In 2015, Curious Monkey went to the National Arts Festival of South Africa to run the Remix Laboratory, a participatory workshop programme run in partnership by the Swallows Foundation UK and the festival. We were lucky enough to take an inspiring team with us from the North East – you can read all about it here.
While we were there we met incredible theatre company, NADO (Newcastle Arts Development Organisation) who are from Madadeni in Newcastle Kwa Zulu Natal. We were inspired by working together, so much so that when we got back, we started working with Newcastles of the World to create a new collaboration with NADO. Since then, we’ve brought together a UK cast who have been working with NADO online and through exchange visits to work on the development of a new play ‘Two Newcastles’.
In November I travelled to Newcastle KZN in South Africa to visit NADO to and plan for the next phase of the project, which includes an exchange visit to Newcastle KZN for the UK cast in January 2018 and a visit by NADO to the North East in May.
After a night in Johannesburg and a 5 hour bus journey (complete with free orange squash and a Will Smith DVD playing), I received a really warm welcome from the group, who were rehearsing their new show in a church in Madadeni where they live. They took me out for my first delicious experience of shisa nyama (meaning meat cooked on an open fire or bbq) at the near by ‘Khasins’.
Throughout the week, Producer Sphiwe Xulu and artists from NADO introduced me to the area, visiting a number of arts organisations, venues and places to stay. We met with representatives from Newcastle Municipality from Departments of Culture, Economic Development and Tourism. In Johannesburg I also met with Ismail Mahomed at the Market Theatre and caught up with Stephen Hobbs from The Trinity Session.
The UK team are raring to go for the next phase, visiting Johannesburg and Newcastle KZN in January. We will be updating you along the way. You can find out more information and see what the groups got up to in the last visit here