Greenbusters, a toystore with a difference

The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, wrote: “Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.”


Modern predictors of children who will go on to become successful adults  include three things – first, being read to often, second, being encouraged to play imaginative games with simple toys, and, third, being allowed to develop physically, imaginatively and emotionally in outdoor games with other children.

“Play is the work of the child.” says Maria Montessori of the famous education institutions. She is far from the only education expert who points this out.  Fred Rogers says:  “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

It is instinctive for children to play, whether they play with mud pies or disposable containers filled with water.  Most children of my generation, and I grew up in the sixties, learned to play, or at least games, from other children.  We played in the parks, the streets, and one another’s homes.  Today’s children have a far less haphazard exposure to other children and they may need to be guided into games.  My sister had to get involved and teach her children to play “Pretend, pretend” or “Chaff, chaff” as we knew it back then.  “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There is no right or wrong way to play and no right or wrong toys to buy for any particular child.  However, the so-called experts all agree that too many cheap and too many electronic toys are not a good idea for the development of young bodies, minds and skills.

That’s where the shop “Greenbusters” comes into its own.  Twenty years ago, one woman with a passion for toys with a difference, Barbara Kuehnemann, opened a shop in Greenside selling the quality toys of her childhood.  That shop is now celebrating its 20th birthday on 20 February 2018.  There are now three branches – the original Greenside branch, a branch in Nicholway, and a branch in Melrose Arch.

Fewer, better quality toys, ones designed along classic lines and purchased when age appropriate are behind the “less is more” thinking of providing one’s children with the finest opportunities to play.

The toys sold at Greenbusters are made to the highest possible safety standards, using natural and non-toxic materials and classic and innovative designs.  The toys are superb quality and excellent value for money.

All three Greenbusters stores will be celebrating the birthday of this toy store with a difference from Tuesday 20th February 2018 to Sunday 25th February 2018 with a 20% discount for all sales over R200.

Kuehnemann, the owner of Greenbusters, is currently not in South Africa, because she is German and is sourcing toys from European toy fairs, but her Italian store manager, Claudia Dallabona, will be at one or other of those three stores during the sale time.  Each person working in the store is chosen for her knowledge of age appropriate toys and her passion for non-technological play.

Dallabona points out that the toys are not expensive when one considers that one is buying for all the children in the family, including the grandchildren and even great grandchildren who will play with them, giving an example of her own childhood wooden trains, which have survived both her play and that of her young daughter, and are still good for another generation or two.

Of course, the joys of playing with toys are often not restricted to children.  “The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” says Erik H. Erikson, so buy yourself some toys and let your children share them.


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Degrees of comparison

The Lady of the Camellias: Showing at Cinema Nouveau from 03 February 2018.

I previewed this.  The first act is good.  The second act is better.  The third act is best.  And they are all sublime.

Joburg Ballet audiences recognise this ballet as La Traviata, to the Verdi music.  The storyline is the same, but the score and everything else is completely different.

Camellias 3

The advertising blurb says: “Alexandre Dumas’ novel comes to life on the Bolshoi stage, with prima Svetlana Zakharova as the ailing Marguerite seeking love and redemption from her life as a courtesan. The Bolshoi brings choreographer John Neumeier’s work of rare beauty and tragic depth to new emotional heights, accompanied by Chopin’s romantic piano score. As he arrives in Paris for the first time, the young and naive Armand is utterly captivated after meeting the ravishing and most desirable courtesan, Marguerite Gautier. Their encounter gives birth to a passionate, yet doomed love…”

Camellias 1

The magnificent costumes, the dance, the interpretations of the other couples (you need to catch the explanations to understand this), the minimalist sets and the superb acting all join forces with exquisite dancing for a wonderful afternoon or evening at the ballet.  It is long at over three hours but worth every minute of it.

There is one moment in the ballet (at the beginning of the third act) where my eyes filled with tears.  It is heartbreakingly beautiful. Great artistry.

What a glorious experience.  Only live can be better.

