FrontPage Take a trip with physical theatre

Take a trip with physical theatre

You’ve touched down in Grahamstown, the Festival has just kicked off, and you have no idea what to see. Not exactly drama, but not quite dance either, this year’s lineup of physical theatre performances would be a good place to start.

Ashley Searle, a lead actor and dancer in Another Day, a new-age love story. Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile

Ashley Searle, a lead actor and dancer in Another Day, a new-age love story. Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile

The Eastern Cape may have lost Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company, but First Physical Theatre Company still stands strong and leaps onto stage this year with two shows, Waltz and Inqindi. Both shows investigate the position of the black South African reclaiming space in contemporary society.
Hanamichi and Piet se Optelgoed are back this year and lay the ground for strong narrative pieces accentuated by detailed, elaborate set designs. Rob Murray, director of Piet se Optelgoed, also directs a new physical theatre work, Waterline, which uses detailed, evocative mask work. Murray explains how the genre can provide the perfect entry point to first-time theatre goers. “Physical theatre is very often a work that is built from the ground up, devised with the cast and the directors, so it’s free of any hierarchy which is what gives the genre a lot of its motion and fluidity,” explains Murray.
Simona Mazza is one director offering you a chance to see what you can take from her macabrely humorous tale, Actress and Girl, which looks at two strangers stranded on the side of the road, contemplating their comically tragic position. And Ester van der Walt’s Transparent pokes fun at itself by looking at notions of authorship and authenticity in theatrical dance.

“It’s also a physical work for the audience in a sense, because we ask you to come on a drive with us, read into what you watch, and put your own story and your own words to what you see.”

Tara Notcutt and the team who brought you Mafikeng Road are back with another Herman Charles Bosman-inspired story entitled After Dark in the Groot Marico, and Toni Morkel’s fantasy world of Father, Father, Father! follows three sisters in a basement awaiting the return of – you guessed it – their father.
Laying the groundwork for compelling narratives and fictional worlds that invite the audience to take away as much as they put in, this year’s physical theatre lineup is a great place to start your journey into Festival theatre.


Dave Mann

Cue Reporter

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