Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

Iconic musician Michael Masote is a guest of honour at the opening of Masote’s Dream, at the Transnet Great Hall, Grahamstown, 10 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Based on Masote’s biography, the play is about how he pursued his dream to become a violinist in the face of penury and South Africa’s racist apartheid regime. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.

This show is good: but don’t trust me, trust the man himself. Shortly after the South African premier of Masote’s Dream, Matlhaela Michael Masote, on whose life this musical is based, wept, saying the play reminded him of how far he – and we as a nation – had come.

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Gabriel Miya and Anelisa Bele performing in Behind Closed Minds at the Rehearsal Room in Grahamstown on 8 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Behind Closed Minds is centred around the practice of hypnotherapy. (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile)

Theatre has always struggled with the onstage treatment of sex. Either the act is portrayed as a disastrous comical farce, or a rigid mechanical act that is more suited to robots than humans pursuing a connection. The student production Behind Closed Minds falls victim to the usual traps of a play that deals heavily with sex and sexuality under the tutelage of an inexperienced hand.

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Amee Lekas in The Three Little Bitches, a play that takes a satirical
look at the gender discrimination and double standards affecting
women’s lives. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg

Three women take the stage, lit only by two hand-held lights. The powerful voices of the women resound in the small venue.

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Animated by the performers, life-sized puppets interact on stage in children’s show Warrior on Wheels. Photo: Greg Roxburgh.

“Since the beginning of time, warriors have been sent to live amongst mankind,” announces cast member Richard September at the outset of this heart-warming tale of a child overcoming disability. But over time, he continues, man lost the ability to see and appreciate them. Generations have passed without a single warrior walking the earth.

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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.

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Scene from director Karabelo
Lekalake’s revival of Sue
Pam-Grant’s Curl
Up & Dye.
Photo: CuePix

When director Karabelo Lekalake decided to stage a 26-year-old revival of Sue Pam-Grant’s Curl Up & Dye, she preferred not to update the setting to the present day, but rather keep intact the paranoia of a crumbling inner-city Johannesburg circa 1989. Initially this makes the play feel dated, especially as the dialogue harks back to those early and very tentative days of racial integration, where black people were either domestic workers or “terrorists”, and white people lived in a vague fear of the unknown but inevitable change that was coming. Nowadays, that scenario seems backward and outdated.

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Tq Zondi and Mpilo Nzimande portray two prisoners on Robben Island, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Sunday, July 5, 2015. Zondi and Nzimande will also be performing in Woza Albert at the Masonic, on the 9th of July at 16:00. Photo: CuePix/Aaliyah Tshabalala

The Island, written by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, is a play that belongs to a different age of South African theatre. This particular revival – directed by Peter Mitchell – is being staged in a Masonic Hall where the audience perches on crimson backless bleachers seemingly designed to inflict a hundred different agonies.

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This show attempts to showcase two different mental issues, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and depression. It is labelled as a comedy; however, the acting has a slight improvisational quality that made it difficult to engage with the comical aspect.

Lewis Dwyer

Undermined, Directed by Tara Notcutt, at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The 2014 Standard Bank Ovation Award winner and Fringe World 2015 nominee for Best in Theatre tells the story of Madlebe; a story of hope and perseverance.
(Photo: Sithasolwazi Kentane)

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.

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Roeline Daneel and Francis Chouler play Nicky and Glen Donahue in the Baxter Theatre’s production of Born in the RSA, a play
developed and co-written by playwright Barney Simon. Photo: CuePix/Jeff Stretton-Bell

At a glance, you might not register an apartheid fixation at this year’s Festival. Most of the content is glossy and new, and most of it is very concerned with the present and the near future. But several of the featured plays at this year’s National Arts Festival concern themselves with the apartheid past, or are retakes of productions that were originally written under apartheid. And of course, the decision to have satire – that loud political genre – be the focus of the year is a decision that suggests something about our present social fabric.

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