The 2017-2018 Bolshoi Ballet season will screen at the following Ster-Kinekor Nouveau theatres ONLY:

  1. Cinema Nouveau Rosebank
  2. Cinema Nouveau Brooklyn
  3. Cinema Nouveau Gateway Commercial
  4. Cinema Nouveau V & A Waterfront


For more information and to make bookings to watch any of the upcoming Ballet productions, visit the website at or download the SK App. You can also book at the box office. For news and updates, go to Facebook page: Ster-Kinekor Theatres and follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter: @sterkinekor. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).

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Welcome Miss Universe home

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters arrives back in South Africa this week for the first time since being crowned Miss Universe.


Miss Universe, Demi Leigh Nel Peters

The public is urged to bring posters, banners, South African flags and vuvuzelas to give her a proudly South African welcome at OR Tambo International Airport, International Arrivals terminal, on Wednesday (January 24) at 07h45.

She will be met by the Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa and Susan Shabangu, Minister of Women in the Presidency. Also welcoming her home will be her parents – Bennie and Elzabé Peters and Anne-Mari and Johan Steenkamp – joined by representatives from Cell C and Sun International on behalf of the Miss South Africa Organisation. There will also be performances by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters is the first Miss Universe to come out of South Africa since 1978, and the very first in the democratic dispensation and she deserves a rousing welcome from all South Africans.

The Miss Universe Organisation organisers, in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, Department of Women, Sun International, Cell C, Lead South Africa, Airports Company South Africa, OR Tambo International Airport, Airlink and Nissan invite the public to be a part of this historical moment, and call on the media to rally members of the public to ensure a deserved heroines’ welcome for Nel-Peters.

“Let us celebrate this great victory for our nation. Nel-Peters, a graduate in business management, has hoisted the South African flag high and undoubtedly she will keep on representing the country well and add a voice to the emancipation of women at home and across the globe,” said Minister Shabangu.

About the Miss Universe Organisation

The Miss Universe Organisation (MUO) is a global community that empowers women to realise their goals through experiences that build self-confidence and create opportunities for success.  MUO believes that every woman should be “Confidently Beautiful”. The MISS UNIVERSE®, MISS USA®, and MISS TEEN USA® programmes provide the 10,000 women who participate annually with an international platform to affect positive change through influential humanitarian and professional efforts. The contestants and titleholders are leaders and role models in their communities, develop personal and professional goals, and inspire others to do the same. The Miss Universe Organisation is an Endeavor company. To learn more, visit

Social media links:


Issued by Ninesquared Communications and Events on behalf of Sun International and Cell C. For more information, please contact Stephanie Weil at on 084 999 8181

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Mozart Festival treats for 2018

As Bruce Dennill points out in his review, the annual Viennese New Year Concerts always mark the start of the classical music programme for Johannesburg. (Well, Theatre on the Square’s Friday lunchtime concerts started on Friday as well).

These light classical music concerts featuring the JFO, Joburg Ballet and selected soloists are tremendously popular and two houses at the Linder Auditorium are a;ways respectably full, if not actually sold out.  The concerts are fun and accessible.  They are officially the forerunners of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.  I love them.

The nature of the programme for JIMF is now established and there are no surprises this year.  One knows what to expect.  The same concerts that were oversubscribed in 2017 will be oversubscribed in 2018.  Book early to avoid disappointment.  Computicket and the JIMF office 011 447 9264.

The festival theme is Papageno/Papagena and opposites will be explored in this year’s programming.

On Friday 26th there will be a piano recital at Northwards featuring festival artistic director Florian Uhlig and Olga Scheps.

Mozart’s birth anniversary falls on a Saturday this year and there is a busy programme for this day, 27 January.  At 15:00 there is a new music collaboration programme at the Goethe Institute.  At 18:00 there is a movie about Lina Amato Kantor’s escape from the Holocaust due to a righteous Turk in Malta. (It is also Holocaust Rememberance Day). This movie screening is free but booking is essential because seating is limited.  This will be followed by the opening concert at the Linder Auditorium.

