Category: Theatre

Lebogang Mogashoa performs in a one man comedy, When We Were Nearly Young, at Dicks in Grahamstown on 7 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. When We Were Nearly Young is based on Lebogang Mogashoa's personal experiences. (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile)

Lebogang Mogashoa has comedy in his blood. In his hilarious and quirky When We Were Nearly Young, he takes us through a comic retelling of the “stories that come after four glasses of wine”.

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Nat Ramabulana and Janna Ramos Violante perform in The Imagined Land at Vicky’s, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. The Imagined Land is a new play by acclaimed writer Craig Higginson in which a famous Zimbabwean novelist, modelled on Nadine Gordimer and Doris Lessing, is confronted by her biographer with difficult memories from her past. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.

The National Arts Festival pretty much reflects the theatre scene as a whole. There is still not enough black theatre, and there are not enough black audience members. It’s largely a matter of economics but it’s also related to artistic will.

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Ralph Lawson in A Voice I Cannot Silence at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The play, directed by Greg Homann, is based on the life, stories and poems of Alan Paton.
(Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane)

Decades ago, when I was a first-year student at Rhodes, I met Alan Paton. He was fulfilling one of his many speaking commitments; this was rather bizarrely combined with an inter-house debate, in which I took part. The students’ content was frivolous; Paton’s, needless to say, wasn’t.

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Stand Up 4 Comedy is stand-up ensemble featuring Gavin Kelly, Mo Mothebe, Virgil Prins and Ebenheazer Dibakwane.

It was at last year’s Festival that the group first performed together. Since Prins’ last appearance, he has worked on his set and added new material. Embedded in Prins’ set are the day-to-day challenges that a young person faces. The up-and-coming comic jokes about leaving his call-centre job to do stand-up, his new relationship, and being broke.

Gavin Kelly also addresses financial difficulties. “People get upset when the price of petrol goes up – I get upset when the price of Oros goes up!” he says.

On this particular day, the show’s audience comprises of an older crowd, which poses a challenge. “Have you ever been broke, sir?” Prins asks a balding man in the front row. “No? Never? Well, I’m going to tell you this story anyways.” Prins chuckles.

It’s easy to be an audience member: the expectation is that the comedians make you laugh, catering to your sense of humour. For the comedian, the audience’s expectations can weigh heavily and as funny as you may be, there will always be some hits and misses.

What is admirable about these four is how honestly they handle the misses. When Ebenheazer Dibakwane’s Superman joke isn’t immediately understood, he says, “I’ll work on that joke until you’re laughing”. He continues to take a sip of water and garners a better reaction for his next joke about his friend, Javas.

Mo Mothebe, who also featured in The Very Big Comedy Show 3 on Thursday 9 July, brings to the crew his sharp wit. His area of expertise is making you see the funny in everyday things. His joke about the inappropriateness of naming a baby “John” had me laughing so hard I almost missed the follow one.

Guest comedian’s Tshekedi Monyemore’s hit is his joke about Nigerian Jesus, while George Kuda pokes fun at race-relations: “Apartheid was there but there was no load shedding.”

It is evident when I hear the sound technicians chuckling from the back of the Bowling Club, that these comedians have a knack for jokes their age-mates can relate to.

As a fan of stand-up comedy, I think this group are worth a watch. As they climb the comedy ladder, they’re bound to attract bigger audiences. And with the amount of work they put in, they deserve them.

Gorata Chengeta, Cue reporter

Carina Nel from VNA Productions performs in ‘Suster’ at the B2 Arena, Monument, Lucas Avenue, Grahamstown, 09 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. ‘Suster’ is the sequel to the 2014 award winning “Smaarties’ written by Jannes Erasmus and directed by Quintin Wils. Photo: CuePix/Pearla Berg.

This is a difficult review to write. While Suster excels on a number of counts, certain elements in the work make it an ambivalent experience overall.

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Christian Olwagen’s production of Ibsen’s enduring drama, A Doll’s House, is driven by a clear directorial vision and performed by a powerful cast.

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Khaya Kondile performing in Interplay at the NG Kerk Hall in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile)

Interplay, which features an almost all-Joza Township cast, uses the Xhosa tradition of storytelling to educate one another about the benefits of the Internet, but I wish the cast would have studied acting and staging.

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Ashley Searle and Nadine Theron in Bon Soir at the 2015 Natioal Arts Festival in Grahamstoen. A montage of brand new FollowSpot entertainment including all things dance, singing and booty shaking to wow the crowd.
(Photo: CuePix/sithasolwazi Kentane)

Bon Soir is a combination of dance, comedy, acting, singing and acrobatics. Think Moulin Rouge meets Madame Zingara. It is quality entertainment that has been put on by the famous Follow Spot Productions, with director Vanessa Harris.

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OLerato’ona Sesing in #ToyiToyi. Photo: CuePix/Niamh Walsh-Vorster

Choreographed by Kieron Jina, #ToyiToyi is a dramatic dance performance that raises serious questions about the politics of the Rainbow Nation. The work, presented by the University of Johannesburg, explores race relations, homosexuality, and rape culture in our country.

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Warona Seane delivers a performance of quiet authority in Tin Bucket Drum. Photo: CuePix/Jeff Stretton-Bell

The musician sits stage right. He is surrounded by instruments: a triangle, wind chimes, cymbals and a huge tin bucket. There are a line of pedals on the ground at his feet, to control the sound of his warm red acoustic guitar. He plucks and strums, smiling genially at passing audience members.

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