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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The Incredible Journey takes us on an adventure with Tommy, an eleven-year-old boy who lands himself in a sticky situation with a bully. Feeling hopeless, Tommy heads to the library to find some help, and is drawn to a book called The Incredible Journey. “That’s a little obvious, don’t you think?” he asks, poking fun at the title of the production.
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.
The stage is black. Three silhouetted men emerge one after the other. There is no dialogue to begin with, but rather sounds of construction: digging, a jackhammer, a pick axe. It is not clear what you are watching at first, but Tara Notcutt’s Undermined unfolds into a captivating and telling story.
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.
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.
Those unfamiliar with the intricacies of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter need not fear. The business of making the Bard attractive to today’s Festival audience is prominent in the minds of directors.
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