[PROFILE] Born in Cape Town in 1987, Jade Bowers is a director and designer who experiments with physical style and conceptual form to make theatre that is fuelled by invention and creativity.

Jade has been listed as one of online magazine Afripop’s ‘Five Female Theatre Makers in South Africa You Should Know’. She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Drama and Sociology from the University of Cape Town, and received her Honours degree in Theatre Design and Directing for the Stage from University of the Witwatersrand in 2014.

Jade, who runs her own production company, currently works at Dalro as a theatrical rights administrator, and was previously the resident stage manager at the University of Johannesburg. In 2011, she was involved in UJ’s Reading Gay and THATSOGAY theatre festivals, as well as being part of the team that staged Arts and Culture head Ashraf Johaardien’s adaption of K Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams. She has been the showcase curator of the Wits 969 Festival and director of the Wits Arts and Literature Experience (WALE). She produced, directed and designed Salaam Stories for the 10th anniversary revival of Johaardien’s autobiographical Salaam. This demanding solo work deals with religion, sexuality and South African cultural history.

The work Jade produces ‘represents her interests in the intersections between culture, identity and sexuality. This is fully explored in South African theatre and it makes her daring,’ Afripop says. For example, the staging of Clora, a comedy/cabaret show staged at PopArt in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, rose temperatures around homophobia and intolerance.

Jade has been recognised for her ability to revisit South African texts in an inventive yet deeply respectful way. Her beautiful and compelling reworking of Rehane Abrahams’s script What the Water Gave Me earned a Silver Ovation Award at the 2014 National Arts Festival, as well as a Naledi Award nomination in 2015 in the category, Best Production: Cutting Edge. Arts writer Adrienne Sichel says Jade is ‘not only an actors’ director, but one that has ‘the ability to ignite audiences visually and intellectually with imaginative, highly intuitive, yet astutely crafted, theatre making’.

Her collaboration with Robin Malan on iHAMLET – a 60-minute production of Shakespeare’s longest play – garnered a Naledi Award nomination for best theatre sound design in 2013. She received the Arts & Culture Trust’s ImpACT award for theatre in 2014.

‘Theatre can be a cruel task-master and its slings and arrows are not for the faint-hearted – especially when one has an odd affinity for obscure work as I occasionally (quite often) do,’ Jade says. ‘My journey as a maker and practitioner of live theatre has been marked with as many challenges as it has been blessed with opportunities – I am profoundly grateful for both … The common denominator through all of this has always been the telling of unique stories and, to me, the only thing more powerful than the stories we are told, are the stories that we choose to tell and how we choose to tell them.’

NOTES TO EDITORS

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL

The National Arts Festival, now in its 42nd year, has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in Southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences.

ABOUT THE STANDARD BANK YOUNG ARTIST AWARDS

The National Arts Festival established the Young Artist Awards in 1981 to acknowledge emerging young South African artists who demonstrate an outstanding artistic talent. These prestigious awards are presented annually to deserving artists in different disciplines – dance, jazz, music, theatre, visual art, performance art and film – affording them national exposure and acclaim. Standard Bank took over the sponsorship of the awards in 1984 and has presented Young Artist Awards in all the major arts disciplines over their 31-year sponsorship, as well as posthumous and special recognition awards. The winners feature on the Main Programme of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and receive financial support for their Festival participation, as well as a cash prize.

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