South Africans were abuzz about the ANC Centenary celebration television production being a resounding success and one that reflected the history of the ANC superbly. The agencies responsible for the coup were the VWV Group and Blue Moon. VWV was tasked with producing the event, Blue Moon was responsible for the creative deliverables and technical elements were provided by Gearhouse.

The celebration extravaganza aired to over four-million SABC viewers and told the story of the ANC’s 100-year history in a way that conveyed the significance of the historical events in an entertaining manner. Appealing to both young and old, the production included audio visual footage from throughout the ANC’s history, which was coupled with a strong sense of celebration to form the cornerstone of the creative concept behind “Tshihumbudzo: Our Story, Our Future”. It was a two-hour visual spectacle of relevant dance, song, music, poetry, theatre and AV footage reflecting this rich history.

VWV employed largely the same experienced technical production team from the Gearhouse Group of Companies that produced the World Cup Opening and Closing ceremonies to execute this event seamlessly. In totality, VWV provided an overall site contingency of 600 personnel. The logistics team was tasked with sourcing accommodation for 418 people in an already overflowing Bloemfontein, to feeding, transporting, managing and keeping the large cast happy. A substantial cast management team, and on the ground production team of 100, built an ‘artists village’ at the stadium to keep all crew members fed and watered.

Blue Moon’s executive creative director, DJ Grant, had proposed the concept of “a peoples’ history of the ANC” told through a documentary–style storyline that blended theatre, choreography, musical performance and documentary material. The overarching story was that of the historical trajectory of the ANC, but the “story within a story” was that of a woman who had lived through the times and was herself a participant in the struggle. It was also the story of her grandson’s journey to a realisation that the story of the struggle is his story too. Each era was celebrated in song and dance relevant to the cultural milieu of the time and of the period of struggle.

The talented cast included 14 lead artists, 12 ensemble cast members, nine band members, five backing vocalists and a troupe of 20 dancers. The star-studded production was directed by the acclaimed James Ngcobo with Victor Masondo as the musical director. Gregory Maqoma choreographed the mammoth cast that included the Vuyani Dance Theatre, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Judith Sephuma, Dorothy Masuka, Zahara, Simphiwe Dana, Vusi Mahlasela, Ray Phiri, Karen Zoid, AKA and many more South African greats.

The concept was accommodated through the construction of a 600m2, six-tiered stage, designed by James MacNamara Designs and constructed by Gearhouse South Africa together with sister company Sets, Drapes and Screens and required the expertise of a 150-crew technical team to complete. The Gearhouse team worked tirelessly to rig the massive set and run the technical requirements for 12 screens and 200 moving lights, on and around the set and stadium; as well as the installation and programming of an enormous stadium audio system.

Baleka Mbete, National Chairperson of the African National Congress was effusive in her praise for the agencies, “’Tshihumbudzo: Our Story, Our Future’ depicts the long struggle of our people for freedom, led by the ANC through drama, dance, music and archival material. Since the initial broadcast on SABC 1 on 8 January, we have been inundated with requests for ‘Tshihumbudzo’ by educational institutions and parents who want to share the story with their children."

Story and Photos reprinted courtesy VWV.

Feb 3, 2012

The Gearhouse Group of Companies