Category: Cabaret

Fiona Ramsay and Tony Bentel perform in The Old and the Beautiful on 8 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival.  Songs and spoken word giving a delicate and gritty reflection on the fabric that makes us human and vulnerable.  (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfield)

Any show that offers Old Brown Sherry upon entrance is already good in my books.

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Didu du Preez, Taniia Strauss and Li Parker sing in the show Lullaby at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Monday 07July 2014. The show is written and directed by Allan Glogauer and showcases various lullabies and the connections formed through these songs. (Photo: CUEPIX/Michelle Cunliffe)

Lullabies are simple, soothing, sweet melodies that put babies to sleep, right? Not when they are performed by three moms from Wilderness in the show “Lullaby”.

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Choreographer, teacher and dancer, Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance Fana Tshabalala’s engagement with cleansing ceremonies led him to explore the possibilities in which rites of passage can create new beginnings and purify minds and bodies from the negativities that haunt us. His new work titled Indumba – a hut used as a place for cleansing rituals in most African countries – aims to create a space within which bodies will follow the inner voice that is constantly guiding and feeding them on what to do; despite often choosing not to listen and ending up with regrets. In this space there’s no right or wrong but every moment is appreciated for what it is and what it can be…

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Every show attracts its own audience. However, on the journey to finding what works and what doesn’t, there is bound to be the odd performance that leaves audiences uneasy.

There are, of course, shows that go out of their way to generate this feeling of discomfort.

The Evening Service is one that potentially runs the risk of garnering negative criticism. “Without having seen the show I’m assuming, having looked at the flyer, that they’re trying to parody homophobia, racism and religious fundamentalism,” said Michelle Solomon, a Masters student in Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.

“By using this kind of mechanism, they run a risk of compounding discrimination rather than showing what it really is. It’s like making rape jokes – you never know who is listening,” she said.

“Doctor Brother Superior” Pat Schulmann, who plays a Brother from the Holy Temple of Hashlah in The Evening Service, said that they are simply saying things that people are already thinking about.

Clora, which opened on Thursday evening at the Albany Cabaret Club, left Sarah Cohen, who watched it with a friend, feeling slighted.

“The storyline wasn’t bad; I understood it and it was good. I just found the performance attacking,” Cohen said. “I definitely say the show is not for those who don’t appreciate vulgar and crude behaviour
on stage.”

“I think Clora is blatantly offensive – it’s in the spirit of the performance,” said Ashraf Johaardien, who portrays Ms Rachel Tension – a drag queen – in the performance, which is a combination of cabaret and stand-up comedy.

So far, only one show has been reported to the Festival complaints board.

“We had one – The First Grader – incorrectly advertised as ‘all ages’; but it contained scenes of violence,” said Kate Axe Davies, who is a Festival manager. “Different people have different sensitivities,” Axe Davies said. “We are going to get complaints; what I think is artistic, someone else might be sensitive about.”

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