Classical From Cape Flats to C-Sharps

From Cape Flats to C-Sharps

Classical piano is localised with the injection of some Cape Flats spirit in Jeremy Quickfall’s My Grand (Ma se) Piano.Quickfall has been entertaining South African audiences over the past 12 years in numerous productions as a pianist, singer and musical director. However, this year’s Festival has seen his debut as a soloist and he has “never received so much affirmation before”.

“People have been suggesting that I do a solo show for years and it has taken me five years to feel brave enough to do it,” he says. Bringing his solo show to Grahamstown was a massive emotional and financial gamble for Quickfall. He racked up mounds of debt and underwent months of stress and uncertainty in the build-up to the show. “The response has been so positive that none of that matters anymore,” he says.

“This production has been so stressful because I am alone; there is nobody else on that stage that can save me.” Quickfall says he drew on the guidance of director Paul Griffiths and a choreographer in producing this semi-autobiographical narrative in which he reflects on his journey as a performer.

The title of the production hints towards its autobiographical content. “I am a singer and a performer, but first and foremost I am a pianist,” he says. The show was originally titled My Grand Piano but Quickfall was concerned that this would draw the wrong kind of audience. He decided to include “ma se” to imply that this is not a traditional classical piano concert and that elements from the Cape Flats, such as the specific dialect of Afrikaans, are included. “The story is told by a Cape Flats boy, but not in the stereotypical Cape Flats way,” he says.

My Grand (ma se) Piano is instead the story of a Cape Flats boy told through musical theatre featuring Quickfall’s piano talents, five costume changes and his “attempt at dancing”. “I have rhythm, I just can’t move,” he jokes. This is Quickfall’s first year at the Festival and upon his arrival he walked down to the local Computicket to check his ticket sales. “I was expecting to play to an empty house on the first night and when the salesperson told me that I had sold 80 tickets, I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” he says.

Despite Quickfall’s initial fears, My Grand (Ma Se) Piano has been drawing large audiences throughout its run and has been one of this year’s Fringe success stories.

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