Ernest Tchwenyane – on the spot at the Dubai Expo
Tebogo Ditinti: Part of the technical team that contributed to the successful execution of Mother of Freedom was one Mr Ernest Tchwenyane whom I’m introducing today.
“I joined SAST (The South African State Theatre) in 2015 as a Sound Technician, straight from TUT where I studied Performing Arts Technology now known as Theatre Arts Design. My role there as you can imagine was to set up, manage, and run audio for different shows.
“2019 is where the story of my life gets more interesting, I remember being called to the office by my previous manager (Ms. Tshiamo Mokgadi) and she told me that I’d been selected as part of the succession planning at SAST. I remember sitting in that chair not really knowing what to do, and thinking, what do I even say? One of her questions was: “What are your goals and what do you see yourself as?” and my response was, I definitely do not see myself as a sound technician forever, I want to see myself as head technician, have different responsibilities and improve on my admin and through that I learned that with patience, hard work and dedication you can go far.
“So from then different fields were explored, but technical coordination was more appealing, something I saw myself fully doing.
“So we ran with it and I started as a technical coordinator for the Kucheza Africa Festival in 2020 but sadly that couldn’t proceed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I started my role as a production manager for SAST on 1 August 2020 and I manage a team of full time and ad hoc technicians who maintain the technical facilities and support all shows and events at SAST. I also work closely with creative teams to manage the physical production and technical elements of the theatre’s shows.
“My role in the 2020 Dubai Expo is to lead a team of technical and creatives by providing production schedules and being the central link of communication between artists and technical suppliers, this is to ensure that all of their technical riders and technical requirements are met and their shows are able to run without any glitches. Obviously with every role there comes challenges, the biggest one had to be the preparations for Mother of Freedom, from our FDR (Final Dress Rehearsal) here at SAST, to not having everyone in one space to rehearse and be part of the rehearsal physically.
“The 2nd part of the challenge was that the venue we booked had a wedding a night before our event and so we could only set up on the day of the show, so we basically started with our set up at 7am on the 2nd. That meant more pressure for us … because we hadn’t rehearsed in the space and we hadn’t rehearsed as a group; we had Thandiswa Mazwai, Mafikizolo, Luthando Arts Academy, Volley Nchabeleng, Lesego Mankwe, Nondumiso Tembe and Hape Mokhele as part of Mother of Freedom.
“As challenging as the day was, we rose above and conquered. We had our 1st sound check at 15:00 with Mafikizolo, then Luthando Arts did theirs at 16:00 – 17:30, then Thandiswa had hers after, we then had a quick run through of about 45mins…
“When the show started it was magical, everything gelled, there were no glitches and all thanks to the team involved, very supportive, very hands-on and they worked very hard to make Mother of Freedom a success. There’s just a lot that I probably didn’t go into.
“We also had the South African Pavilion at the expo site which had Volley Nchabeleng, Master KG and Lesego Mankwe performing. And the crowd was really impressed with what SA had to offer, and we’ve really received great feedback.
“The energy as always is electrifying, I mean it’s #TeamSAST, #TeamSA in Dubai, No way that was going to be dull. The one thing we can all admit is that the heat is unbearable!
“The Expo being the largest event happening during the pandemic will obviously rank up there for me, because of what I’ve learned, my growth and the experience I’ve managed to gain. I’m definitely gonna remember the Expo forever.
“My best experience and highlight of my career has to be Mother of Freedom, mainly because of how we managed to rise above and deliver a big show at that large scale and have feedback be that positive.
Ernest t is a gem, we can all agree. We wish him bigger shows and more success in less hotter places.
Thank you for your service, Ernie.
We hope to see Ernest Tchwenyane soar in his chosen career path.
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