Thando Buthelezi brings poetry to the headlines with a brand new show

After winning the Poetry League champion title in Season 4, Thando Buthelezi took some time to focus on her writing and now she’s back with a brand new show. We caught up with her ahead of her performance at the #WNSAwards where she’ll give us a peek at the breaking news in her production, “Poetry And Current Affairs“.

We are looking forward to having WNS royalty rocking our stage again. What have you been up to since winning the Poetry League Champion title a few years ago?
Thank you.  I’m looking forward to the performance as well and I’m privileged to be given this amazing platform once more.
As for what I have been up to? Well it’s mainly been rest and motherhood. But in between that I have been working on strengthening my profile firstly as a journalist and broadening my scope as a writer by venturing into other elements of the craft to explore opportunities that are out there in various industries for us creatives.

Academically I have had to equip myself as well in the areas where that I felt will help me better manage myself as a brand, and this was all in preparation of my latest project “POETRY AND CURRENT AFFAIRS” set to officially launch in February 2018.

Describing your show, you’ve said “it’s a compilation of poetry jingles, ad breaks, music, PSA’s, drama and comedy”. This sounds intense, please share the process of putting such a show together.” How long have you been working on it and who else has been helping you?
I have wanted to find a way of bringing journalism and poetry together for a very long time however it was only in the year 2015 when the idea came and since July in that year I have been drawing up the plan and putting the relevant structures of the programme in place.  I spent most of 2017 testing it out and gathering the feedback for the purpose of strengthening the product.

And with regards to who I’m working with, I have been blessed with a very talented group of youngsters who have been exploring this concept with me.

How did you decide on the themes you’ll be tackling in the production and what do you want the audience to take away with them?
When deciding on the themes, I literally sat with some journalists and we reviewed some of the biggest news events to take place in the year 2017 and the impact that they have had on the country. More importantly the dialogues around it as well as the people who are at the receiving end of these effects.

Being a newsreader I find it so easy to read past the tragic stories but during this particular session I remember coming to the realisation that, “hey…there are actual people behind these headlines”, “there are names behind these statistics.”

If there is anything I want my audience to take away from the showcase it is that understanding of the fact that we are more than just headlines and statistics.

“In only a few months of its existence of Poetry and Current Affairs has become a training ground for upcoming artists who aim to advance their craft into professional level.” This is amazing, big up. Please tell us more about this and the people you have been working with?
Job creation and skills development for writers serves as one of the key things that this initiative addresses. We have done this through the recruitment of young creatives who run different departments of the programme. Initially we planned to adopt only 6, but we have since opened the door to others and we are currently a team of ten. Namely: Belita Andre, Zandile Mabaso, Thuthukani Myeza, Thatohatsi Mphuthi, Khethiwe Qotyana, Mkhokheli Dlamini, TshepoMohube, Sisathi Nomatye & Tshifhiwa Thovhakale

Who is the ideal audience member for this show?
The ordinary person who is affected by what’s going on in the affairs of their country. They read the newspaper, they browse the net, watch TV and Listen to the radio.

Producing shows isn’t cheap and arts funding seems like one of the most difficult things to attain. So how have you funded this project and made it work?
The project is unfunded at this stage however we tried to design a system of ensuring that the show ultimately pays for itself so that it does not fall into our own personal pockets.  But of course even in light of that we still faced a great challenge of sustaining the day to day expenses leading up to the event and that’s when companies like GLM Group, Poetry Culture and Others started coming in, to sponsor some of our needs and I guess this to me becomes a beautiful picture of why we need to grow the culture of collaborations in our industry.

If you could spend the day with the Min of Arts, which spaces/projects would you take him to see and what would you be talking about?
I would take him to my home in Soweto, Protea Glen. To watch my 5 year old daughter dance and then we would talk about how we can get her to Ballet School.

Lastly, where and when can we check out the full Poetry and Current Affairs show?
You can simply join us on the 25th of February 2018 at the Soweto Theatre. The ticket will cost you R150.00

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