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ACCOLADES FOR ASHWIN (article first published : 2006-05-11)

Durban’s Ashwin Singh is enjoying multiple accolades – he has been selected to serve on both the PANSA national and regional committees; his play To House is soon to enjoy a new professional staging at the Playhouse; the script is about to be launched as part of a new anthology of SA plays in the UK; and his new play, Duped, was a finalist in the fourth PANSA Festival of Reading of New Writing.

A lawyer, writer, director, producer, actor and stand-up comedian, Ashwin Singh’s acknowledgement as a playwright is being re-affirmed by his play To House being selected as one of the scripts in a new anthology of New South African Plays by Aurora Metro Publications Ltd which best reflects the changes in post-Apartheid South Africa. The much-anticipated launch took place at the Oval House Theatre in Twickenham, UK on May 9.

As well as Ashwin’s To House, the anthology features Mike van Graan’s Green Man Flashing; Sibusiso Mamba’s Taxi; Beverley Naidoo’s The Playground and James Whyle’s Rejoice Burning. The collection is edited by Charles J Fourie who is acknowledged as being one of the leading playwrights of our generation whose plays have been produced in SA and the UK.

The UK launch will feature readings with actors – Mike van Graan will fly to the UK to be present at the launch and his Some Mother’s Son will be staged at the Oval House as a full production to be directed by Jay Pather.

Timeously, the rights to To House have just been bought by the Playhouse who will present a new staging of the production in the Drama Theatre from September 5 to 17. Casting and negotiations are underway to finalise the cast, director and designer for the production which will be announced presently. This project is in line with the Playhouse Company’s mission to stage exciting new South African works of excellence in its theatres.

To House was a finalist in the 2003 PANSA (Performing Arts Network of SA) Festival of Reading of New Writing (the country’s foremost playwriting contest). The play premiered at the Catalina Theatre last March. On the surface, To House is about territoriality, selfishness and power dynamics. On a deeper level it is about South Africa's increasing shift from an essentially race-based conflict to a class-based conflict. Ashwin Singh believes theatre-goers are yearning for a more substantial presentation of life in post-Apartheid South Africa. To House is the kind of powerful drama, laced with humour, which will provoke and challenge its audience. It is one of the few plays to feature a kaleidoscope of White, Black and Indian characters.

Duped was a finalist in the fourth PANSA Festival of Reading of New Writing which was held in November last year. Once more this valuable process was made possible through funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) which enabled PANSA to host three festivals in three different cities.

Duped is completely different to To House, in terms of genre, characterisation, plot structure and thematic explorations,” says Ashwin, who plans to stage the production early next year. “It is a satire and at the same time a thriller about corruption, greed and the abuse of power in contemporary South Africa. It is also a part parody on the Star Trek and Star Wars legacies and therefore has a fantasy element to it. It is set on a fictitious, fantastical vehicle called the Airship Equity and once again (like To House) has a kaleidoscope of Black, Indian and White characters.”

Ashwin Singh’s involvement in the performing arts community extends to him being nominated to serve both on the regional and the national executive committees of PANSA – the Performing Arts Network of SA. Nationally, Ashwin shares the vitally important role of General Secretary with Willie Reetsang from the North West Province. Regionally Ashwin has taken on the lobbying/legal portfolio being nominated at the PANSA regional AGM on April 24. Ashwin is perfectly placed for this demanding portfolio as he is both a practicing lawyer and law lecturer.

To complement these achievements showing the breath of his talents, Ashwin has been cast in an independent locally-made movie. He is also playing “Solly” in Rajesh Gopie’s Kismet Court which is broadcast on Lotus fm every weekday at 09h30.




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