and St. Michael's Road in Observatory.

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