Posts Tagged ‘William Harding’

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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A man in a tawny, ankle-length coat, grey onesie and maroon slippers is asleep on a chair. Piles of books surround him. On such a miserable, rainy day, I am immediately jealous of his situation. William Harding is about to perform Travels around my Room, a production directed by Sylvaine Strike. He captivates the audience from the start. His rich voice and eloquent speech are a treat to listen to. His diction is like a perfectly cooked chocolate lava cake – oozing with decadence.

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William Harding appears in Travels Around My Room.
Photo: CuePix /Jeff Stretton-Bell

Blaise Pascal first uttered the oft-repeated line, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”. Centuries later, the Beatles put a Taoist spin on it by telling us to “arrive without travelling”. The idea is animated in Sylvaine Strike’s Travels Around My Room, a one-man play in which said man undertakes a 42-day journey around his room.

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Andrew Buckland on stage playing Ivan, a smoker who is giving a lecture about the harmful effects of smoking, at the St Andrews Hall in Grahamstown on 2 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival (Photo: CuePix/Hlumela Mkabile).

Tobacco and the Harmful Effects Thereof is, so to speak, a metaphor for marriage in this wondrous adaptation of the Anton Chekov play of a similar name. Under the consummate direction of Sylvaine Strike, Andrew Buckland delivers a performance that keeps the audience on the brink of a precipice between laughter and tears for more than one hour.

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Barney Simon's Born in the RSA returns to the stage (above) while Nicholas Ellenbogen (right) has another installment of the ever popular Raiders. Photos: Rodger Bosch and Cuepix/Niamh Walsh-Vorster

Gracing (disgracing?) the cover of the Festival programme this year are two fictional creations, one a comparatively recent addition to our satirical landscape, the pugnacious puppet Chester Missing, the other a flesh-and-blood institution, Evita Bezuidenhout, who has arguably eclipsed her creator in the minds of those who seldom visit the theatre.

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