Mzansi’s 100 of 2017: Disruptor, Jade Bowers hails from the Mother City- Cape Town. The 30-year-old designer, producer and director’s love for the arts were ignited by her mother who was a frequent theatre-goer.
Bowers recalls the first time she was exposed to professional theatre, it was a musical called ‘Kat and kings’. She had never felt more alive when she stepped into the creative space and was immediately mesmerized by this other world.
“I think I enjoyed the ritual and ceremony around going to the theatre, the anticipation, the idea of new stories and adventures to dive into. The spectacle of the lights and sound and the night out – the magic of the whole experience,” says Bowers.
From the age of 21, this UCT Drama and Sociology graduate was making things happen on stage. She worked as a lighting technician and operator, set designer, costume designer and stage manager across the country before directing her first play in 2011.
Her first professional production was ‘Salaam’ written and performed by multi-award winning playwright, actor, and producer Ashraf Johaardien.
“The play moves fluidly through multiple timeframes to focus on themes of cultural identity, history and group belonging through the lens of personal memory, specifically that of Cape Coloured people,” explains Bowers.
“…what stands out for me is how to collaborate and share ideas and space. Theatre is inherently about collaboration and teamwork. It is about the shared vision. This play solidified these ideals for me and I continue to grow by each collaboration I make,” said Bowers.
Years working with her mentor Johaardien has taught her important leadership skills as well as believing in the power of Self.
“Ashraf Johaardien has been a mentor, a friend and a creative partner. He has shown me the many facets of being an artist and how to push the limits of your creative style,” adds Bowers.
Bowers has made a name for herself in the theatre industry. Through the years she has acquired multiple awards for her work in theatre. She was nominated at the Naledi Award ceremony and was named one of AfriPOP’s Top Five Female Theatre Makers in South Africa. Jade is the 2016 Standard Bank Young Artist (SBYA) for Theatre and was recently appointed UJ Arts & Culture Production Liaison.
According to Bowers, “all of the decisions you make need to be able to stand alone but also work together. Mostly, though, art is about the audience and with that platform comes responsibility; so it’s about choosing carefully what you want to say, and how. That’s the greatest challenge – and privilege – as an artist.”
Bowers latest play is called BLACK.
BLACK is based on CA Davids’ 2014 novel ‘The Blacks of Cape Town’, Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning writer/director Penny Youngleson has written an adaptation for the stage which intricately balances the poetry and pain of discovery, of unpacking history and the drama of family politics.
It will see accomplished actress Patel tackling her first one-hander, under the directorial hand of Bowers, and with musical composition and accompaniment by Daniel Geddes. Choosing, as always, to highlight stories which are not part of the mainstream canon.
“At this important moment in our country’s history, how do we as South Africans – with our multitude of cultures and lived experiences – look at our past to understand our present and future?” asks Bowers.
30 secs quickfire with Jade Bowers:
What do you do in preparation for a show?
For each show it is different. It depends on the actors and the process we had in creating. Although the normal theatre checks always apply – globe check, sound check, props check.
What is your favourite local dish?
Must be Lamb Biryani. Always been one of my favourites growing up.
What would be your perfect local holiday destination?
Anywhere with a beach and seafood!
Besides producing and being a designer what are your other talents?
I like to think that I am quite a good cook. I enjoy trying out new recipes and generally feeding people, souls and bellies both.
Who are your favourite artists?
That is a difficult question! I have too many in too many different genres and disciplines! My current theatre director crushes include Neil Coppen, Penny Youngleson, Tshego Khutsoane.
Your day is not complete unless…
A good cup of coffee has been had!
Where to watch BLACK?
BLACK is playing at the Alexander Upstairs in Cape Town on the 11 – 17th of December 2017.
Book tickets here: https://alexanderbar.co.za/show/black/
Facebook: Jade Bowers Design & Management