Flower of Shembe –

a mythic operetta about faith and destiny


It is a fictional narrative, based loosely on the lives of past messiahs (including the celebrated Isaiah Shembe, founder of the iBandla la maNazaretha church of Zululand).

Shembe the man also had many detractors however, who saw him variously as a radical revolutionary, a charlatan and/or a trickster-magician.

The music play, flower of shembe, is a re-imagining of what trials and tribulations might befall a messiah-in-the-making coming to terms with their own destiny.

Its musical idiom is ‘elastically’ Pan African, drawing vastly from urban Zulu music modes and harmonization weaved together with modern chamber orchestra accompaniment.

The music play makes deliberate use of quirky, jagged language and sung speech – a stylized technique often employed by composer and librettist, Neo Muyanga and his NeoSong Company.

This brand new production showcases Muyanga in collaboration with a bevy of theatre and new media mavericks:

Ina Wichterich
theatre director, choreographer and former dancer with the Pina Bausch company,  Wuppertal, Germany.

Craig Leo
theatre designer, aerial acrobat and performer-member of the Handspring Puppet Company, Cape Town, South Africa.

Dianne Schepers
fine artist, felt architect and international designer based in Switzerland.

the production boasts a multi-award winning cast starring:

Chuma Sopotela
Fleur du Cap best actress 2010.

Faniswa Yisa
Best foreign production for every year everday I am walking at the Argentinian theatre awards 2009.

The flower of shembe production sees this creative team bring to life a sacred garden – home of the new Shembe – made out of pure-felt sculpture.

Stop-frame hand-drawn animation and a special set of mechanical/felted wings help illustrate this epic 21st century tale of a young hero reluctant to become the reincarnation of a messiah.

The flower of shembe debuts May 1st to 5th, 2012 at the South African National Gallery a rare and distinguished honour for a new production.

Neo muyanga
Composer & musical director

I am keenly interested in story-telling. It is from the telling of our dreams that we gather the energies needed to craft our new reality

Acclaimed South African musical director, songwriter and composer Neo Muyanga was born in Soweto, into a long-line of traditional composers and musicians.

Neo is son of the Muyanga clan (Chopi musicians and inventors of the musical instrument, the Timbila, Mozambique) and the Shembe clan (distant relation to Isaiah Shembe, prophet and founder of the Shembe church/liturgy, Zululand).

Neo studied the Italian Madrigal tradition with choral maestro, Piero Poclen, in Trieste, Italy.

In the mid 90’s Neo co-founded the acoustic guitar duo, BLK Sonshine (with Masauko Chipembere) garnering critical acclaim throughout Southern Africa and on tours Internationally.

Neo writes music plays and composes for chorus, chamber and large ensemble.  He continues to tour widely as a solo performer and as a member of Blk Sonshine.

Neo composes in a hybrid style, mixing pentatonic Southern African composition technique and township theatre with Italian ‘art’ music.

He also curates the Pan African Space Station – a portal that plays host to an archive of contemporary Pan African sound and art on the internet and in live venues across Cape Town and the globe.

Most recently composed Chamber Musical Works:

  • ‘The Flower of Shembe’  2011/12
  • ‘Memory of How it Feels’  2009/10

Film Scores:

  • ‘Il Console’  Alba Produzioni, Italy  2010
  • ‘Believe’  Bomb Productions, SA 2009
  • ‘Land of Thirst’  Vuleka Productions, SA 2008

Theatre Scores:

  • ‘Ouroboros’  Handspring Puppet Company, SA  2010
  • ‘The Tempest’, by William Shakespeare Royal Shakespeare Company, UK  2009
  • ‘Every year, Everyday day, I am Walking’ Magnet Theatre, SA  2008
  • ‘Cargo’  Jazzart Dance Theatre, SA  2007
  • ‘The Fireraisers’ by Max Frisch (Magnet Theatre/Theatre Spiral SA/Switzerland  2006

Recorded Albums:

  • Blk Sonshine  1999
  • The Listening Room  2003
  • Fire, Famine, Plague and Earthquake 2007
  • Good Life  2009
  • Dipalo  2011

