South Africa: WALE 4.0 goes over the edge with expansive programme

By Own Correspondent – The Wits Arts & Literature Experience is going over the edge in 2011, with an expanded programme that’s set to cement its standing as a proudly Joburg festival.

Known this year simply as WALE 4.0, the festival gets underway on May 11th with Witsies On Parade – a spectacular, burlesque-themed parade that will move through the university’s different campuses. Recalling the Rag processions of old, now dialed up to the 21st century, Witsies On Parade will be cross-faculty, immediately emphasising the more wide-ranging aspect of WALE 4.0’s programming.

“Although WALE is built around the artistic, literary and intellectual achievements of Wits alumni, staff, students, this year, the programme will feature a considerable number of collaborations with different Wits faculties as well as other institutions,” says Professor Tawana Kupe, WALE Founder and Champion in Chief.

“In creating the programme for WALE 4.0 the emphasis has been on collaboration as well as throwing open the doors of Wits to all Joburgers to come and experience a truly great festival, right on their doorstep. It’s about opening up the festival, broadening its offering and tipping it over the edge.”

Once again covering world-class music and literature, cutting-edge dance and theatre, film screenings, exhibitions, seminars, and workshops, WALE 4.0 also offers Joburg audiences the chance to be the first to see many new creative works.

One of these will be in the Wits Main Theatre where the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative will premier a new full length work created by leading South African choreographer and Artist-in-Residence, Athena Mazerakis.

The visual theatre production, “Planet B” directed by Helen Iskander presented by Fresco Theatre and Well Worn and showing in The Nunnery is another new production to watch out for.

Among the inter-disciplinary programme elements will be a collaboration between Wits’ visual arts and music departments through a project that combines digital art with soundscapes. On the filmside, the art of time lapse film will be a focus during the festival, through both a new 20-minute time-lapse film as well as a project that will capture WALE 4.0 through the eye of a time lapse camera. More cutting-edge drama will come from a collaborative piece by the Wits Theatre, the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and the Sibikwa Arts Centre. The latter’s Phyllis Klotz will guest direct what promises to be one of WALE 4.0’s centerpieces.

These and a whole range of other projects are currently being confirmed by the new WALE team which includes Ashraf Johaardien, General Manager of the Wits Theatre and Jade Bowers, the Artistic Director of WALE 4.0.

Says Johaardien, “Over the past three years WALE has built itself into one of the country’s best festivals – on a very limited budget. This year we’re proud to say that we’re doubling the programming offering even though WALE remains self-funded for the time being. I think it
speaks volumes about the belief of the university, the creative community and audiences that we have reached this point.”

For Bowers, the chance to grow South Africa’s only university-specific festival is something she feels passionate about. “WALE has established itself as a defiantly Wits festival and will always remain
a highlight of the university’s calendar. But this year we’re throwing open the gates of Wits and going over the edge, into new spaces, with different partners to create a programme that has something for all Joburgers.”

Voice of Wits (90.5FM), which was newly invigorated in 2010, is joining WALE 4.0 as its on-air partner, adding to the reach of the festival within the Wits and Joburg community.

The full programme will be announced during March 2011.