National Arts Festival South Africa

National Arts Festival South Africa
National Arts Festival South Africa

In July 2015, Curious Monkey worked with the Swallows Foundation UK to lead a delegation of UK artists to lead the Remix Laboratory – a residential participation programme for 30 South African community theatre makers that is delivered as part of the festival’s education strand. During the 10 day festival the group shared skills in theatre making, participated in workshops led by the UK artists, attended shows and meetings and took part in the finale parade through Joza township and the centre of Grahamstown. This year was the 41st National Arts Festival, and the 7th Remix Laboratory that we have been involved with thanks to the Swallows Foundation. 

Check out the project blog HERE







Meet the team who joined us this year…


Jenny Dewar



Jenny is company manager of Curious Monkey. Jenny has an MA in Cultural Management and has worked on a number of UK and international projects including The Doha Cultural Forum in Qatar and Soweto Music Centre in Johannesburg. Jenny produced Mamela at the National Arts Festival in 2013 and has been part of the Remix Laboratory since 2011.


Amy Golding 



Amy is Artistic Director of UK based theatre company Curious Monkey, she is a Clore Fellow and graduate of Northumbria University. Amy is committed to bringing to life stories that deserve to be told through her theatre work with communities regionally and around the world. Amy directed the award winning show Mamela at the National Arts Festival in 2013, which went on to tour the UK as part of Afrovibes festival in 2014.


Gez Casey


Gez Casey is an actor, playwright and Literary Manager at Live Theatre in Newcastle. He teaches playwriting courses and runs the writers development programme at Live Theatre. He has recently co­written, an online course and resources for aspiring playwrights. His scripts for Live Theatre includes A Very Irish Coup, a one man show about horse racing, and most recently Up There In Lights, a musical and From Home To Newcastle. He has written or co-­‐written over 20 plays and worked in reminiscence theatre, oral history, verbatim theatre and youth theatre. He also teaches at Northumbria University. Gez will be an advisor for the Student Drama Festival at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year , a role which he has done since 2012.


Kate Craddock



Kate is a Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at Northumbria University, and Festival Director of GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre. founded GIFT in 2011 as a creative response to the regeneration of the area, and to offer a platform for contemporary theatre practice in the North East. Since 2009 Kate has participated in numerous international theatre festivals in a range of capacities including as workshop leader, performer, director, adjudicator, and participant.As a theatre maker, Kate has a solo performance practice and has performed her one-woman shows Hand me down (2008 -2011) and The GB Project(2013-2014) at venues and festivals nationally and internationally.Kate completed her practice-led PhD entitled ‘Collaboration in Performance Practice: trust, longevity and challenging proximity’ in 2010. Much of Kate’s PhD research was carried out through her role as performer and co-artistic director of mouth to mouth | international performance collective; a globally dispersed group of performing artists who utilise Skype technology as a tool for performance.Kate is on the editorial team of Training Grounds, a section in the Routledge journal ‘Theatre, Dance and Performance Training’ whereby she commissions writing from scholars and practitioners. Since 2010 Kate has been on the Board of Directors of the award winning theatre company The Paper Birds, and since 2012, has been on the Board of Directors of ARC, Stockton Arts Centre.


Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis Del Carmen Suriel





The Ladies of Midnight Blue are an Afro-Latin percussion & brass duet who have performed all over the world for various festivals, charity benefits, peace rallies, and protest marches. Their music consists of powerful and upbeat combinations of percussion, brass, vocal chants, and mbira arrangements that inspires dancing and calls for audience participation. Today, the duet is comprised of Hannabiell Sanders – Percussion, Bass Trombone, mbira, and voice, and Yilis del Carmen Suriel – Percussion, mbira. In the last 7 years they have been workshop facilitators and guest artists for youth programs, grade schools, universities, and community organizations. Their art and music workshops focus on community building and raising awareness concerning issues of inequality on all levels.


Jonluke McKie


Jonluke is a Theatre director, drama facilitator and singer/song writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is also artistic director Precious Cargo, a devising theatre company based in the North East of England. As a director he often uses puppetry, object theatre and magical realism within his work to explore the extraordinary moments in the every-day and tell thought provoking stories. Jonluke also specialises in applied theatre, working with various community groups and in particular children and young people; he teaches in primary schools and works with various youth groups to devise new theatre that gives a voice to its participants, building confidence and practical theatre skills.


Benedict Ayrton



Ben is an award-winning theatre artist, researcher, producer and screenwriter. He began his career as a young actor with the RSC Ensemble. He has worked extensively across the UK and overseas. He is Artistic Director of State of Grace, General Manager/Dramaturg for ZENDEH and has a range of screenwriting projects in development and production. Ben’s research concerns performance-making and performer-centred training methodologies from diverse cultural systems and codes. He lives in rural Co Durham with his family.



Rachel Birch



Rachel BirchRachel Jean Birch trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds, and is now based between Newcastle upon Tyne and London, working simultaneously as a dancer, choreographer, teacher and producer. In March Rachel attended The Clore Emerging Leaders course in Leamington Spa for a week long residential training.Rachel has recently performed with Southpaw Dance Company on their mass participation project RUSH in collaboration with Event International and The Cultural Spring. Previous companies include Surface Area Dance Theatres piece Auricular at BALTIC in Gateshead, Lo-Giudice Dance, Dansformation and picturecircle films and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.  Rachel also works for Dance City (Newcastle), Siobhan Davies Studios (London) and Theatre Royal Newcastle. As a producer Rachel co-produces FRESH, a scratch platform for dance artists with artist Hannah Marshall.