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Durbanite Talks Politics in the new Showmax Series: The Girl From St Agnes

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The girls from South Africa in The girl from St Agnes

If you haven’t yet watched The Girl from St Agnes from start to finish, then what have you been doing this past week?

Showmax released this 8-part murder mystery series on 30 January and it easily broke the record for the most unique viewers in 24 hours – proving its binge-worthiness and showing how ready the world is for South African English TV. I for one, have been ready for years, and so instead of being actively social last friday night, I stayed at home with my mother and we started and unintentionally finished the entire show.  

My overtaxed mother may have been falling asleep on the couch during the opening credits but soon she was resurrected by the shocking plot twists and many of what the TV ad describes as ‘admissions of guilt’. Set at an all-girls’ boarding school in the KZN midlands, schoolgirl Lexi Summerveld (Jane de Wet) falls to her death and the case is dismissed as suicide. But drama teacher Kate Bellard (Nina Milner) remains unconvinced and furthers the investigation herself, exposing secrets, lifting veils and ultimately showing that the school and all who attend are not what she (and we) once thought. Transfixing and professional, I was blown away by this show and my poor friends will vouch for how it’s all I’ve been talking about lately.

girl from st agnes

Having lived in California this past year, I was ready to give up on launching a career in my own beautiful country. But TGFSA has truly restored my hope in South African film and media and more specifically, the hope for our female writers, producers and directors. The team that created, filmed and funded the show is an all-female collaboration which is rare, even for Hollywood. Not only are the writers, directors and producers all women, but the story focuses more on the lives and struggles of the South African female experience too. It’s the men and the schoolboys who are villainous and destructive while the girls are the victims who bear the brunt of their perverted or unfaithful husbands, abusive boyfriends, neglective fathers, or disappointing sons.

The notorious “boys will be boys” line is referenced at least twice, hinting at its persistent circulation in patriarchal South Africa. But even as each suspect (and there are many) that Kate suspects is a male, each also becomes a red herring, making the victim, the murderer and the detective an all-female game too. Perhaps what this is saying is that we women need to work together and support each other more. And perhaps we need to be more courageous, less trustful and dependent, and own our individual narratives just like S.A. men have the learned confidence to do.

girl from st agnes

What I also really enjoyed is the political landscape that the show doesn’t choose to ignore. Lines like “you people”, “colonialists”, and allusions to farm burning, land stealing and robberies pinpoint the present South African experience and highlight the racial tension that is still very much alive today; even amongst the integrated and somewhat progressive schoolgirls at St Agnes. This exposes the backlash and the influence our parents’ generation still has on us, however the small progress we’ve made so far is also shown by the (albeit few) mixed friendships and relationships, peace treaties and apologies, as well as a well-mixed cast even if *sigh* the main characters are still mostly white.

girl from st agnes

I guess The Girl from St Agnes should be regarded as a snapshot of present progression and should not be expected to transcend all boundaries at once – as we still have a long way to go – but rather we should choose to focus on the pride of making it this far in South African English television and in non-conservative material at that. Sure, it’s at first unsettling to hear our accent on the screen, and maybe even more so when it’s talking rape and murder and suicide (and and and). But after a while it hits that this is our reality. We are no longer watching the far-fetched American world with its foreign accent, but instead we are consuming our own unique demeanor and personally relatable experiences. As an ex-all girls’ catholic school girl myself, I feel united in my own story and no longer feel the ‘fomo’ of American High School as intensely as I used to.

I’m so excited for the future of South African TV and I hope I get the chance to join in someday, too. And you, fellow unenthused and disillusioned writer/actor/director/any form of creative… you should be too.

Written by Candice Buckle

 

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NOW OPEN: DANTE Umhlanga

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“The team from Dante approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping them with a project,” says interior designer Alice Kelly. “I was thrilled, but have to admit that the timelines frightened me! Once I realised that the bones of the building were good and even though the deadlines were really tight…I couldn’t say no.”  Built on the site previously occupied by the renowned Ile Maurice restaurant, Durban-based Kelly has been tasked to bring ‘a totally new restaurant and dining experience to life’, for the three owners Trent Varejes and brothers Andile and Ayanda Ngidi.    

“Dante is going to be something quite magical,” enthuses Alice. “We have NOT held back in any way. It is the type of place where you will simply feel at home and at the same time be taken on a journey that is exciting and unforgettable. This place has brought dining pleasure to many generations over the years, so we have added some life, love and colour to the venue for the next generation to enjoy.”

