Meet AFDA Cape Town Higher Certificate Co-Ordinator Leopold Senekal

Apr 5, 2023 | Learning Staff, News

The AFDA Cape Town Higher Certificate Course is under the stewardship of Leopold Senekal who joined the AFDA family in 2019. Leopold completed his BDRAM degree at the University of Stellenbosch after which he specialised in Scenic Design and Production Management obtaining his BDram Hons degree. After working as a freelance designer on various local productions Leopold took up a teaching position and was appointed resident designer at the Robert Ludlum Theatre for St. Benedicts Performing Arts College in Derbyshire UK.

During this time Leopold was commissioned by various professional companies to design for a wide range of productions including The Beggars Opera, The Maids, Sweeny Todd, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Anne Frank Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Cinderella in 2004 he was commissioned by the Urban Spaceman Company for their Edinburgh Festival Production of ROAD working with celebrated children’s theatre director Andrew Price.

In 2008 Leopold moved back to South Africa and launched his own Production Design Company – Good Call Production Design House; a vibrant, creative, and dynamic design company specializing in production design, set construction, and execution for Opera, Theatre, Television, and Advertising.

Recent Good Call Theatre projects include production designs for;  Jester Productions’ – Under the Fig Tree, and Second Time Round,  for the SBA – Kap Aan , for The New Space Theatre Cape Town – Disco Nights, and the SA premiere of New Boy, under the direction of Russell Labbey,  for Cape Town Opera –  (Artwork & Set Pieces)  ‘Porgy and Bess’  and  Set and Costume Design for the African premiere of Rossini’s ‘Viaggio a Reims’ under direction of Matthew Wild,  Aesop’s Fables, Broken Glass, Kaptein se Tier and  The Raggered Trousered  Philanthropist for the Fugard Theatre,  for  Theatre BoxTouring production of God of Carnage for  Bovim Ballet Company – Romeo’s Kiss.  Various productions for the Baxter theatre including; Woyzeck, Purgatorio, Did we Dance: The Sinking of the Mendi” and The SA Premiere of It’s Because I’m Jack under the direction of Yvette Hardy. Leopold also worked on various Television Productions as Art Director, including Vallei van Sluiers for Kyk Net, Hilda se Hartsklanke for VIA, and various film productions for the Independent Mzansi Short Film Festival.

Leopold has also been nominated for two Fleur Du Cap Design Awards and won this prestigious design award for both productions of ‘Aesop’s Fables’ and ‘Woyzeck’ in 2010. In the same year he also won the prestigious GIPCA Emerging Directors Award for “Words, Words, Words” by David Ives. Leopold has also won ATKV Gold Award for set design 2014/2015/2016 and 2017 at the annual ATKV Schools Theatre Festival in Johannesburg.

Throughout his varied professional career, Leopold has worn many creative hats within the Television, Film & Theatre industries as Producer, Director, Production Manager, Production Designer, and Art Director. In addition, he’s been responsible for various managerial, educational, and curricular development positions as; lecturer and resident designer for the Robert Ludlum Theatre Derbyshire UK, Provincial Arts Curriculum Advisor for the CURRO Group of Schools, and most recently facilitating the curriculum development, implementation, and mentorship of the Higher Certificate in Performing Arts for AFDA in his capacity of HCPA Coordinator in Cape Town.

Currently, Leopold is completing his Masters (MFA) in Film and Production studies, focusing on in-depth analysis and exploration of the various modes of adaptation and their application in South African Cinema.

In a recent interview, Leopold was asked about the current tertiary education landscape and responded as follows;

“Given how dramatically the Covid-19 pandemic has altered our tertiary educational landscape, I fully understand the increasing need and vital importance of not only adapting to an ever-changing world but also supporting, and building strong and long-lasting reports with students, colleagues, counterparts, peers, and affiliated stakeholders.

Students need to be respected, valued, and appreciated, and as such I believe one of the core and fundamental functions of this position will be to ensure that all our students feel empowered, equipped, and encouraged to achieve the highest academic goals, through delivering a world-class academic program.

I am acutely aware of the extreme inequalities, uncertainties, and adverse challenges within our current national tertiary education system, and the extreme challenges our students face on a daily basis, and as such I am fully committed to AFDA as an Institution to face these challenges head-on, and becoming an active participant in shaping the future of tertiary education in South Africa. Taking inspiration from our greatest statesman “It all seems impossible until it’s done!” (- Nelson Mandela –)

When interviewing Leopold, he also wanted to tell us what his students have been up to this year;

“The HC Performing Arts students started the term… literally beating their own drums… with Master Class Drumming Sessions with Michael Thorn; one of SA’s most prolific traditional drumming coaches, in preparation for their African Dance BPS MVT Module.   During Term 1 the HCPA students also explored the origins of traditional storytelling, narrative structures, and tales, working with the esteemed traditional storyteller and author Thanduxolo Mkoyi who is also the chair of the Western Cape Literacy Association of South Africa. Stories were specifically sourced from his own personal collection as material for their final devised performance pieces. Based on their improvisation and performance practicum, rehearsal notes, and research the Performing Arts students dazzled the audience during their final assessments, through storytelling, song, and dance.

The HC Film stream has blossomed under the coordination of Justin Martin Vallay. Filmmaking is an industry that is an ever-expanding creative hub that is constantly in need of new talent, and Justin seems to have the Midas touch, not only engaging students but also cultivating a hunger for exploring this multifaceted industry of filmmaking.  The HCFTEP course prides itself on the fact that it introduces the various possible avenues to consider a career in the film industry and allows our students to explore these options under the guidance and mentorship of our dedicated teaching staff. During Term 1 our HCFTEP students were introduced to the Camera assist, VTO assists and Data Wrangler assist, through hands-on practicum and assessment. From the incredibly positive student feedback, high submission rates, and excellent results the HC FTEP stream promises to deliver an exceptionally strong cohort of creatives for the 2023 academic year. Watch this space!”

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