The very popular Orchestra from Scratch rehearses and plays on Sunday 28 January 2018 at the Scott Gym, Wits Education Campus.  The concert is at 15:00.  This is followed by a concert at Northwards featuring the Bloemfontein based Odeion String Quartet with Florian Uhlig on piano (additional to the string quartet which doesn’t have a piano as part of it).

On Monday 29 January there is another concert at Northwards House, this time featuring Jolente de Maeyer on violin and Nikolaas Kende on piano.

On Tuesday 30 January the Italian piano duo of Michelle Benignetti and Eleanora Spina will play at St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church in Parkview. On that same night the jazz improvisation to a silent movie will take place at The Bioscope.  This improvisation is always a highlight of the festival for me.

On Wednesday 31st there is another concert at St Francis of Assissi.  This will feature Paul Hanmer’s Mass for the First Peoples.  Faure’s Requiem will follow.  Difficult decision making comes into play here because at Northwards House on the same evening the Charl du Plessis Trio will be performing.

On 1 February there is a clarinet recital at Northwards with Michel Lethiec on clarinet and Florian Uhlig on piano.

On 2 February at 14:00 the annual Conduct the Orchestra workshop takes place.  This is free but pre-booking is essential because space is limited.  The Deutsche Schule is hosting a child-friendly version of The Magic Flute at 19:00.  It is also the evening of the ever popular Vocal Masterclass Finals at Northwards House.

On Saturday 3 February Buskaid is performing at the Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein at 16:00.  The Johannesburg Musical Society joins JIMF with Russian pianist Musa Rubackyte on piano.  Seriously consider getting a season ticket for the whole year to the Johannesburg Musical Society recitals.

Musa Rubackyte

Musa Rubackyte from Russia will play a concert for JIMF and JMS.

The JIMF programme concludes with a children’s concert on 4 February at 11:00 at the Linder Auditorium and the official closing concert at 15:00.



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Beatlemania on Tour

Context is everything. I hated (and still hate) the tribute shows at Joburg Theatre.  Take that same show, however, to the casinos, in this case Emperors Palace, and one has a wonderful, winning work.  The fun, fluffy production is in keeping with its setting  of entertainment and dreams.

The tribute band is Australian, with Ben Harper as Pete Best and Ringo Starr.  Cameron Charters is Paul McCartney, Brent McMullen is George Harrison and Zac Coombs is John Lennon.

The staging is simple – just the microphones, drum kit and a large LED screen onto which projections are made. Costuming is done well with wigs and appropriate outfits.

Beatlemania 1.jpg

The script and acting is a wee bit on the cheesy side, but it is the recreation of the music which should please fans.  Bearing in mind that it is not the Beatles and there were one or two distinctly flat notes , it was still done very well on the whole and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The audience danced along and were enthusiastic participants from the outset, singing and clapping along happily.  The screaming fans needed a bit more encouragement to scream.

Nostalgia reigned for the most part as the biopic unfolded.  It never explored the reasons for the breakup of the band, nor even the breakup itself, contenting itself to a timeline of the Beatles music.

Beatlemania 2.jpg

The show commences at 20:00 for those of you used to later starts at Emperors Palace.  There are plenty of places to have supper before the show – we ate at Rosetta’s a la carte section and found our meal there to be pleasant and the service good.

Suitable for all ages, Beatlemania on Tour is good entertainment, especially for Beatles fans.  It is running at Emperors Palace.


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A sweet and savoury offering

Another One’s Bread is now running at the Market Theatre.

As are all Mike van Graan’s plays, this is a complex work with a treasury of social commentary.

Another ones bread 1

The play takes its title (Another One’s Bread) from the Afrikaans expression “een man se dood is ‘n ander man se brood” (One person’s death is another person’s bread). “Like every other theme in South Africa, hunger intersects with a range of other issues – gender, class, apartheid’s spatial geographies, education and corporatisation of services to name but a few,” explains van Graan.

