Budding young stars inspired to perform

Intense week-long programme aims to fuel passion for the big stage

Sonwa Sakuba, centre, demonstrating warmup exercises before rehearsals start during Sakuba's week-long performing arts intensive. The programme started on Monday and will culminate in a showcase performance on Saturday at The Mustard at 6.30pm.
Sonwa Sakuba, centre, demonstrating warmup exercises before rehearsals start during Sakuba's week-long performing arts intensive. The programme started on Monday and will culminate in a showcase performance on Saturday at The Mustard at 6.30pm.
Image: MADELEINE CHAPUT

Theatre-artist extraordinaire Sonwa Sakuba has been hard at work teaching youngsters in East London all about the performing arts in an intensive week-long session, and hopes his students will wow audiences with a performance at The Mustard on Saturday.

The programme, which started on Monday, has seen 12 theatre loving youngsters, aged between six and 21, learn everything from script writing and stage direction to acting, singing and dancing.

“While choreographing for and working on The Jungle Book I realised that there were so many kids that have never been in a rehearsal space before and never actually worked on a production before.

“I realised they didn’t know how to audition or sing in an ensemble and I wanted to teach these skills,” said Sakuba, 27.

“I realised they didn’t know how to audition or sing in an ensemble and I wanted to teach these skills,” said Sakuba, 27.

The training programme is the first week-long event under Sakuba’s Performing Arts Foundation, and when the Daily Dispatch visited their rehearsal space at St Marks Church on Wednesday, the group had their eyes glued on their mentor, Sakuba, who was demonstrating a series of warmup exercises.

From leg raises to vocal warmups, the students mimicked their teacher in preparation for the day’s work ahead.

“Rehearsals can be very long and every hour or so you’re doing something different and working towards a particular goal.

“I want to give them a taste of what working on a production is like and instill the discipline and abilities needed when working on a project for an entire day,” said Sakuba.

While focusing on enhancing skills in the performing arts, the intensive also aims to expose youngsters to influential South African artists and performers.

“I’ve really enjoyed teaching the kids about South African artists and the feats they had to overcome to achieve their goals.

“Most of the kids didn’t know much about South African theatre when we started, and there is actually some amazing talent that has come out of this country,” said Sakuba.

One of the children taking part in the programme, Inathi Mpulampula, 14, said: “It’s such an amazing platform and opportunity to learn new skills and improve.”

From Mango Groove, Brenda Fassie and Kaapse Klopse to gumboot dancing and musical extracts from District Six, the group tackled material from some of South Africa’s finest.

Rehearsing songs, choreography and scripts throughout the week, the youngsters have also produced their own original scripts which will also be performed at the showcase.

“I’m really looking forward to the after-effects of this week. I’ve tried to give the kids hope and to show them that you can achieve great things in the performing arts as a South African,” said Sakuba, who added that the intensive also served as a feeder into the end-of-year-Pantomime.

l The showcase performance takes place at The Mustard in Balfour Road, Vincent on Saturday at 6.30pm.

Tickets are R100 per person and will be available at the door or can be booked by contacting Sakuba on 071-871-2746.

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