Theatre production company: Circle Productions, Cape Town, specialising in community theatre

Circle Productions- Cape Town

What: Theatre production company, based in Muizenberg, specialising in community theatre Owner-operators: Coleen van Staden and Celia Musikanth Services: Assisting with producing (rights to plays), creative team (direction, choreography, costumes, lighting, sound) Where: Theatre programmes for schools, sponsored extra-mural programmes, community theatre, independent artists Contact person:    Website: Facebook: Instagram: @circleproductionscape    

During the Covid pandemic and lockdown, schooling came to a halt for many learners. Distance and home schooling may have continued at well-resourced schools on zoom and other platforms but data costs often curtailed extra-curricular aspects of learning- such as drama. Learners are yearning to get back into a vibrant school culture – which includes drama. What happens with schools which do not have drama departments? They can call Coleen van Staden and Celia Musikanth of Circle Productions. This theatre production company, based in Muizenberg, works with schools, community groups and independent artists. Privileged schools have long put in place a system of hiring professionals (direction, choreography, set and costume design etc) to stage productions. Working from this model, Circle Productions has gone into under-resourced schools and with funding, van Staden and Musikanth, have conducted extra mural classes and also staged shows. Their latest project is an exciting partnership with Fondazione Labia. As a result of the Fondazione Labia’s funding, Circle Productions has been able to work with Westlake Primary School, in developing an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for the Shakespeare Schools Festival 2021. Westlake will be on stage at Artscape on Saturday May 22, 2021, 7pm, at Artscape.

TheCapeRobyn: Following on your work with Westlake Primary at The Shakespeare Schools Festival 2021, is your company open to enquiries- to facilitate productions with other schools – particular schools which are not well funded?

Coleen van Staden: Yes, this definitely is an option, especially in disadvantaged schools which do not have extracurricular programmes.   We also believe that schools who have life skills training, take their learners on educational outings, etc benefit from our Be an Actor for a Day programme, which is where Circle Productions started, five years ago with in-theatre sessions for adults.  In addition to this, it has become a wonderful experience for learners from both primary and secondary schools who come away with added confidence, basic acting skills, some theatre knowledge and a sense of achievement.

TheCapeRobyn: What can you can offer schools – year round – to get learners back on stage – away from self-taping and Zoom?   

Celia Musikanth:  The uncertainty that the virus continues to present has us reconsidering our vision for 2021. We miss live theatre and so will continue to look for opportunities like the Shakespeare Schools Festival in 2022 for our school programmes and we will be chatting to the Fondazione Labia in this regard as well as any other school programmes, for the rest of 2021. We want to get back into producing one person and small cast shows- both live and online -and will be looking at online opportunities like the National Arts Festival.  Our 30 plus years in community theatre, has given us a wealth of knowledge and practical experience especially with regard to  acting, directing, and writing for the stage.   While we find ourselves in a ‘holding position’ to a certain extent and are waiting to welcome live theatre back, we will use this time to plan for 2022; to develop projects, such as our play reading club and writers’ circle sessions- live and/or online.

TheCapeRobyn: Does your company work with schools which require assistance in staging productions?

Coleen van Staden: It is something we could assist schools with- a full-on production for a school requires many hands on deck and full support from the particular school.  For example,  the production we did for Muizenberg High School in 2018 to celebrate its 120-year anniversary was a collaborative affair with support from many of the school’s departments – art, drama and music, with Circle Productions doing the research, scripting, staging, auditioning and rehearsing. We also brought in some of our community theatre actors to be part of the production.  So we had a wonderful cross-pollination of talent.  Our 30 learners had an amazing experience.  It was eight months in the making and pretty much a full time occupation. Funding of a production like this always remains a challenge but the rewards are immense.  Given the available funding and allocation of time and all the above components in place, it is something we could do.

TheCapeRobyn: During Covid, many people have taken the decision to continue home school their offspring. Can Circle Productions provide a drama component – with classes for home school hubs?

Celia Musikanth: Yes, we would love to do that. We could also assist in submitting productions for community festivals.

Coleen van Staden and Celia Musikanth of Circle Productions, a community focussed production theatre company.