I ’m drawn to the title and intrigued by the programme notes, which promise “an adorned story of a life where fiction and reality become more and more intertwined”.
Tom Struyf and Nelle Hens perform in Another Great Year For Fishing at Graeme College, Grahamstown, 11 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The play was produced in association with The Flemish-Dutch House Deburen. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.
The central question of Another Great Year of Fishing is “how to leave a normal life in an ever-changing society where a great deal of adopted power is constantly required”. The main character has always tried to do everything as well as he possibly can, but his girlfriend breaks up with him. And he suddenly gets the feeling that we’re all forgetting something. A few things then happen and he finds himself in a dirty toilet. Someone has written on the wall, “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” He does.
On a rear-projection screen we see a series of interviews with a psychiatrist, an anthropologist who spent time with the Maasai, a spin doctor, and a few others. The psychiatrist complains that he is accused of not being efficient enough. But it’s not his fault, he laments, society causes all these problems. He makes an impassioned plea for us to be satisfied with being normal. We should stop being obsessed with being happy.
The spin doctor says that something has not happened if people don’t know it has. The best way of finding out who you are, the anthropologist says, is to get together with someone who is different to you.
On the stage, the dancer is telling the main character what to do, then leans against him for a long time, in slowly changing postures. He is sweating a lot and telling a story about meeting a kind old black man who changes his tyre, somewhere, on a bad dirt road in South Africa. To cut a long story short, this is one of the most authentic experiences he’s ever had.
A large man sitting next to me bounces his legs, shaking the entire row of tiered seating. On the other side, a couple creep out noisily. I might have done that last year but these issues are less worrying to me now, so I stay. On the plane back home, the main character sees a dead fly between the sheets of glass in the window. Isn’t it strange that the fly is dead, he laughs, and yet it keeps on flying. If you are still reading, go see the play. It has nothing to do with fishing, on one level.
Cue specialist writer
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