Notable Performances:

  • Artists for a New South Africa Gala, Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 2000
  • Nelson Mandela Benefit 46664 concert, George, SA, 2006
  • hosted by Nelson Mandela
  • Headline Act at Prince Claus Awards, Amsterdam, NL, 2011
  • Hosted by the Queen and Royal family of Orange

Notable Collaborations:

  • Recorded with Rza and Tekitha members of hip-hop superstar outfit, The Wu-Tang Clan in New York City, USA 2001
  • Composed choral ‘work’ songs for Metal Culture, an arts consultancy led by Director, Jude Kelly (OBE) in London, UK, 2005/06.
Ina Wichterich-Mogane
Director & Choreographer

I seek inspiration from the individual and unique stories of the performers in a room rather than through preconceived ideas regarding choreography.

Multi-talented director, choreographer and dancer Ina, born in Bonn, Germany has been living and working in South Africa since 1999.

Ina studied/graduated as a ballet and contemporary dancer at the Balletakademie of Cologne, Germany and Rotterdam, Netherlands.

After graduation she moved to Finland and performed with the Aurinkobaletti (Director: Raya Lehmusan) and choreographer/director Caroline Carlson, with whom she toured throughout Scandanavia and Russia.

Ina relocated to Paris and became a member of L’Esquisse (Directors: Joelle Bouvier and Regis Obadia) with whom she toured extensively internationally and danced in various film productions.

Ina went on to perform with the world-famous Pina Bausch Dance Theatre and other acclaimed European companies including Folkwang Tanztheater and Wupperthaler Tanztheater (both under the direction of Pina Bausch).

In South Africa Ina worked with Jazzart Dance Theatre – where she continues to have significant influence under current Artistic Director Jackie Manyaapelo.

In 2001 Cape Town Tango Ensemble accompanied famous dancers Ina Wichterich and Mark Hoeben when they produced Tango del Fuego (Director: Martinus Basson).

Notable choreographies/collaborations :

  • Rain in a Dead Mans Footprints 2004
  • Ubuhle Bemvelo – a collaborative work with 20 dancers from Jazzart,
  • La Rosa, CAFDA, Dance for All and the Wilvan School of Dance 2005
  • Guardian of the Flame 2005
  • “Eyo” 2006
  • “Magogo” 2006
  • “Altyd Jonker “2006
  • “Cargo” 2007
  • “Jampass” – 2007 – for the FNB Dance Umbrella
  • “Woyzek”2010
  • Opera”The Flying Dutchman”at the Artscape 2010
  • “Partly God” 2011

Ina directed and choreographed:

  • I Can’t Give You Anything But Love –  for the Remix Dance Company 2006
  • Beautyfull with Jazzart, Remix Dance Company and SA Circle of Dance Academy, performed at Artscape and Baxter theatre, 2008.
  • Gatherings with Jazzart 2010
  • Lovaffair 2010
  • Memory of How it Feels with composer  Neo Muyanga, 2011
  • Cantico with Jazzart 2011
  • In the film Master Harad and the Boys Ina directed and choreographed the dance scenes 2010.
  • Currently directing and choreographing Flower of Shembe” with composer Neo Muyanga, Jazzart, Remix and other Cape Town based dance initiatives.
Craig Leo
Production designer

The image is the most powerful key to unlock the secrets of the mind.

Craig Leo is a highly respected Cape Town-based designer, puppeteer and performing artist who has worked on a number of award-winning productions.

During the 1990’s Craig began training in circus arts, performing with The Zip Zap Circus.

Whilst performing in the Sun City circus extravaganza, Baletsatsi, Craig together with colleagues, formed an acrobatic theatre company called Myth, who subsequently toured Austria and Germany.

As a performer Craig has worked with the Magnet Theatre on the productions Pump and O’nnestbo as well as performing the role of Venticelli’ in Lara Foot Newton’s production of Amadeus at the Baxter Theatre.

Craig has developed a long standing working relationship with Magnet Theatre that owes much to his exacting standard of work and performance.