Directed by Pamela Nomvete, it unpacks several aspects of South African life as set in a black township, Khayelitsha, in Cape Town.  The interaction of the cast with the audience in the process of the latter being seated is one of those theatrical devices designed to make the audience part of the play, drawing us in through the fourth wall.  It is subtly done and is non-threatening even for those of us sitting in the front.

It is a “dark comedy” as billed and there are some wickedly amusing moments in the play.  It also tenderly unpacks one of the most remarkable aspects of South African community … the informal, non-governmental funded feeding schemes that operate all over, usually run by one or more women living in the poorest communities.  The work was commissioned by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

Another ones bread

Funeral rites are serious business in every sense of the word, and Van Graan manages to draw attention to the ridiculous nature of some of the customs around them without ever being disrespectful.

Another ones bread 2

The superb ensemble portrays four distinct women as “The Substitutes” – professional mourners – ranging from a young ex-con, Brenda, (Awethu Hleli) who never matriculated to a retired school teacher, Pumla, with diabetes and a food garden (Faniswa Yisa).  A writer, Karabo, (Chuma Sopotela) and an estate agent, Andiswa, (Motlatji Ditodi) make up the other two characters.  I would call these women “strong women”, but the truth is that they are simply women like so many other women in similar situations.  They are strong, but no stronger than millions of real life women.  It is all very plausible.

Another ones bread 3

I was not charmed by the costuming of Brenda, the young girl.  I found it disruptive and lumpy.  While it certainly showed the difference between Brenda and the rest, I thought it excluded her too much.  A black leotard may have been a better choice.  The set and costumes were by Nthabiseng Makone.  The other costumes were excellent, simple and effective.

The work is very different to what I was expecting and I was both charmed and amused.  One leaves the theatre feeling good about life in general.  Highly recommended.

Choreography is by Jackie Manyaapelo and it gave us some wonderful visual humour. Lighting is by Nomvula Molepo.

Another One’s Bread will run in the Mannie Manim Theatre at the Market Theatre from 10 January to 4 February 2018.

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Win a Wine Course

Win a wine course courtesy of The Private Hotel School

The Private Hotel School – regarded as one of the country’s most sought-after hotel schools – is offering the chance to win a full-day wine course at its campuses in Stellenbosch and its new school in Johannesburg.

The masterclasses take place on Saturday, February 17, in Stellenbosch and Saturday, March 24, in Rosebank, Johannesburg with those attending getting the opportunity to learn all they need to know for their next wine tasting excursion.

Valued at R3000, the programme features an introduction to wine growing and making; wine styles, storage and service; a tutored wine tasting (taste sensations as well as a cause and effect tasting) and a lesson on champagne, sparkling wine and how to sabrage (a technique for opening a bubbly bottle with a sword or blade).

The day includes a three-course food and wine pairing for lunch and each participant will receive a course manual, wine bag with wine, four tasting glasses in a carry bag and a recipe book to take home with them. Certificates will also be awarded.

To enter, visit the Private Hotel School webpage and click on the competition link.


The Private Hotel School, with its skilled team of professionals, teaching nationally and internationally accredited courses, is one of the more sought-after hotel schools in South Africa offering a career in the world of hospitality. Its curriculum combines innovative and leading-edge hospitality instruction with sound practical training and knowledge of the hospitality industry. This allows it to provide tomorrow’s hospitality industry leaders with the hands-on training, educational and cultural awareness skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. At the same time the institution also aims to foster international goodwill and friendship. Students are trained to master professional skills and obtain high levels of the specialised knowledge needed to excel in the hospitality environment. Its qualifications are accredited by AHA-IHMS, thus allowing students to complete their optional third year in the US.

The Higher Education Act (Act No 10 of 1997) and the regulations for registration of Private Higher Education Institutions, make it compulsory for private institutions offering full qualifications in higher education to register with the Department of Higher Education and Training. By complying with the requirements of The Higher Education Act, TPHS ensures that all programmes on offer are of quality and aligned with national and international standards.

Site approval for the Rosebank Campus to be confirmed during 2018.

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