Chair/Host – Rucera Seethal
Artistic Director, National Arts Festival, South Africa
Rucera Seethal is artistic director of the multi-disciplinary National Arts Festival based in Makhanda, South Africa since January 2020. Previously programme manager at the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, responsible for the performing arts portfolio across Switzerland and the Southern African region, she was also art director and production manager at Chimurenga, the award-winning arts, culture and politics magazine, between 2004 to 2011. She sat on the Theatre Spektakle Zurich Jury for the 2015 edition, as well as being part of several local grant selection committees over recent years.
Prof Mike Bruton
Mike Bruton Imagineering’
Professor Mike Bruton was born and educated in South Africa, where he obtained his PhD degree from Rhodes University.
Mike initially followed a career in marine biology but, over the past two decades, has focused on science centre and museum design and development, the psychology of learning, and the history of Islamic science.
‘Mike Bruton Imagineering’ is a new chapter in Professor Bruton’s career where he plans to use all the knowledge he has gained over his extensive career to guide and provide services in the fields of authorship, science centre development, aquatic research management, Imagineering as well as to inspire with informative talks on science, technology and the environment.
Writer / Solo Performer; HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr
Heather Massie is a New York City actor and writer. Originally from Virginia, Ms. Massie has always been fascinated by the sciences, especially Astronomy. She studied Astrophysics at the University of Virginia, and Theatre Arts at The Virginia Tech School of the Arts graduating Summa Cum Laude. Ms. Massie has performed extensively in NYC and throughout the US. She currently tours around the world, with her 14x Award-Winning, Internationally-Acclaimed solo show HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. In 2019 she served as a Fulbright Specialist with the show to South Africa through the US Department of State, World Learning, and the US Embassy South Africa. This is the first in her planned trilogy of solo shows celebrating women in science, the next will be Flying with Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space.
Dr Gcina Mhlophe
Executive Director, GCINAMASIKO ARTS & HERITAGE TRUST
Gcina Mhlophe is an author, poet, playwright, director, performer and storyteller. Influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child, Mhlophe’s written and performance talent has transported her from South Africa to South and North America to Europe, Greenland and Japan. She has performed her stories in theatres like Royal Albert Hall, the Kennedy Centre in the US and collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a children’s CD. She again worked with Ladysmith Black Mamabazo and Francis Bebey quartet in a unique production, Africa at the Opera, which toured Opera houses in Germany. She is also one of the 21 ICONS in 2015 with the likes of Lillian Cingo, Bishop Tutu, Nadine Gordimer and Tata Mandela.
She has released several CDs as part of her work promoting indigenous languages, oral traditions and literacy. She has written over 18 books which have been translated into all South African languages as well as Italian, Swahili, Japanese, German and French. She has received seven honorary doctorates from the likes of London Open University (UK); University of KwaZulu – Natal; Pretoria University and Fort Hare, for a body of work that has contributed to Literature and helping to preserve the Heritage of African storytelling. Dr Mhlophe has also received several Lifetime Achievement awards for this work amongst many others.
Dr. Mhlophe has worked tirelessly since 2001 running NOZINCWADI Mother of Books Literacy Campaign to help make South Africa a Reading Nation. The Nozincwadi: Mother of Books, is available as a book which is accompanied by a CD that formed the joyful soundtrack of the roadshow.
She founded the GCINAMASIKO ARTS & HERITAGE TRUST in 2012, in efforts to preserve the dignity and wealth of our indigenous cultural heritage in South Africa. She continues to lead the organization as its Executive Director.
Manager, The South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA)
Shadrack Mkansi is a Science Awareness Platforms manager at SAASTA. A former Maths and Computer Science Educator and part-time lecturer at UNISA. Worked at the Giyani Science Centre and now manages science centre support projects at SAASTA. Shadrack also manages the National Science Week of the DSI and the National Science Festivals support, also by DSI. Shadrack is a contributor to the Science Communication: A global perspective book and has managed two international projects, NUCLEUS and RRING. The implementation of projects within SAASTA has taught me to work within a policy environment as an implementer of government policy and aligning projects to governmental needs.