Musical celebrating John Muafangejo in the works, Director Sandy Rudd shares the process
Sandy Rudd is back and this time she will be paying tribute to one of Namibia’s finest artists, John Muafangejo.
Having been active in Namibian theatre scene for 35 years, Sandy has a total of 45 productions and 6 international productions under her belt and has won numerous awards on her directorial ability for productions like ‘Meme Mia!’ (Namibian adaptation of Mama Mia!), ‘Complete Works Of Shakespeare’, ‘The Lesson’, ‘Charlie & Chocolate Factory’, amongst many others.
Sandy talks more on her upcoming musical, ‘I am John: A Love Story’:
What inspired you to write this play?
I wanted to do a play on the essence of the great man, look at his work in an abstract way through lighting, dance and original Owambo music. Last Year, during the 30th Anniversary of his death, there was a lot said about him in the papers but not enough other social consciousness, it was then when I thought about doing a play to celebrate him. I approached the National Theatre and they agreed to make it a Premier Production, so with their sponsorship and the sponsorship from FNB the play was realized.
Musician Emmylou Harris once said ‘There is no one who creates music in a vacuum.’ The same could be said for writing a play, a musical, a truly traditional musical celebrating the life of one of Namibia’s great ancestors, one of Namibia’s great fine artists. I have spent a year conceptualizing, writing and thinking about this great man. I have spent hours poring over his 260 prints, all of which are equally beautiful. I have learnt so much from John as the wonderful human being he was. He was a man with no malice, a man who loved humanity hugely, a troubled man who wanted a beautifully finished vision of the world. I have quietly fallen in love with him and have changed the name of the production from LIFE IS INTERESTING to I AM JOHN – A LOVE STORY. This is our love story, for all Namibians. We are all so privileged and honoured to have had this man in our life. I only hope we the amazing cast and crew of I AM JOHN can do him justice.
What can we expect to see in the production?
This production is a fusion of celebrating the visual image with contemporary, traditional dance and music. Occasionally you have these crossroads moments when something completely new is born. This process has been a beautiful thing, it felt like high art in the greatest degree. This is a production that is going to take us to a new place of a beautiful new Namibian consciousness.
What genre of music should we expect in this production?
This is a completely new genre of music it is traditional Oshiwambo fusing with modern riffs and tunes. This is a new genre of Namibian music which has been composed and written with the talents of Musical Director Lize Ehlers, Assistant Musical Director Immanuel Salahoma. Eino ‘Knock Knock’ Kamati’ (traditional Drums), Lahja Magana Lazarus (Traditional Songs) and the St. George’s Choir, with conductor Jolanda Amoraal, Odibo Songs & Hymns, Sally Kauluma. A lot of thought and research has gone into the production, the music would have inspired John, the traditional music of his time. Sally Kauluma lived in Odibo and taught John the songs that were to influence his life and his work. John Muafangejo was a deeply committed Christian. His church was St. George’s Cathedral in Windhoek, hence the use of the choir.
What do music and sound design mean to this play that’s different from other plays?
It is original music, it really is exploring the crossroads of traditional and contemporary sounds, the urban familiar.
What was your biggest challenge working on this play?
The Copyright acquisition has been difficult and it was a long process getting the license to use the images, also a quite expensive one.
Can you tell us more about how you are collaborating with Lize Ehlers as the Musical Director and Haymich Oliver as Choreographer?
Brilliant people! We are a team that compliments and understand each other with much respect and love. This is the over the 7th show we are collaborating on.
What has happened in the rehearsal period so far?
A typical process; I write the script, Lize writes the music, and Haymich and Justine Andres do the choreography. On the 1st of October we move into NTN and bring all the elements together; screens, 5 projectors, live band, 100 piece choir and 7 dancers.
How did you get involved in being a musical director in theatre?
Love at first sight at 4 years old in a musical of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ in Harare Zimbabwe in 1959!
Do you have any advice for a young person who might want to direct a musical?
My mantra is ‘take your passion and make it happen’ if you want it bad enough you will get it!
‘I am John: A Love Story’ will stage for three days (10th to the 12th October 2018) at NTN. Tickets cost N$100. Students and Pensioners can get tickets for N$60. Tickets are available at Computicket.