DSG and St Andrew's College celebrate John Axe Arts Week

OCTOBER 3, 2016

The Annual Arts Week held at St Andrew’s College and DSG, subtitled MADD-ness, and arrived with a vengeance! The programme was choc-a-bloc full Music, Art, Dance and Drama.

John Axe taught at St Andrew’s College for 34 years, from 1963 to 1996. He was a legendary English teacher and wrote plays for SABC Radio, and was also a published poet.

He was Housemaster of Mullins House for 12 years from 1973 to 1984. He was the Master-in-Charge of Hockey, Fives and Drama during his time at College.

While Mr Antony Clark was the 16th Headmaster, John Axe was his Second Master for four years, from 1993 to 1996, when he retired. As Second Master, John Axe was also Chairman of the CEMA Committee, a committee that he helped to found in 1986.

It has only been for the past 30 years of the school’s 161 years, that Cultural and Extramural and Service contributions by boys have been recognised, and this is thanks to visionary men like John Axe, Bob Sutherland and Chris Terry.

John Axe put on, literally, dozens of plays during his time at College. He was an expert on Shakespeare, and the whole city used to come to Centenary Hall to watch his productions. Mr Molony, who was an accomplished actor during his Post-Matric year at College, will be able to tell you some interesting stories about Mr Axe, I am sure!

He, together with the 15th Headmaster, Arthur Cotton, started the Quiet Period, which was sacred time for boys to pursue creative hobbies or read or just reflect on their day.

John Axe sadly died of a heart attack in 1999 while standing in a queue to see a show at the Arts Festival.


It all began with a packed Monument Theatre on Friday night. The audience were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of dancing! With various subtitles such as Mother Earth or Germination or Materialism/Consumerism or Ego vs Eco it was clear that the dancers were exploring the theme of the impact on our planet by humanity. Some of the dances were accompanied by live musicians such as the Chapel Choir, String Ensemble, Drumline and a Jazz singer plus trio, while most were performed to recorded music. The quality of dancing was exceptional and covered the whole spectrum of styles from classical ballet through to avant garde modern. It was a real tour de force for Kuschi Openshaw and her dance captain Gemma Kroon. The complete shooting match was repeated the next night (Saturday) again to another full house!



On Sunday evening, the Wind Orchestra presented a short but innovative concert of theme music from various films. There was music from a documentary about Shakers, Star Wars, Skyfall, Mission Impossible and Despicable Me. While the orchestra played, scenes from the films were projected onto the wall at the back of the stage. An added “decoration” was the addition of Alex Duckworth’s voice to the James Bond song. It was a thrilling concert presented to a standing-room-only audience. In fact the auditorium was so full that many music lovers stood outside and listened. Congratulations must go to the leaders, Liz Atkinson and Zak Schlebusch.


On Monday evening the boys of St Andrew’s College once again took to The Centenary Hall stage to astound their peers, staff and members of the public with yet another dazzling and intense Inter-house Music Competition. This event, organised by Mr Pretorius, is one of the biggest local attractions during the annual John Axe Arts Week. The hard work and many hours of dedicated rehearsals by the musicians of the six houses were in many cases as impressive as always.

The competition was fierce and the judges had a hard time choosing a winner in a programme of vast variety and musical styles. Apart from some stylish arrangements by Zuko Yaka from Merriman House and some excellent singing by Zadok Makani from Upper, it was Francis Christie and his Armstrong musicians that blew the judges away!

In the end Armstrong House was triumphant in their efforts and was awarded 1st place with Merriman House in 2nd and Upper House in 3rd place.


At 1.30pm on Tuesday the Jazz and Pop musicians took to the stage in the DR Wynne Auditorium. First up was the very groovy Jazz Ensemble which impressed everybody with their sophisticated harmonies and tight ensemble playing. Probably the most interesting piece was a terminally-funky rendition of an original composition by their bandmaster, Mr Van Heerden, entitled Won by Gun. They were followed by the very stylish Contemporary Band, run by Mr Ellis, who presented a beautiful Red Hot Chilli Peppers tune followed by an excellent rendition of the great Led Zeppelin classic Stairway to Heaven. What was particularly impressive was the historically accurate guitar solo played


On Wednesday evening at 7pm in the Drill hall the Choirs of DSG and St Andrew’s College presented “Heal the World”, a colourful performance of modern popular music with live band accompaniment and interspersed with English and Afrikaans poetry read by students from the language departments. Songs such as Circle of Life (Elton John) and Heal the World (Michael Jackson) plus readings such Die Dans van die Reën (Eugene Marais) and Making Peace (Denise Levertov) combined very effectively to create and understanding of the theme. Everybody had great fun and a pumped up audience added to the wonderful atmosphere of the performance. The Choral Director, Mr Heynsen, was delighted by the enthusiastic audience participation in the final number We are the World by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson. Cobwebs were blown from the rafters of the Drill Hall!


Somnambulant pupils returning from class on Thursday morning at break time, were woken up and given a bounce to their step by the excellent Ghoema performed by the Senior String Ensemble. A Ghoema is a traditional Cape Town dance which mixes together influences from many South African cultures, so it was an appropriate choice so near to Heritage Day. Some of the performers (and audience) were dressed in traditional costumes and together with some excellent hand drumming, they achieved the festival atmosphere that Ms Rennie was looking for.