South Africa in the West

Concert: “20 Years of Freedom” with Hugh Masekela and Vusi Mahlasela
Wed, Mar 11

Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall

Two South African musical ambassadors and freedom fighters, singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela and trumpeter/vocalist Hugh Masekela, join forces for a celebration of 20 years of democracy in their homeland, performing music of the anti-apartheid movement with a stellar backing band. For the first time, Mahlasela’s warm, powerful voice meets Masekela’s clarion trumpet in songs that are “optimistic and soulful, delivered with an intensity that captures the attention and embraces the heart” (Los Angeles Times)


Film: A Letter to Nelson Mandela
Thu, Mar 12

Pacific Film Archive

Directed by Khalo Matabane, the film explores how diverse global leaders interpret Nelson Mandela’s message of freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation. Trying to avoid the danger of a single true story, the film combines Khalo Matabane’s personal reflections with the thoughts of the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, Joachim Gauck or Arundhati Roy as well as artists, thinkers and activists from around the globe. A discussion with the director will follow the screening.


Symposium: South Africa After Mandela
Fri, Mar 13
Townsend Center for the Humanities, Geballe Room

South Africa recently marked the twentieth anniversary of its first democratic elections and the momentous passage of one of the great leaders who made this political transition possible, Nelson Mandela. This symposium features key voices from the generation of South Africans who have come of age in a post-apartheid world.


Theater: Handspring Puppet Company presents Ubu and the Truth Commission
Conceived and Directed by William Kentridge // Written by Jane Taylor // Puppets by Adrian Kohler
May 1-3
Cal Performances, Zellerbach Playhouse

This landmark work “casts a surreal light on the heart of darkness-and still manages to leave you with hope” (Washington Post). Collaborating with artist William Kentridge, South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company (creators of the puppetry for Broadway’s War Horse) combines animation, live actors, music, and puppets. The play examines the apartheid regime through the findings of the Truth Commission, exploring justice and reconciliation in a deeply immersive work


Symposium: The Lessons of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Sat, May 2
Wheeler Auditorium
Free and open to the public

1:00 pm:   Key Note

Catherine Cole, Director and Professor, Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies

1:30-3:00 pm:  Living in a Majority/Minority State

Participants will investigate the parallels between South Africa at the end of apartheid and California, raising issues of economic inequity and the realities of a minority/majority state. Featured speakers: James Campbell, Stanford University, Department of History and Gillian Hart, UC Berkeley Department of Geography, author of “Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony (Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation).”

3:15-4:15: About Ubu and the Truth Commission

Playwright Jane Taylor and Catherine Cole, Director and Professor, Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, in conversation.

4:30-5:45 pm:  Puppets and Politics

Handspring Puppet Company Executive Producer Basil Jones (TBC) and Janni Younge, Lead Artist on Ubu and the Truth Commission
Linda Elbow, Bread and Puppet Theater
Claudia Orenstein, Hunter College, Professor and Chair of Department of Theatre, and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance (June 2014)
Frank Smiegel, Associate Curator of Performance and Film at SFMOMA (moderator)

5:45 pm: Closing Remarks / Q & A

Alan Tansman, Director of The Townsend Center for The Humanities, UC Berkeley and Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures