PACE+ 2019

PACE+ held in July at the Vrystaat Art Festival is a unique platform held in the interim years between the Pan-African Creative Exchange (PACE), to help artists reflect on and further develop their work showcased at PACE. In 2019 we hosted the first PACE+ Dramaturgical Laboratory led by Dr ‘Funmi Adewole. The PACE 2018 alumni were invited to participate in this inaugural lab. PACE+ provides talented and diverse artists with the opportunity to present innovative new work to arts professionals on a rare platform for global art professionals to see high-quality work by African artists.

PACE+ Dramaturgy Lab

The PACE+ Dramaturgy lab (24-29 June 2019) is a transdisciplinary space for professional performing artists. This year the lab will be exploring the concept of the ‘performer-spectator relationship’; what thinking through this concept can do for our making, performing, planning and promotions.

Western models and static ideas of African performance are insufficient for evaluating the expanding landscape of African performing arts. Since the critical discourse and theories on African performance made for ticket buying or curated audiences is limited, the work of contemporary performers runs the risk of being misunderstood by audiences both at home and abroad and being stifled before it can reach its full potential.

The artists will come to the lab with a personal goal and leave with a plan on how to achieve it. The goal will be related to work that they presented at PACE 2018. The lab will consist of short talks, facilitated discussions, cross-art workshops, creative tasks, composing, making, giving and receiving feedback, planning, presenting and moments of self and group reflection.

The dramaturges’ role will be to serve as facilitators as the artists interrogate their artistic profile, artistic processes, their position in the arts world and what they will do with their project at hand.


PACE+ Lab Artists

Ese Brume

Ese Brume is a French/Nigerian performing artist and cultural promoter navigating between Paris and Lagos with a passion for the Arts. From literature to poetry, cinema to theatre, dance to music; these varied fields of the Arts have repeatedly merged, collided in her career as she has collaborated with theatre directors, choreographers, artists, filmmakers in her over twenty years’ experience. She began on the contemporary Parisian theatre scene, moved on to the European scene and is now in Lagos, Africa where she is fully based. Over the past two years, she has been focusing on creating her own works and has successfully staged her powerful play My Nina Simone Trip. She performed an extract of My Nina Simone Trip at the inaugural edition of the Pan-African Creative Exchange in 2018. She is currently working on a docu-fiction around and inspired from her discovery of the genius of an artist/designer, philosopher, editor, theatre performer, Demas Nwoko.


Leanetse Seekoe

Leanetse Seekoe is a writer, director, language activist and teacher. She grew up as a dancer and graduated with an Honours Degree in acting from the University of Cape Town (2013). She also holds a PGCE from the University of the Witwatersrand (2015) and a Masters Degree in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Fort Hare (2019). She has since embarked on a journey of writing about languages in South Africa. She also writes anecdotes about black women and their perspective of the world. She wrote the one-woman play - 4 cps 1 tbsp, which she has been performing since 2017.  She has performed it at The Market Theatre Foundation, The Plat4orm, Kuwamba Women’s Festival and at the inaugural edition of the Pan-African Creative Exchange. She has also written and directed plays for Roadmap Ministry, including David and It Takes a Village.

Wole Oguntokun

Wole Oguntokun is the Artistic Director of Nigerian-based Renegade Theatre. He has produced and directed plays by many of Nigeria's best-known playwrights including Soyinka's Kongi’s Harvest, Osofisan’s Moruntodun, Ola Rotimi’s The Gods Are Not To Blame and Zulu Sofola’s King Emene. He has also directed Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Banzi is dead. Renegade Theatre presented the first Nigerian play at The Globe’s Shakespeare Olympiad in London (The Winter’s Tale) in 2012 and the first Nigerian plays at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 and 2014. ‘The Chibok Girls: Our Story’, a play which Wole wrote about the 276 school girls kidnapped in 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorist group premiered in Lagos in 2015. The play was the subject of his live-streamed pitch during the Pan-African Creative Exchange in 2018. The play is part of the 2019 edition of Crosscurrents in Washington DC. Wole was a Global Fellow of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Johann Smith

Johann Smith is developing a career as a writer and director. He has written for stage productions, especially for youth theatre and is currently a writer for a soap opera. He has started directing amateur projects and co-direct larger professional productions. He works with DEURis Theatre, one of the companies showcased during the Pan-African Creative Exchange in 2018. 

Shihaam Domingo

Shihaam Domingo is the driving force behind The Domingo Effect. “Connecting to make difference” through authentic and collaborative performing arts incentives is her strapline. The Domingo Effect started 2014 as a publicity, entertainment project and management service. The creative freedom of entrepreneurship allowed her to invest time into developing and mentoring young talent in Oudshoorn during the KKNK and the western cape during school holidays through a partnership with KykNET through mentorship workshops. Her production Die Riel Van Hip Hop based on collaboration across borders won the Fiesta for best musical theatre production nationally. Since 2016, she has been trustee on Ghoema music awards. She curated the Adam Small Celebration for Distell in November 2017. She attended the inaugural edition of the Pan-African Creative Exchange in 2018.  A most recent success story of her’s is the young people from Culitzdorp in the Karoo who in one year went from dancing on a cleaned up rubbish dump to being invited to perform with one of SA’s most celebrated artist Karin Zoid at the KKNK in 2019.

Sizakele Mdi

Sizakele Mdi started her career in the performing arts as a dancer touring Czech Republic with David Hall and Rwanda and Egypt with Reginald Danster. She trained with Sibikwa Arts in 2008 and Vuyani dance theatre under Gregory Moqoma in 2009. At the end of each course, she was awarded top student and top trainee respectively. In 2010-2012, she toured France, Germany, Austria and Denmark as lead actress and dancer with the award winning Portia Mashigo and  was also lead actress in the award winning play Thursday’s Child directed by Ntshieng Mokgoro. In 2013, worked as a trainee at the Forgotten Angel Theatre Collaborative. Drunken laced velvets production as a choreographer in 2013. Her second production was named Beneath the concrete and third Go goa Mamoya which won three awards at the Market theatre trade fair and Best Free State incubator production. She has recently created a fourth piece called Ndiboleke ingubo. Mdi was one of the choreographers featured at Pan-Africa Creative Exchange in 2018.

Segun Adefila

Segun Adefila is a performer and the artistic director of a youth focused arts company, Crown Troupe of Africa. His background in Yoruba traditional masquerade performance has a huge influence on his practice. His work with the Crown Troupe encompasses the art genres of dance, spoken word, music, drama and visual arts. His work is adaptable and suitable for performance in diverse spaces. His solo street performance at the inaugural edition of the Pan-African Creative Exchange in 2018 drew from the Yoruba masquerade tradition, spoken word and Afrobeat dance and music. Over the years he has been involved in various community intervention arts projects.  These include - Theatre On Wheels- a nomadic theatre project, Pop Theatre – created for diverse spaces such as market squares, bus parks, pubs and street corners, the Eko Theatre Carnival- an annual arts festival with parades performances, workshops, seminars and music concerts. His latest project is the Crown Arts Resource Centre, a community intervention project and creative hub that offers a platform to the youth for self-expression through the arts. 

Omobolanle Stephen-Atitebi

Omobolanle Stephen-Atitebi is a trained theatre artiste with over 23 years’ experience as an actor, dancer, singer, producer and TV presenter. In 2003, she won the ATAS LASU award of 'Best Actress of The Year'. She performed at the Greenwich Arts Festival, England in 2004 in the play Waingi and toured UK and Wales with the dance drama Ariya in 2005. Omobolanle has played various iconic roles such as Mrs Funmilayo Ramsome-Kuti and Madam Tinubu. She is currently working on a project that showcases the Yoruba culture and its people through the act of story telling with music, dance and drama. She performed the role of Esther in the shortened version of Kenneth Uphopho’s production of Esther’s Revenge, which was presented as part of the Pan-African Creative Exchange’s in 2018. 

Abdoulaye Diallo

Abdoulaye Diallo also known as BBoy Abdallah, is a dancer and choreographer. He began dancing at the age 14 with friends, on the streets of Dakar, inspired by his older brother. Through this he became part of the Senegalese hip-hop scene. In 2009 as part of Punisher Crew he won the Battle Nationale. After meeting choreographer Adzine Ben Youssef in 2011 he began to explore other dance forms performing with him at the Kaay Feec festival. Too broaden his knowledge of dance and performance he took part in a training programme as Ecoles Des Sables where he encountered traditional Senegalese dances, West contemporary forms and hybrid dance practices. He launched his own company Kaddu soon after with the support Gacirah Diagne, Kaay Feec co-director and Ben Youssef and has since choreographed three group pieces. Keen on issues to do with the environment he began to develop his first solo called Pollution which he presented as a work in progress at Pan-Africa Creative Exchange in 2018.

Kenneth Uphopho

Kenneth Uphopho is a choreographer, dancer, actor, arts manager, director and acting coach.His career in performance started in 1997 with an attraction to dance creation. Since 2009 he has committed himself to the conception, exhibition, construction and performance of theatre. His Lagos based company PAWSTUDIOS is dedicated to creating work that inspires socially relevant debates and live events. As an actor, he has appeared in over 200 stage productions. Between 2011 and 2018 he directed several critically acclaimed productions. His most recent collaborative piece that he wrote and directed titled Esther’s Revenge; which premiered at the Lagos Theatre Festival 2018. Kenneth is currently the Festival Director for Lagos Fringe, which was showcased at the Inaugural Pan African Creative Exchange in Bloemfontein, South Africa 2018. He was also the pioneer Festival Director for the British Council Lagos Theatre Festival. Kenneth is a 2019 recipient of the International Society for the Performing Arts Fellowship.

Omar Sène

Omar Sène was born in 1984 in Dakar Senegal. Enfant terrible, he abandoned school at an early age. In order to manage him, his family sent him into apprenticeship. He learnt several trades working as a furniture maker, metallic carpenter, public transport driver amongst other occupations. Simultaneously, at 14, he started spending time with traditional dancers in his neighborhood, who initiated him to the traditional dance practices. In 2001, he discovered other dance techniques through his brother Pape Sy, a founding member of Fifth Dimension, a contemporary dance company and artistic director of Pasytef / Ballet Théâtre and Passy Dance School of Dalifort. Omar enrolled in Pape Sy’s school and studied dance, theater, poetry, music, classical and modern dance, African and contemporary classes as well as classical dance training with Andrée Lorenzetti. In 2004, Omar joined the Fifth Dimension Company, under the direction of the co-founder Jean Tamba. He has presented various choreographic works in festivals in Senegal and abroad. In 2009, He began to work at the Talibou Dabo Centre in Dakar, for children with learning difficulties and give regular classes at Dakar Fort B remand center for young prisoners. He is a collaborator of Abdoulaye Diallo whose solo was presented at Pan-Africa Exchange in 2018. 

PACE+ Forum

Last year's PIAD Forum was in partnership with PACE+ 2019.

Heritage and the Digital: Trans- and interdisciplinary performance from the Continent


PIAD is proud to present Dr 'Funmi Adewole as the  PIAD and PACE+ keynote speaker for 2019. ‘Funmi is an academic researcher and professional practitioner. She lectures at De Montfort University, Leicester in England. Her research and practice are in the areas of dance and contemporary African performance, exploring issues of postcolonialism, modernity and interculturalism.

‘The complexity of African performance is difficult, layered, daunting, exciting and rich. The production of performances from Africa far outstrips the discourse, historical documentation or critical thinking about it which constitutes a challenge for practitioners in Africa who are in dialogue with global audiences. I would argue that complexity is not a problem. It is what it is. It is what and how we communicate from our complexity that matters. The digital space is a site to examine this complexity.' - 'Funmi Adewole


PACE+ Dramaturges

‘Funmi Adewole - Coordinating Facilitator (UK/Nigeria)

‘Funmi Adewole has a background in media, education, arts development and performance. She started out as a media practitioner in Nigeria and moved into performance on relocating to England in 1994. For several years she toured with Physical/Visual theatre and African dance drama companies. Her credits include performances with Ritual Arts, Horse and Bamboo Mask and Puppetry Company, Artistes-in-Exile, Adzido Pan-African Dance Ensemble, Mushango African dance and Music Company and the Chomondeleys contemporary dance company. She continues to perform as a storyteller.  She was Chair of Association of Dance of the African Diaspora in Britain (ADAD) from 2005 to 2007.  In this role she initiated and directed the ADAD Heritage project, which contributed to the documentation of black-led dance companies and choreographers in England between the 1930s and 1990s. As a dramaturge she works mainly with makers who are interdisciplinary or cross-sectorial in focus. Her research interests include storytelling as performance, choreography and Africanist dance aesthetics; histories of Black dance artists in Britain, and Dance as part of the cultural/creative industries. She recently completed a PhD in Dance Studies at De Montfort University Leicester and is now a VC2020 lecturer in the Dance Department at the same university.

