On The Road To Music is a new, original show from Madevu Entertainment, with original compositions from Zolani Shangase. On at the space.com at the Joburg Theatre from June 21-23, the show features Sne Dladla, Dionne Song, Nolo Harmony, Yamikani, and Michael William Wallace. We sat down with creator Zolani Shangase to find out more about this exciting project!
TZA: Hi Zolani! Thanks for sitting down with us. To start off, what exactly is the show about?
Zolani Shangase: On The Road to Music is about a journey to music -the people one meets along the way, the stories we tell, and the events that shape our lives. It showcases original compositions by Zolani Shangase, Dionne Song, Sne Dladla, and the band of On The Road to Music. It is set on the final rehearsal day of a show, before the show goes on the road elsewhere.
TZA: How did you get to creating this specific show?
ZS: The show was first a fundraiser to fund my studies at the Royal Academy of Music. I wanted to showcase my talents by creating something the audience could engage with after the show as well. The turnout was great, but we decided that we could not stop there, we needed to take it a step further and create a fully original production! Our young company Madevu Entertainment has always focused on showcasing a new breed of writers and composers who have a yearning for new and exciting music.
TZA: Can you tell us a little about the journey you have gone through in creating this show?
ZS: The journey is a continuous one, because as artists we never really arrive at the destination - it is unknown and uncertain. We have had to collaborate with other young artists and creatives to make this show a success. We sourced the best musicians and singers - who we really can’t afford, but they believe in me and the vision we all share for the importance of the show. We were lucky to be given the space.com at the Joburg Theatre to perform On The Road to Music, which is part of the Joburg Theatre’s youth development program. We are very privileged to get a chance to showcase the hard work that goes into creating anything new, and having faith that it will be received with the same kind of passion we have put into it.
TZA: Tell us about your journey in the theatre world. What are some of the things you have been involved with?
ZS: I started performing when I was 15. My first professional show was The Sound of Music at the Playhouse Company in Durban, directed by industry giant Ralph Lawson. I then went on to study a National Diploma in Musical theatre at TUT, and since completing my formal training I’ve had the privilege to perform in some of the biggest shows in South Africa and abroad, such as West Side Story, The Rocky Horror Show, Orpheus in Africa, The Color Purple, My Children My Africa and The Lion King on The West End, the UK tour of Showboat and Tiger Bay the Musical at the Wales Millennium Centre.
TZA: What were your inspirations in creating On The Road To Music?
ZS: I am highly inspired by the talents of the people around me: Dionne Song, Sne Dladla and Michael William Wallace. They are all artists who have had careers in the theatre and tv world, but also have a severe passion for music, collaborating with interesting people, and creating a sound that is authentically ours. I also draw inspiration from our traditions, cultures, and the ceremonial practices that shape our landscape as South Africans.
TZA: What was the creative process like?
ZS: The process has been challenging as we are first time theatre producers and we are learning every step of the way, but we have faith in our skills! We have been met with many obstacles along the way but the show must always go on.
TZA: What was the collaborative process like in the creation of the show?
ZS: We started with creating the music first and making sure that the message was clear and story-driven. Dionne would work on the lyrics and Sne on the music, and I would do the vocal arrangements. Then we would record and share sample tracks with the cast and band, and workshop the script and setting with the director in rehearsal.
TZA: What kind of story or message were you hoping to get across with On The Road To Music?
ZS: The story we’d like to portray is a show that validates our stories as individuals and as a country. We also hope that the authentic work - although authenticity is subjective - we create can last forever and leave a legacy for those that come after us. But the show is also giving back power to the artist, and showing the next generation that the future of the arts in Africa very bright.
TZA: What experiences have you had in theatre that you are hoping to emulate?
ZS: I love good stories, so we hope to tell a beautiful story. I’ve workshopped some awesome shows like Orpheus in Africa and Tiger Bay, and I’ve learned that it is an incredible experience to create a new character and see it come to life. I would like the company to focus on creating new content and productions.
TZA: What were some of your favourite shows to work on and be a part of?
ZS: I had an incredible and challenging time recently performing in My Children, My Africa - a fantastic play by Athol Fugard, in which I played the role of Thami at the South African State Theatre. I will also always love The Lion King, and the most incredible opportunity so far has to have been The Color Purple.
TZA: What has been the most enjoyable part of creating and working on this show?
ZS: Listening to the songs has been a huge highlight! It’s a cool feeling to really like the music you’ve created.
TZA: What have the cast and crew been like?
ZS: They have been extraordinary to work with, they’ve been really open to the workshop process and all of them are super talented.
TZA: Thanks Zolani!
Interview by Kailin Pillay (TheatreZA)