Costume Design credit :

  • Afro-Dizzia – The Sun City Extravaganza,
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Pieter Toerien’s touring production  2004
  • “Romeo and Juliet”  2010
  • Some Like It Vrot- David Kramer  2011
  • For both Jazzart Dance Theatre and Magnet Theatre collaborations Craig
  • designed both costumes and set for :
  • Medea  1994 – 96
  • Bolero 2002
  • Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints 2004 – 2005
  • Cargo  2007
  • Partly God 2009

Craig has also worked extensively with the acclaimed Handspring Puppet Company on a local and international level – touring to the UK, Europe and the USA.

Productions with The Handspring Puppet Company include :

  • Tall Horse
  • Il Ritorno d’Ulisse
  • House of the Dancing Water
  • War Horse at The Royal National Theatre in London –
  • Craig was elected associate puppetry director for War Horses transfer to the New London Theatre in the West End.

Craig has also overseen Production Design for the following local productions:

  • Lovaffair  2010
  • London Road  2010
  • Wombtide  2010
  • Benchmarks  2011
  • “Night, Mother 2011  in Cape Town and on tour.
  • “The Flying Dutchman”  2011  for the Wagnerian Society of South Africa.
Dianne Schepers
Set designer

I strive to create destinations, pieces of wonder, places for introspection and meditation where hopes, dreams and aspirations are possible.

Dianne Schepers is an internationally renowned Dutch artist who lives and works near Zurich, Switzerland.

Felt is Diannes prime artistic medium, one that is rich in vibrancy, colour, texture, softness and filled with endless energy, as well as being imbued with Diannes own energy, that which she brings to each unique piece.

This vibrant medium translates particularly well into a South African context, making this the perfect environment for Dianne to hold workshops for local artists, made possible through her collaboration with Youngblood Arts and Culture Development.

Dianne intricately layers vibrant hues of this earthy and raw fibre with other natural elements as diverse as cashmere, silk, yak fur, cloth remnants, and even the bits of straw that get tangled into sheep fleece, to create added dimension, contrast, and poetry to her three dimensional wall pieces.

Diannes works are the epitome of a slow art. Whilst each one may possess a sense of her intense and painstaking process, the finished results feel light and airy rather than arduous.

Dianne invites gentle caressing of her lush works to allow the sense of touch to enhance ones experience. This tactile quality of her work has become the paramount feature in a project she is producing for the blind.

Dianne is inspired and fascinated by Mother Nature’s treasures as well as the work of many cultures and people, creators of colours, objects and dreams.

Exhibitions and Installations:

  • Permanent Collection: BlindArt – Royal National College for the Blind – Hereford, UK
  • Maison & Objet Fair – Paris, France  2012
  • RoomToRead – Charity Gala & Auction – Zurich, Switzerland  2011
  • SuisseHome, BerneExpo – Berne, Switzerland  2011
  • International Hospitality Design Exhibition – Rimini, Italy  2010
  • Touched -Gallery Forum Zugerland  – Steinhausen, Switzerland  2010
  • Amazing Felt –  Gallery Amaterasu -Wouwse Plantage, Netherlands  2010
  • Pure Felt – Gallery Saba Steck, Flims, Switzerland  2010
  • Pure Felt – Does Interieurs and Gallery Bianca Landgraaf, Naren, Netherlands  2009 – 2010
  • Origin – Haus am See – Unteraegeri, Switzerland  2009

Diannes Dream:

is to continue experimenting with felt to create unique pieces of art and to further develop her countless ideas and explore the endless possibilities of felt, together with other art lovers, designers and inspiring people around the world.

is of further sharing the soul of felt, its possibilities and amazing effects of painting and creating with natural fibres with others.

is of her artworks or collaborative pieces becoming an intergral part of the lives, homes and living/working spaces of a broad group of individuals.

Falling for Felt:

Diannes love of felt has as much to do with its magnificent, raw, artistic qualities as it does with its other positive attributes.

Felt has low flammability, excellent temperature and good sound insulating properties.

Felt is also made of naturally renewable raw materials.  It is fully biodegradable.

Felt artwork is suitable for spacious walls in residential, hospitality, public and commercial spaces where it radiates warmth and resonates with people.