NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
Top young artists a treat for festival-goers
Trumpet, piano, ballet, theatre and visual art in the spotlight for 2019
The 2019 winners of the Standard Bank Young Artist (SBYA) Awards will treat audiences at the National Arts Festival to the sound of piano and trumpet, the sight of video and the thrill of ballet and theatre.
Brett Bailey, an SBYA alumnus from 2001, chairs the National Arts Festival artistic committee, which selects the SBYA winners.This year the winners are Mandla Mlangeni, Kitty Phetla, Megan-Geoffrey Prins, Amy Jephta and Gabrielle Goliath.
Each winner receives a cash incentive and a commission to premiere a new work or exhibit on the Main NAF programme in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) from June 27 to July 7. This is what audiences can look forward to:
Amy Jephta is a playwright who has also built a reputation as a filmmaker, activist and academic. A champion of theatre by and for women, she has been a driving force in local and global initiatives promoting opportunities for female playwrights.
Aside from her theatre work, she wrote the script for the film Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story and is editing a collection of plays by African women.
Kitty Phetla is the senior soloist and choreographer at Joburg Ballet and has toured and performed extensively on stages across the globe.
A career highlight was dancing the Dying Swan solo for Nelson Mandela and the Dutch royal family, but one of her most noteworthy recent performances was her Queen Modjadji-inspired Rain Dance for Cape Town, in situ at the then-parched Theewaterskloof Dam.
Mandla Mlangeni is a jazz trumpeter and composer who was selected for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band in 2006.
A gifted bandleader, Mlangeni has carved out a name for himself with various bands and ensembles, including the Amandla Freedom Ensemble, with which he has released two albums.
Gabrielle Goliath is a multidisciplinary artist who is known for sensitively negotiating complex social concerns in her work, particularly relating to gender-based and sexual violence.
Among this PhD candidate’s long-term performance projects is her Elegy series, where each iteration marks the absence of a woman or LGBTQI+ individual who has been raped and killed in South Africa.
Megan-Geoffrey Prins is a pianist who had performed with all South Africa’s major orchestras by the age of 14.
Today, while studying for his doctorate in music in Cleveland in the US, he traverses the world as a solo performer and chamber musician, often returning home for concerts, teaching and community outreach initiatives.
Former SBYA winners often reach great creative and professional heights. Since 1981, for example, winners have included Sibongile Khumalo, William Kentridge, Mbongeni Ngema, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Johnny Clegg, Vincent Mantsoe, Gregory Maqoma, Janice Honeyman, Helen Sebidi, Lara Foot, Darrell Roodt, Robyn Orlin, Jerry Mofokeng, Andrew Buckland, Sam Nhlengethwa and Marthinus Basson.
Fêted on the world’s stages and screens, in international galleries and concert halls, many are still actively working in – and enriching – South Africa’s creative economy.
Further information on the National Arts Festival website