Gibson Kente to be honoured posthumously

SOWETO THEATRE is excited to announce that The Red Theatre will be renamed to Gibson Kente Theatre (Auditorium).

The historic renaming ceremony will be conducted at Soweto Theatre on February 26, 2023.
The launch programme will consist of an inaugural Annual Gibson Kente Lecture, Gibson Kente curated gallery that is dedicated to the memory of this prolific librettist, playwright. Thematically, we have decided to use the ballads that he wrote for the musicals that he produced, over a period of thirty years, says a press release from Soweto Theatre.
A Musical Tribute by a star-studded line-up from South African renowned performers Dieketseng Mnisi, Hlengiwe Dlamini and Gugu Shezi, accompanied by a 4-piece band directed by music director, arranger, producer and violinist Tshepo Mngoma, this musical program will also feature the Soweto Theatre Youth Orchestra playing some of the finest show-tunes that were composed by ‘Bra Gib’ and will incorporate selected acts from Kente’s famous plays with more of his popular music.

This will showcase carefully constructed melodies; spectacular instrumentals and thoroughly constructed lyrics evoking memories of the times and life of ‘Bra Gib’, simply taking us down memory lane.
The decision to rename the main auditorium (Red Theatre) at Soweto Theatre in honour of Gibson Kente was taken by the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Council, to recognise his immense contribution to township theatre, a playwright who became the gateway to a narrative that spoke of characters in the periphery of society. 
The line of speakers to grace the event will include The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Thapelo Amad, MMC: Community Development Lubabalo Magwentshu, Chairperson of JCT Board Zane Meas, Vincent Mntambo a businessman, born and raised in Soweto who will unpack the significance of this wordsmith and Peter Se-puma, a well-known actor, playwright and director who worked with ‘Bra Gib’ in a Production called ISIKHALO’.
‘We are so delighted with this honour, given to this prolific writer and director. His footprints are visible everywhere, there is a litany of stars that were trained by this iconic man of words.

He had buckets of generosity, was able to mentor the young and helped so many to hone their voices, ‘ said Chief Executive Officer of Joburg City Theatres Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema. 
There is a beautiful symbolism that is attached to this renaming of the Red Theatre into the Gibson Kente Theatre. 

The Soweto Theatre continues to celebrate its 10th year milestone and to have the legacy of this wordsmith attached to the theatre is truly symbolic.

There are multitudes of people who will be delighted by this recognition of Bra Gib, he ushered a very crucial era that saw the emergence of Black narrative on our stages, country-wide.

To think that he was able to tour the productions he created during a very bleak time in our country, when we had the influx control law is just astounding”, said MMC for Community Development, Lubabalo Magwentshu.
Known as the father of black theatre, Kente made township theatre popular and attracted international audiences during the apartheid era, using it as a form of expression during a time when black people were subject to oppression with no human rights.
In the 1960s he started a Theatre company and became the founding father of “Township Theatre” where he produced some of his notable work at the time such as Manana, The Jazz Prophet, Sikalo, and How Long in the 1970s, which referenced the Soweto Uprising and a musical in the late 1980s called Sekunjalo.
His musicals were a break from township life which became an inspiration for a generation of artists who followed, including Peter Se-puma, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Mbongeni Ngema, and the late Brenda Fassie just to name a few.

Before his untimely passing in 2004, it is estimated that Kente trained about 400 artists and produced about 23 plays and three television dramas between 1963 and 1992.
His impact on many black South Africans during apartheid and subsequently post-apartheid will always play a crucial role in the country’s painful history.
The curated Gibson Kente Gallery will be exclusively open for media previews from February 20 and the official renaming ceremony will be on February 26 at Soweto Theatre.
To the township eye, How Long is? Is a daily spectacleGibson Kente.

Image (‘Father of black theatre’ Gibson Kente will have Soweto Theatre -Auditorium named after him).

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