Q&A with new creative figurehead for Joburg City Theatres

Q&A with new creative figurehead for Joburg City Theatres

Joburg City Theatres this past week announced the appointment of their new Executive Producer, Claire Pacariz, with immediate effect.

“Claire brings the experience and expertise to meet challenges through a proven record of programming, sponsorship, marketing and media management,” says Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema, Chief Executive Office of Joburg City Theatres.

Under the executive leadership of Pacariz, Joburg City Theatres will be embarking upon a new phase of the journey towards growth and development – a phase of bringing the three theatres together.

The top three position at Joburg City Theatres are now filled by women, namely Bridget Nonhlanhla Mashika (Chief Operations Officer), Nduneni-Ngema and Pacariz.

PETER TROMP got the scoop from PACARIZ about her new journey and her vision going forward.

Firstly, congratulations on your appointment. How did you feel about the announcement?

I was very surprised but very excited at the same time. I also felt a sense of belonging as I’m passionate about the theatre, and have worked hard over the years.

When did you discover the magic of theatre, and how did you go about carving out a career for yourself in the industry?

My first theatre experience was in matric, when we went as a school to the Market Theatre and watched ‘The Great Gatsby’. Those were the days when people dressed up – we were in our school uniform, and I will never forget the experience. The ladies in the audience wore hats, beautiful dresses and shoes. It’s funny what one remembers. I also remembered thinking that I would love to be in the theatre business.

After I obtained my Diploma in Public Relations Management, I started my career in the PR industry, and later joined the casino industry. When the position of Production/Marketing Assistant opened at the Joburg Theatre, I jumped for it.

I’ve been at the Joburg Theatre for 12 years now, and I’ve had the opportunity of working with incredible companies – both local and international. There’s never a dull moment, as we work on different shows all the time. There’s a great team at the theatre, and we’ve managed to build a respectable reputation in the industry.

Tell us a bit about your new position and what responsibilities you will be facing.

My title is Executive Producer for Joburg City Theatres – this includes Joburg Theatre, Soweto Theatre and Roodepoort Theatre.

My main responsibility is to offer diverse, world-class entertainment at all venues which will attract all citizens of Joburg.

At this point in time, what do you identify as the primary challenges Joburg City Theatres are facing in Johannesburg?

The primary challenge is that we need to form a culture of theatregoing – South Africans are not prone to going to the theatre, so it’s a matter of educating the youth.

Money is always a challenge – when the economy is tight, people won’t spend money on entertainment.

Product is a challenge – we now have casino theatres to compete against, and there’s a lack of product available.

The last challenge is to identify what the Joburg citizens want to see.

Do you have any plans of outreach with theatres in other cities across the country?

Yes, we have plans to partner and to tour local productions. We’ve already worked with the Artscape in Cape Town, and Playhouse Theatre in Durban.

What kind of theatre would you like to see more of in Joburg?

I would like to support more South African producers as we have amazing talent in the country. I would love to see more comedy as Joburg citizens love comedy shows.

With regards to projects you have been involved with in the past, what have been some of your favourites?

I’ve always loved working on the pantomimes – the theatre has established a brand with Janice Honeyman, and it’s such a fun project to work on.

Other highlights include: ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ (2006), the highly acclaimed 2010 FIFA World Cup production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton’s ‘The Boys In The Photograph’, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Starlight Express’, and most recently, ‘Sister Act’.

I love dance shows – I’m proud of the Joburg Ballet dancers, Sean Bovim’s dancers, and the international company of ‘Burn The Floor’.

When can we expect the first big announcement during your tenor?

I currently have a few ideas up my sleeve, so hopefully by the middle of next year.

What can you tell us about your outreach vision to cultivate new theatregoers, especially “non-traditional” ones?

My vision is to work closely with the surrounding communities and the youth, which will cultivate into regular theatregoers.