Mike van Alfen - Facilitator (The Netherlands/Belgium)

Mike van Alfen, was born in Amsterdam. After graduating there at the Academy for Theatre and Dance, he created several devised physical theatre performances and worked as free-lance performer and co-creator in a wide variety of styles, forms and disciplines. He has worked as a guest teacher at art schools in Amsterdam, Maastricht, Tilburg, all in The Netherlands and more recently Antwerp in Belguim. In 1997 he joined Made In Da Shade, an Amsterdam based theatre group, that mixed techniques, styles, contexts and references from mainstream Euro American culture, hip hop club subcultures. Between 2007 and 2014, he was a member of the artistic team of MC, a workshop/venue in Amsterdam which focused on new storytellers from the big cities. There his activities gradually shifted to dramaturgy and he began coach, directing and facilitating new projects in The Netherlands and abroad for Creatives (both with an art education and self-taught). From 2014, he went freelance. He continues to work with independent creative mainly those with a culturally mixed background from the Caribbean, African, and Arabic diasporas. His specific focus is on projects that go beyond mainstream narratives, contexts and references, and use contemporary and hybrid art forms.

Jacob Boehme - Guest Provocateur (Australia)

Jacob Boehme is a Melbourne born and raised artist of the Narangga and Kaurna Nations, South Australia. Jacob is the founding Creative Director of YIRRAMBOI Festival, recipient of the 2018 Green Room Award for Curatorial Contribution to Contemporary and Experimental Arts. Jacob is a multi-disciplinary theatre maker and choreographer, creating work for stage, screen, large-scale public events and festivals. Jacob currently sits on the Board of Directors for Dance House and Polyglot Theatre and is a member of the International Advisory Panel for the Calouste Gulbenkian UK Enquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations and Ministry of Culture Taiwan South East Asia Advisory Panel. Alumni of the Victorian College of the Arts, (MA in Arts – Playwriting, MA in Arts – Puppetry) Jacob's critically acclaimed solo work Blood on the Dance Floor is touring nationally and internationally from 2019.

Saartije Botha – Guest Provocateur (South Africa)

Born Susara Susanna Botha in Bloemfontein, Saartjie attended the Hoër Meisieskool Oranje (Oranje Girl's High School) and began to dabble in theatre after she opened a coffee shop opposite the Stellenbosch University Drama Department. In 2001 she turned to theatre on a full-time basis. In 2002 she, Marthinus Basson and Jaco Bouwer founded the company Vleis, Rys en Aartappels to produce independent Afrikaans work. Their first production was Botha’s own Spanner (2002) and has been followed by more than 60 productions and theatre projects. As a playwright she has been both influential and prolific. Barrie Hough rated Botha as the most important voice in Afrikaans theatre since Deon Opperman and Reza de Wet.  Her plays include Spanner (2002), Tip, (2003), Balle (2004), and a magnificent Afrikaans version of Long Day's Journey into Night (called Lang Dagreis na die Nag) amongst others. She has written for the journals Insig and LitNet, and has been a theatre organiser for festivals such as the KKNK and the Woordfees. Additionally, she has involved with community theatre work on the farms around Stellenbosch over the years. In 2015 she became caretaker Director of the Stellenbosch Woordfees on the retirement of Dorothea van Zyl.


Photo Gallery 


Sign up to get our newsletter for all the latest news, shows, and events

Khoekhoegowab: Vrystaati di Dī//khasib !Gâi!gâisens ge #an!gâs tsī !gôasiba Khoe-San Khoena ra mâ. Nē khoen ge //în aboxan !na /gaisa #goms tsī !hû//arede! kho/gara hâ,nâu khoen !hūb din /khas khami.

Afrikaans: Die Vrystaat Kunstefees erken en respekteer die Khoe-San van die Vrystaat en die diep geestelike verhoudings wat hulle met hul voorouers, hierdie land en sy mense het.


English: The Vrystaat Arts Festival acknowledges and respects the Khoe-San of the Free State and the deep spiritual attachment to their ancestors and relationships they have to this country and its people.

Sesotho: Mokete wa tsa Bonono Freistata o ananela le ho hlompha morabe wa Khoe-San wa Freistata, le kamano e tebileng ya semoya eo ba nang le yona le badimo ba bona hammoho le dikamano tseo ba nang le tsona le naha ena le baahi ba yona.