Entering the Gateway of the Universe

Words by Sudonia Kouter

The realisatin of this is it, the gateway to the universe –  hit me when we were creeping steadily up the mountain on the stretching road which gleamed silver in the headlights of our minibus. We all got quieter the nearer we came to the SAAO centre in Sutherland and excited chatter only started when we descended from our vehicle.

Even now whenever I am outside I would look up at the night sky, trying to pinpoint what we saw when we were stargazing, something I never would have done before our vist to Sutherland.

Never have I felt closer to the beautiful cosmos which is our universe and also learning that there’s even more universes. Honestly when we researched and discussed terms like lightyears, galaxies, planets, stars etc, my mind was unable to fantom the figures of billion this and trillion that! When I was gazing up, not with one of the telescopes – Each star felt so close and there were so many! The visit to two of the Telescopes, The Elizabeth and SALT was equally amazing! One of the things that stood out was that the mirrors used inside the SALT Telescope was the shape of a honeycomb, which is one of the elements in our story this year –  part of the set is also a honeycomb!

I believe that the whole experienced has touch each of us in different ways but ultimately it will forever connect us.

What I have learnt about the universe and its infinite stretch, brought in me a feeling of belonging. Before this journey I was forever looking out and wondering where I fit in. I delved into the alienness of existing right here, right now. Being a woman, being a mother, being a wife, being a daughter, being me. I’ve given being me many names – different, unique, awkward, strange, deep thinker, complex, infinite. Today I am most probably all of them and I accept that. For I no longer seek, I have found like many scientist have a discovered before me, stars, galaxies, planets.

I have found myself.

I am a daughter of the universe, I am like the sun, bright, warm, fierce and scorching, but the centre around which my cosmos orbit around. I am like a planet, centred with its own stars and moons which brighten even the darkest of days.

I conclude by saying that by looking beyond I have come to the realisation that there a place for each of us to exist, the universe is so fast and that our planet is so unique that no one needs to threaten another living being’s existence, for there is a place for all of us even if we are different from one another.  The stars are so many that each of us can choose one to guide us when we feel lost. And when that one star’s light gets dimmed we need only look south, to found our way again.

Luma Comes to Life at the Factory of the Arts

Puppeteer and designer Luyanda Nogodlwana testing his latest creation, the Alien A’qut Luma for the new production. The giant puppets are being built at their workshop in LoKO (the Laboratory of Kinetic Objects) in the new Factory of the Arts in Woodstock.
Mr AIR, the new Ukwanda Giant, preparing for his first big steps

Siphokazi Mpofu, from Ukwanda Puppeteers showing installation artist and musician from Delhi, Kathyayini Dash, the Alien that she will be performing with. Kathyayini studied visual art at Baroda and Ambedkar University Delhi and has been training in Hindustani Classical Music. Her practice involves constructing multi-sensory compositions in an effort to merge the two broad genres of performance and visual art. Kathya, who is in SA doing her PhD and working with the Insurrection Ensemble, will be collaborating with local puppeteers in Barrydale and our directing team to combine voice and object performance in the body of the Alien.

A gathering of puppeteers and collaborators to brainstorm MR AIR at the Ukwanda “Puppet Museum” at LoKO. From left, Sipho Ngxola, Adrian Kohler, Jud Cornell, Aja Marneweck, Luyanda Nogodlwana, Siphokazi Mpofu, Jane Taylor and Basil Jones.

Movement and meaning workshop with Mamela Nyamza

On Saturday 2nd November, at the very same time that the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup, our performers from Net vir Pret, Ukwanda and CHR had the opportunity to participate in a movement workshop with the formidable Mamela Nyamza, a multi-award winning choreographer, director, arts activist, educator and live artist, organised by the Factory of the Arts at the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC.

In the workshop Mamela explored the performer as facilitator, that any body can facilitate and create movement and that the boundaries of what we consider movement are open and available to us all. Using play as a pedagogical methodology, she lead the performers through various exercises exploring everyday movement conversations, movement memory , focus, basic object transformation and kinetic-vocal exchange.

She inspired the group with a preview conversation about her new piece, still percolating in its infancy, and we were honoured to share this time with her.

Diving in to the Macro and Micro-Cosmos: A Research Trip to the SALT Telescope and Town of Sutherland

Net vir Pret staff, interns and young leaders from Barrydale with CHR artists from Cape Town met for a remarkable research trip to Sutherland, stargazing at the SAAO South African Astronomical Observatory, learning about life, the speed and vibration of light and viewing the universe and our own bodies at 1014….Radical…..

‘On the 18th of October 2019, our Net Vir Pret team and young leaders were visiting Sutherland.  So we took off at 08:30 am and arrive at 13:40 pm in Sutherland the Northern Cape.Personaly it was my first time across the border between the ( Western Cape and the Northern Cape ). The whole trip was very long but wonderful. So when we arrive in Sutherland we get to our accomdation in the hotel. Its a very small town. With lots of friendly people.

So as we arrived we settled , booked in. Explore and after we took a little nap to get enough rest for the stargazing. 

It was a great experience for all of us. Specially seeing the planets my favourite one was to look at Saturnis. With the Ring around him. So I think we all was suprise and the information blew our minds. 

Wind , Mountains , Oxygen, Planets , clouds , Nature , The sun –  this is all the things that we must appreciate while we still can see it. Everything are so precious and they all connected , Ice that melting , Earth thats moving just now but we dont see it. The Sun and his light that providing for plants to grows.

Let’s take care of our planet.’- Selanvor Platjies