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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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.
Grahamstown is grey again, and the general mood is sullen. I wait outside Memory Hall, surrounded by children giggling at an abnormally high pitch. What have I gotten myself into?
Three Blind Mice, Rob van Vuuren’s flagship play, opened to a full house at the Rhodes Theatre on Monday night. The show is one of the 2015 Festival’s most anticipated productions, with every show selling out.
When I meet Rob van Vuuren, he is leaping across the stage at PJ’s with his daughter Bijou – they’re “jumping across the river”. Once she has grown tired of this act, and of him, she leaves and Rob starts changing while we chat. Throwing clothes around and gelling his hair, he yammers as if he is in the throes of the last few moments of a game of 30 Seconds. This Festival he is performing the final season of his standup comedy routine, WhatWhat. But he’s far more than a standup.
You might dismiss the children’s story of The Three Little Pigs as a benign parable told to children about making solid plans for rainy days – or for days when wolves abound. James Cairns, Rob van Vuuren and Albert Pretorius, under the direction of Tara Notcutt, brilliantly disabuse you of that from the outset of this innovative and fierce play. Don’t bring the littlies – this is no fairy tale.
The version of The Three Little Pigs that we all know and love was first published in 1890 in a book called English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. It is believed that there are much earlier versions of the story, dating back to the early 1800s.
The Three Little Pigs stage production takes the central plot of this well-loved story and adds raunchy humour, the occasional use of the f-word as well as more twists than a pigs’ tails.
Though at times a little crude, Van Vuuren presented a thoroughly enjoyable show with surprising glimpses of insight within his humour. Though the first half of the show was markedly more entertaining than the second, it’s just the thing if you’re looking to sit back and have a good laugh. SCR
There is a seat in the Guy Butler Theatre in a three-seat row for the gods reserved for people with very short legs. I got it last night for Mango Groove, the hugely photogenic poster children for this year’s Standard Bank Jazz Festival. Odd that. Not that the band doesn’t boast a couple of jazz musicians but Mango Groove are pop. Their crossover music includes township grooves from the ’50s to the present-day, even some reggae. You need to dance to it. And they were booked into the Guy Butler Theatre. Even odder that.
The Rob van Vuuren directed play, Nothing Funny is a post-modernist, meta-textual gem. The show stars Joe Vaz and Damon Berry as two stage actors who wake up with no idea of when, where or who they are.Vaz and Berry are equal parts comical, tragic, irritating and loveable.
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