THIS year’s Pansa Young Performers Project for 2015, Soldiers in the City, is a homegrown work created by Themi Venturas, Iain “Ewok” Robinson and Lucky Cele.
Running at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from Friday to July 12, the show — which is funded by the KZN Department of Arts and Culture and Rainbow — engages with the new emerging urban youth culture.
The story centres on two best friends, both excellent poets, who compete in an underground slam-poetry challenge, where they realise that words can be sharper and more dangerous than swords, and that forgiveness and loyalty are more valuable than glory.
Soldiers in the City examines the overt culture of the new generation which includes rhyming, beat-box, urban dance music and public artwork like graffiti, much like the popular Step Up movie series.
The music is performed to a live band, The Reals, and the song list includes: Read All About It by Emile Sande, What a Piece of Work is Man from the musical Hair, Soldier in the City by Aloe Blacc, My City by Toya De Lazy and Casper Nyovesi, Born for This by HHP, Liquideep and Teargas, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, Seasons of Love from the musical Rent, Something Inside so Strong by Labi Liffre and Lira, I’m only Human by Christina Perri-Human, Boss Zonke by Ricky Rix, Battle Cry by Imagine Dragons, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, Lean on Me by Bill Withers, Roar by Katy Perry, One Tribe by the Black Eyed Peas and Union by Sting and the Black Eyed Peas.
The poetry for the rap battles has been written by Robinson.
“It is clear that more and more young people want to control their own destiny,” said director Venturas. “This can be seen in the new youth culture, in the ‘K’ generation, which is full of revolutionary zeal and despondent anger directed at the older generation, who they perceive as having not done enough to change their lives materially.”
Open auditions were held at Glenwood High School and at the Hexagon in Pietermaritzburg to gather the best musical-theatre high-school performers to make up the cast. Spearheaded by Pansa (the Performing Arts Network of South Africa), the project gives pupils a taste of working in the professional musical-theatre arena.
Previous projects have included Grease, Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, The Wiz, Annie, School of Rock SA, Hairspray, Seussical, Legally Blonde, Can You Feel It? and last year’s Footloose.
Booking is at Computicket and Shoprite Checkers stores. — Arts Editor
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