The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is hosting its fourth annual LGBTI arts festival, dubbed THATSOQUEER, this October.
According to the Artistic Director of the festival, Alby Michaels who was also responsible for “Reading Gay” in 2011 as well as the 2012 and 2013 instalments of “THATSOGAY”, the initial plan was to evolve the name of the festival to “THATSOLGBTI” in an effort to make the festival as inclusive as possible.
“When we sat down with our partners from Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) to talk through our programme for this year, we were prompted to consider the term ‘queer’ instead of the acronym we were planning to incorporate,” he revealed.
“Since queer in the current lexicon is use to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities without anyone getting into fisticuffs, we decided ‘THATSOQUEER’ served our warm and fuzzy intent even better. In fact nowadays queer is even used to describe unconventional cisgendered heterosexual identities,” he said.
UJ Arts & Culture launches THATSOQUEER on 7 October at 19:30 with a concert in the Arts Centre Theatre (Kingsway Campus) featuring Professor Federico Freschi, who is an acclaimed baritone, and Christopher Duigan on the piano.
Robert Hamblin’s The Colony
The duo have thrilled audiences nationwide with their particular blend of classical and popular music for over a decade, and recently performed to critical acclaim on the main programme of the 2014 National Arts Festival. With a focus on songs by Noel Coward and Cole Porter, the launch concert will include the vocal gymnastics of Rossini and popular songs and hits from Broadway musicals, interspersed with virtuoso pieces for the piano.
Freschi is also the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) at UJ and the Ambassador of the festival.
“One does not have to dig too deep beneath the surface of our constitutionally enshrined right to ‘difference’ to find a cold, vicious core of homophobia: its dark pathology lurks in ‘corrective’ rape; in the continued incidences of gay bashing; in the rising tide of fundamentalism throughout the world; whose sanctimonious embrace of religious or ostensible ‘family values’ is often little more than thinly-veiled prejudice and intolerance,” he said.
The following day, Robert Hamblin’s solo exhibition entitled The Colony (8 October – 12 November) opens in the Arts Centre Gallery. Hamblin’s cutting-edge photography has played an important role in gender politics nationally and globally.
The exhibition includes 260 dated ocean images representing the working days of the Western monetary system, a series of Western masculine characters with their reflections in the water at low tide and three videos exploring constructed identity within systems of patriarchy, masculinities and money.
The festival programme also includes a range of events presented by UJ student society Liberati, queer tours of Joburg and and workshops by GALA.
Performing arts highlights include the cabaret Boylesque directed by Alby Michaels (15 – 17 October), a staged reading of Looking for Normal (24 October) by Jane Anderson, directed by Jade Bowers, and a staged reading of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing (25 October), directed by Ashalin Singh.
GALA will hold a Queer Jozi drama workshop for UJ students on 18 October, and on 22 October the festival hosts K*k Funny: Queer edition, an ensemble comedy show.
There’s also a fashion show presented on 24 October. The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative rounds off the programme with an original dance work entitled H28 in memory of slain Ugandan gay rights activist, David Kato (30 & 31 October and 1 November).
For more information and all the details on the THATSOQUEER festival, download the full programme here. (Please note: the Queer Social Rugby listed in the programme has been cancelled)
THATSOQUEER (#TSQ) is presented by UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with UJ LIBERATI, UJFM 95.4, Gala and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) and WHAM! Mambaonline is the official media partner of the Festival. Visit the THATSOQUEER Facebook page.