Performing arts have an outlet in Alexandra through the Twilight Theatre Organisation, which uncovers township talent and sets it on a career path.
THE Twilight Theatre Organisation, based in Alexandra, takes community or township theatre to the next level by exposing talent that would otherwise have remained unseen.
Theatre Night is Twilight Theatre Organisation's biggest drawcardTheatre Night is Twilight Theatre Organisation's biggest drawcard“We established Twilight Theatre in late 2005 because we came to the realisation that arts in our township weren’t getting recognition,” says the founder, Thabo Makgaretsa. “Our main goal was to create a platform for artists to practise their craft.
“It also gives them an opportunity to find something to do in the township other than wait for the government to help them.”
The organisation is the starting point of a career for these artists, many of whom go on to become well-known names in the industry. Harriet Manamela, who performed in Yesterday and Isidingo, is just one example of what Makgaretsa calls an “endless list”.
Not only is there a chance for exposure, but being part of Twilight Theatre enables young performers to earn some much-needed cash. “We were tired of doing shows with just food and T-shirts,” he says.
Now the organisation’s main focus is its Theatre Night, which has become its biggest attraction.
Twilight Theatre uses these nights as a way to “develop new faces within the arts”. The last Theatre Night was on 10 December 2010; it usually only happens once a year. Makgaretsa wants to change that, though, and identifies this as the organisation’s main aim this year.
“We are looking at having Theatre Night twice a year, with an extra show in September [during] Arts Alive, but I still need to do the proposal and meet with the people from Arts Alive to see if it is feasible,” he explains.
Theatre Night comprises a double bill, staging two plays in different genres so that “it is not boring for the audience”.
“We are taking things step-by-step by looking at where we started and building on it. There was no stage at our first Theatre Night performance. Things are only getting better for us as we get more exposure,” he says. “We are still based at the Thusong Youth Centre and there are no plans to move yet, even though the hall is getting too small.”
There are other events, too, however. “Our secondary focus is on industrial theatre, which is the latest educational tool used by corporates. We use this to focus on safety issues or on promoting the company’s brand,” says Makgaretsa. “We also do workshops about acting and drama, where we provide training for young people interested in drama.”
Twilight Theatre has eight permanent actors and a maximum of 15 freelance performers to carry out these tasks.
It also has a variety of sponsors that enable it to continue operating. The Joburg arts, culture and heritage directorate, PPC Cement and Joburg Setco are the main sponsors, with support given by Alex FM, Alex Pioneer News, Market Theatre, Southern Sun Hotels, Distell, Thusong Youth Centre and Hillside Digital.
The Thusong Youth Centre is at 138 – 11th Avenue, Alexandra.
Theatre night in Alex
Music welcomes arts fest
Alex youth get tourism training
Township theatre in Newtown
Market aids amateur plays
Joburg: art, culture and heritage