Combined with the strong visual aesthetic, the owners set out to find a chef who could interpret their culinary dreams for the space.  Enter another local Durban industry stalwart, Chef Marco Nico.  Well respected, uber-talented, forager and charcutier Chef Nico has over the past 30 years, owned and run many of Durban’s most well-known and popular restaurants.  

As Chef Consultant, Nico will together with Christina Martin-trained Head Chef Kyle Govender, bring to life the contemporary Mediterranean / Italian menu, with a South African twist.  Those that know Chef Nico and his slow-food ethic, will also know about his ‘local is lekker’ approach to food and you’ll find that in abundance on the Bistro menu on offer.  Chef Govender is well acquainted with the style and tastes of the East Coast, having worked at both The Oyster Box and The Beverly Hills, so expect to see an abundance of local ingredients, sustainably sourced meat and fish and the best of international… only when absolutely necessary.

Nico is excited to be bringing a whole new era of diners into a space previously recognised as one of Durban’s most famous dining spots.  Inspiration from the restaurant’s former life, can be seen in the way the building has been completely re-imagined to suit its new purpose.  Multiple venues on multiple floors offer something for every customer – from the island-style Verandah opening into the light and airy Restaurant, to the elegant Champagne Bar, tropical Oriental Bar and Cigar Bar, before stepping outside to a Gin Terrace and upwards to a show-stopping Roof-top Bar, with a 180 degree Indian Ocean sea view.

The re-incarnation of the building is ‘no accident’ according to joint owners Ayanda Ngidi, who together with twin brother Andile, have been dreaming of a venue like this ‘for as long as we can remember’.  Born and bred Durbanites, the twin brothers are well-known in local eventing circles having been the brains and energy behind The Social Pop-Up event co-ordination company that they started in 2011.

The third member of the trio, Trent Varejes, hails from Johannesburg but has known the brothers for 10 years. Discussions were already afoot for Varejes to become involved in the eventing business, when the twins presented him with an idea for a multi-storey, multi-function venue, on the Ille Maurice site, that had become available for long-term lease. Seven weeks later, their dreams have been fully realised, with the opening of Dante.

According to Ayanda, Dante, which means steadfast and enduring in Latin ‘fits with both our faith and work ethic’…it’s also ‘catchy’ he says, ”we thought it would be easy for people to remember.”  Combining their collective business experience and hospitality skills towards this one joint project has been ‘really exciting’, says Varejes.  “We wanted to create a ‘knock-out’ restaurant and I believe that with an amazing team, we’ve realised our vision.”

For the interiors, designer Alice Kelly has gone big and bold, with hints of the legacy and footprint of lle Maurice. All the existing restaurant tiles, balustrades, basins and a few mosaics have been retained to create the base of the story. “I have added moulded pressed ceilings for character, and layered with bold wallpapers, art, velvets, linens, chandeliers, chunky bamboo blinds, elegant light fittings and furniture. I think every colour under the sun has been used in this project…however it all seems to work together like a beautiful piece of tapestry.”

Spanning three exciting levels Dante boasts a Main Restaurant and Bar, Gin Garden, Cigar Bar, Oyster & Champagne Bar, Signature Bar and Rooftop Bar with hypnotic ocean views. Opens on 29 November from 12 noon and thereafter, daily for brunch, lunch and dinner; as well as for special events and private functions.   

Contact https://thedanteexperience.co.za or call 087 1333263 to book or for more information.

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Wonder Woman Run – 9 AUGUST 2020 (Celebrating Women’s Day)

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Women are Wonderful – there is no doubt about that! Wonder Woman is blessed with unique powers and abilities; Beauty, Strength, Wisdom, Speed just like our women of South Africa. Be part of the Wonder Woman Run where thousands of active people take to the streets wearing their Justice LeagueTM Wonder Woman T-shirts, walking and running in celebration of Women’s Day!

Enter the Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series. Join your fellow runners (or walkers, crawlers and cyclists) and experience the heroics of completing a 2.5km, 5km, 7.5km or 10km run/walk in your very own neighbourhood.

Here is an opportunity to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves – the many underprivileged young children who certainly need a helping hand in these trying times! The best of all is you will be doing what you enjoy most and receive a T-shirt and medal for your effort! Be a hero and run or walk for a worthy cause.

On the 19th of July we will see Superman everywhere running in every small town and every big city in the country. But now it’s time for Wonder Woman to join The Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series and make her debut.

