Where most gay festivals are big on glitter, sequins, camp shows and pink drinks THATSOGAY, this September and October at the University of Johannesburg, is the exception.
Why would a festival that aims to promote human rights, respect and equality use homophobic language in its title? The phrase “that’s so gay” is a derogatory expression commonly used to denote things perceived to be alien, different or undesirable.
LGBTIQA is an ever-expanding alphabet soup of an acronym and not nearly catchy or quirky enough to capture the curious thing we hope to achieve with this festival,” says Festival Director, Alby Michaels, explaining that UJ Arts & Culture’s THATSOGAY Festival aims to reappropriate the term and also to foreground and interrogate notions of “gayness” in relation to the LGBTIA + C community.
Once again bold and provocative theatre productions are at the core of the Festival but for 2013, UJ Arts & Culture has brokered a range of new partnerships that will see a robust expansion of the programme beyond the Con Cowan Theatre.
New offerings include art exhibitions at the Kingsway and FADA galleries, cabaret, comedy and poetry at POPArt Performing Arts Centre, dance by the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) as well as a range of social events hosted at Ratz Bar in Melville and Queer Joburg Tours by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA). The Distell Foundation, supporting arts development in South Africa has also come on board to sponsor beverages for THATSOGAY openings.
#THATSOGAY 2013 programme highlights:
ELEGY is a solo exhibition by Christiaan Diedericks at the UJ Art Gallery (UJ Kingsway Campus) which opens on 04 September and has a special extension week for #THATSOGAY from 23 September. Diedericks presents contemporary issues as timeless, by situating his vocabulary of images and themes in an organic flux of dreams, history, news, commercial detritus, hyper-reality, and unvoiced feelings and forces of biological nature/desire.
CRITICALLY QUEER is a group exhibition curated by Jabulani Chen Pereira and co-curated by Mariapaola McGurk featuring artists Jabulani Chen Pereira, Neo Musangi, Kelebogile Ntladi, Dean Hutton, Dineo Seshee Bopape and Tyna Adebowale at the FADA Gallery (UJ Bunting Campus) from 10 to17 September. The exhibition invites visitors to gaze and interpret various elements of queerness as it relates to the body, identities, desire, sexuality and subversive visual expressions. There is a walkabout of the exhibition on Saturday 14 September at 15:00.
MYSTERIOUS SKIN is a stage adaptation of Scott Heim’s acclaimed novel adapted by Prince Gomolvilas. Eighteen-year-old Brian gets nosebleeds—and blackouts. New York hustler Neil gets paid for sex—with older men. Alien abductee Avalyn gets lonely—and wants her next close encounter. As the story unfolds, the characters’ parallel lives come crashing together to unlock the past and to uncover the terrifying and heart-breaking truth. The reading is directed by Alby Michaels at the Con Cowan Theatre (UJ Bunting Campus) on 26 September at 19:30.
In STOP KISS by Diana Son, Callie meets Sara and the two unexpectedly fall in love. Their first kiss provokes a violent attack that transforms their lives in a way they could never anticipate. The reading is directed by Jade Bowers, also at the Con Cowan Theatre on 27 September at 19:30.
In CALLUM’S WILL, written and directed by Janna Ramos-Violante, is presented by Thinskin and features Darren King alongside Clinton Small, an awkward first encounter evolves into a deep and lasting friendship which neither expect nor understand. There are four performances in the UJ Arts Centre Theatre (Kingsway Campus) from 02 October at 19:30.
Making a Johannesburg debut following its South African premier at the National Arts festival in Grahamstown is CRY HAVOC written by Tom Coash and directed by Alby Michael with designs by Angela Nemov and lighting by Oliver Hauser. CRY HAVOC runs from 08 to 21 October nightly at 19:30 in the Con Cowan Theatre.
Dance & Cabaret
The annual Dansbytes Programme presented by The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) takes on an exciting and provocative LGBTI focus as QUEER DANSBYTES: an explosion of fearless imagination and the freedom to be “other” in the Con Cowan Theatre from 24 to 26 October.
BOYLESQUE is a tongue in cheek variety show paying tribute to 1930’s and 40’s American style burlesque comedy and striptease performances. Presented by POPArt Theatre and Performing Arts Centre and directed by Stanimir Stoykov the cast includes Gabriella Cirillo, Sibu Radebe, Bradley Peter and Stanimir Stoykov. BOYLESQUE runs from 3 to 15 September at 20:00 (Sunday matinees at 15:30). Bookings: www.popartcentre.co.za/book-tickets.
Unless otherwise stated, tickets are available from Computicket. The full festival programme will be available for download at http://www.uj.ac.za/en/artsandculture from 10 September. For more information, pre-bookings or group bookings please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 559 3058.