Director and writer Lara Foot has no limits. Renowned for her hard-hitting work that steps into some of the darker parts of society, she unleashed Karoo Moose on the Festival.
The multi award-winning piece tackles the disintegration of the family unit and the violation of innocence endured by so many South African children.
“If we engage in the darkness of how we live, then we have access to the light,” said Foot. “There are no boundaries in what I explore.”
Her fresh demeanour belies the brooding intensity of her inner workings. Foot deals with the horrors that make this country what it is. She’s bold enough to delve into the terrors of South African society that most can’t (or don’t want to) visualise and articulate. At points, her own actors turn their gaze away from the tragedies depicted on stage.
Clever metaphors come to life
While her works never display gruesome violence on stage, her artistic skills in creating clever metaphors do. “I show a group of boys kicking a soccer ball,” she explained, referring to a scene in the play when a young girl is raped.
It’s difficult to imagine the grey-eyed, softly spoken woman envisioning such shocking imagery. Her pieces are fantasy, yet absolutely real. Performed in English with isiXhosa, the play creates a series of moments in the life of a remote and impoverished small village in the Karoo. The story focuses on Thozama, an inhabitant of the village who is struggling to survive, overcoming the limitations placed on her freedom by patriarchal oppression on the one hand and the legacy of apartheid on the other.
“The themes of the story were bound up in the idea that the children in the village needed some kind of magical event to free them from abuse, neglect and poverty. Something magical was needed to break the cycle of violence.”
Foot is an integral part of South African theatre, having developed more than 35 new South African plays. The protégée of renowned English theatre and film director Sir Peter Hall, she is recognised internationally for her hard-hitting work that demonstrates a belief in the possibility of redemption. Karoo Moose is no exception.
Foot credits her amazing ensemble of six committed and caring actors for the success of Karoo Moose. The dynamic cast includes Zoleka Helesi and Mdu Kweyama (last seen in Onnest’Bo), both performing multiple roles.
Since its world premiere in September 2007, Karoo Moose has already scooped 14 top South African awards, including the Aardvark award for the most innovative work.
Foot’s passion for African storytelling developed in the late eighties while studying at the University of Witwatersrand. Committed to developing South African theatre, she will share her experience with directors at home. Next year Foot will become the first female artistic director to lead the Baxter Theatre Centre when she takes over from Mannie Manim.
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