Participation in these Virtual Runs/Walks ensures contributions to beneficiaries such as Headstart Kids [who provide specialised, nutritional food packs to children aged 6 monthsto 5 years]. Relief will be given to people in need. The more entries, the more Food Packs and meals our beneficiaries can distribute.

The Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series
The Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series is the official series of Warner Bros. Consumer Products in South Africa. The events are produced by Sportsvendo, the same company who brought the unprecedented success of, The Color Run to South Africa.

Designed to empower Women, Men, and Children from all walks of life to harness their favourite Justice LeagueTM character and unleash the Super Hero within. Calling all Super Heroes to The Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series.

You will be able to partake in 5 Virtual Runs. You will leave from your residence, on the same day at the same time at 8am as Superman for the Superman Run then the following months Wonder Woman Run, Aquaman Run, Batman Run and then The Flash Run; running, walking, jogging, cycling, pushing prams or even crawling all in aid of our beneficiaries to help the people of South Africa who need it most, our children.

The 2020 Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series takes place on the following dates:
Sunday, 19 July: Superman Run
Sunday, 9 August: Wonder Woman Run
Sunday, 6 September: Aquaman Run
Sunday, 4 October: Batman Run
Sunday, 8 November: The Flash Run

Follow our Celebrity Super Heroes, Letshego Zulu, Nicole Capper, Kagiso Sebediela, LeAnne Dlamini, Paul Rothman, Coach Simon, Heidi M (resident greatness coach) and Patron; Ilzé Saunders. They will make sure our eyes are bright with anticipation, and our brows have the lightest trickle of sweat as they take South Africa through some crazy fun warm-up routines before the Wonder Woman Run, and we all sing and dance along even while apart.

After these Virtual Runs/Walks all South Africans will get the opportunity to participate in the actual “venue-based mass group” events that will take place in the major South African cities.

WONDER WOMAN ENTRY AND SUPER HERO KIT:
What good is doing good without a few goodies? Entry* into The Justice LeagueTM Virtual Run Series gets you equipped with the following essential armour:
As part of their entry each Super Hero participating will receive a Super Hero Kit** (customised per event so make sure you collect all 5 Super Hero Kits).

For the Wonder Woman Run the kit will include:
Collectors Edition Wonder Woman Medal
Limited Edition Wonder Woman T-shirt
Limited Edition Wonder Woman Button Badge
* T&Cs apply.
**Super Hero Kit content branded per respective Super Hero Run.

How to enter:
Fly to our website www.justiceleagueseries.co.za and give the “ENTER HERE” button a KABLAM!
You will unlock your Super Hero access from this page.

• For more information on being part of the very first DC Super Hero Virtual Run Series, visit us on our website and social media platforms or drop us an email at hello@WonderWomanRun.co.za
www.justiceleagueseries.co.za
• Facebook: @JLRunSeries
• Instagram: @JLRunSeries
• Twitter: @JLRunSeries
• TikTok: @JLRunSeries
• YouTube: JLRunSeries

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uShaka’s Flippin’ Fun Walk Run Race in August

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uShaka Marine World will be adding to the ‘unlimited fun’ when it hosts its very own Walk Run Race on Saturday, August 24th.

Dr Stella Khumalo, CEO, uShaka Marine World tells us that this inaugural event is one event you do not want to miss this year! “We not only want to encourage everyone out there to have unlimited fun on Durban’s stunning Golden Mile and at Africa’s largest and most exciting marine theme park, but we want to highlight the importance of good health and an active lifestyle for everyone participating in this event”, she said.

uShaka’s Walk Run Race is hosted by Africa’s largest marine theme park and KwaZulu Natal Athletics and is being sponsored by Coca Cola, PSK Studios and Sanoqwabe Consultants. The event starts at 7am sharp, and things should wrap up around 9am as it includes both a 5km and 10km leg to suit persons of all fitness levels and ages. A little birdie told us that there will be some great prizes being awarded in the following categories: Juniors, 35, 40, 50 and 60 years for the young at heart.

The race is open to those over the age of 14 years old and both walkers and runners who register before Saturday August 17th will receive a branded t-shirt for the event! There will be refreshment stations along the route as well, to quench your thirst.

Register for a leisurely 5km stroll or perhaps a 10k run online through www.webtickets.co.za and at any Pick n Pay store. All race packs will need to be collected on Thursday August 22nd or Friday, August 23rd, between 1pm to 5pm only @ uShaka Marine World’s Wahooz on the Promenade restaurant.

For more information contact Laster on 082 470 6461 or Protas on 078 446 3655. Email ushakarace@gmail.com or info@ushakarace.co.za.

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