Category: Theatre

“We are inspired by human behaviour. It’s about you guys,” say the Dutch performers, pointing at their small but enthusiastic audience. The two women were engaging in a short Q&A session with audience members after their sell-out show, Tea. The intimate venue at the Oatlands School Hall was perfectly suited for this quirky performance that displayed physical theatre of the highest standard.

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Ebenhaezer Dibakwane performs in Horror Story on 10 July 2015 at the National Arts Festival.  Horror Story explores the limits of fantasy and the numbing effects of graphic violence on a generation, the blurry line between truth and fiction, and what truly scares us.  (Photo: CuePix/ Amanda Horsfield)

All the seats in the Rehearsal Room are covered in sheets of dark grey plastic, taped together with silver duct tape. It rustles when you sit down or shift in your seat. Clothing is scattered onstage – shoes, shirts, jeans. A single lightbulb hangs from the ceiling, glowing sickly yellow.

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Patricia Boyer performs in Miss Margarida’s Way at The Hangar, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. This allegory about totalitarianism features a comically aggressive teacher Miss Margarida who takes out her frustration on her seventh grade biology class. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.

Miss Magarida. As you sit in her classroom being verbally abused, an absurd question might start running through your mind: “Why couldn’t Miss Magarida have been my school teacher?”

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Central University of Technology presents the dance The Light at City Hall venue in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015; at the 2015 National Arts Festival. A story about an aspiring dancer who falls into a dark path for money and links with a dangerous illegal mining industry. (Photo: CUEPIX/Niamh Walsh-Vorster)

Finally, South African theatre that deals with issues distinctive to South Africa.

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Chris Forrest performs in the one man comedy, Who’s Your Daddy? At Scout’s Hall, Grahamstown, 03 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Forrest relates his experience becoming a father for the first time. Photo: CuePix /  Jane Berg.

Chris Forrest stumbles onto the stage, laden with every child-care contraption imaginable. He places a wicker crib on its stand and then dramatically throws brightly coloured toys, a Disney-themed backpack, and other contraptions to the floor, before turning to address the crowd. A baby carrier is strapped to his chest, fake baby included.

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Anele Penny, Zinathi Nqewanges, Vuyo Mtokazi and Ludwe Mgolombane perform in Fringe Drama ‘Veil’ at the Masonic Back, Masonic Hall, Hill Street, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. ‘Veil’ was written and directed by Zwai Mgijima. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

A simple set, reminiscent of a high school production, welcomes me as I enter the dim space. Despite the minimal set, however, this production exceeded all my expectations, and kept me nailed to my seat from beginning to end.

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Jing Xian puppeteers in ‘Guandong Puppet Art Theatre’ at the National Arts Festival with the support of The Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in association with The China Theatre Association, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Founded in 1956, the Guandong Provincial Puppet Art Theatre has performed extensively at festivals in France, Russia, Germany, Czach Republic, Hungary, Pajkistan, Cambodia, Myammer and the USA. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

Puppets and puppeteers moved in harmony in a sea of reds, blues, blacks and stars. A twisting dragon, a circling phoenix, a sparkling flute player, and a crowned dancer open the Guangdong Puppet Art Theatre’s first show.

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Mawonga Gayiya performs in Astonish at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, 04 July 2015. Gayiya captured the audience not only with his sleight of hand tricks but with his quirky humour as well. (Photo: CuePix/Tamani Chithambo)

Festival-goers may recognise Mawonga Gayiya from his one-man illusion show Astonish. He can also be found surprising crowds on the Village Green with quick spots of his magic. He sat down with Cue to make balls magically appear out of ears, discuss the Festival hustle, self-promotion, and the Hare Krishnas.

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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.

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”.

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The 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre, Christiaan Olwagen, presents A Doll’s House in Grahamstown on 11 July 2015, at the National Arts Festival.  (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe)

I n between showings of his fast selling out adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, Cue managed to grab director and 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre Christiaan Olwagen for a quick chat and a photoshoot. Olwagen made his name at Festival directing the self-described appropriation Woza Andries? in 2010.

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