The most striking thing about Jade Bowers is that, despite her wildly successful career and multiple awards, she is the most humble person you will ever meet. Recently it was announced that the talented young director’s stage play, Scorched, is nominated for 7 Naledi Theatre Awards which include Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor and Best Lighting Design. Jade herself was nominated for Best Director, Best Producer and Best Costume Design.
Scorched, which opened to sold out crowds, tells the story of twins, Janine and Simon Marwan, as they journey to the heart of their mother’s war-torn Middle-Eastern homeland in pursuit of their tangled roots and a long-lost sibling. In this land, where civil war, massacre and revenge constitute a way of life, the twins uncover shocking secrets about their mother’s history, about themselves and their origins.
Scorched received a standing ovation in its opening night and has been described by critics as an epic, impeccably directed, heartbreaking, sensitively crafted piece of theatre history with a shocking climax that will move you to tears more than once. The role of the mother is played by the award winning actress, Ilse Klink, who has been nominated for Best Actress.
Who is Jade Bowers?
In addition to the Naledi nominations, the young Cape Tonian has a repertoire of top theatre awards that can only be described as impressive for someone her age. In 2013, she won the 2013 Naledi award for Best Sound Design and in 2014, she won the Arts & Culture Trust Impact Award as well as the Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award for ‘What the Water Gave Me’. She received the Creative Conference pitch perfect Award in 2015, and the Standard Bank Ovation award for the play Tin Bucket Drum. In 2016, her talent as a formidable young theatre director was given further recognition when she was awarded the highly coveted Standard Bank Young artist for Theatre accolade. She was named one of AfriPOP’s Top Five Female Theatre Makers in South Africa.
Jade’s road to critically acclaimed success started in Primary School when her mother, a theatre lover, took her to see Kat and the Kings, which is still one of her favourite musicals. Her love for theatre grew from there and she decided in High School that she wanted to direct and produce. After completing High School, she completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Drama and Sociology from the University of Cape Town, and then went on to complete an Honours degree in Theatre Design and Directing from the University of the Witwatersrand. She has worked as a production manager, stage manager, festival director, and designer.
Jade’s formidable drive led her to start her own production company, Jade Bowers Design & Management. The company specializes in producing, managing and directing plays for the theatre. Jade is also currently the Arts & Culture Production Liaison at the University of Johannesburg Theatre.
She gets a lump in her throat when she speaks about how her family helped her during the tough times and applauded during the good. Like many successful artists, she started out with nothing. She had no money for her first few plays and she had to do rehearsals in her lounge. However, she had a supportive family which included her husband, Darren Chamberlain. At the time, her team was (and still is) her family. Her father and husband helped her build the sets and her mother helped with sewing the costumes. Her ‘team’ also includes little Mackenzie Bowers-Chamberlain, whom she almost gave birth to whilst rehearsing in 2015.
Jade’s critically acclaimed plays have been described as bold, innovative, brave, challenging, thought provoking and meticulously crafted. She is described by her peers as a humble, caring, down to earth person with a quirky sense of humour. She has been lauded as a formidable talent who does not settle for mediocrity. It is by no means an exaggeration to state that we might be witnessing the rise of one the greatest talents this country has ever seen.
Are you interested in watching Scorched? If you’re in the KZN area from 10 to 13 August, Scorched will be shown at the South African Women’s Arts Festival in the Playhouse Drama Theatre. Jade will also be directing the play, Black, which will be shown at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival from 29 June until 9 July.