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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SHADES OF MARGUERITE POLAND (article first published : 2004-04-22)

Directed by Caroline Smart, “Shades of Marguerite Poland” is a dramatic one-hour exploration of well-known Durban novelist Marguerite Poland’s sweeping novel of the Eastern Cape.

Presented by Troubadour Productions, this dramatic performance for schools’ is now in its third year. Teachers and learners who attended the highly successful runs in 2002 and 2003 gained considerable advantage from the fast-moving and thought-provoking show.

“Shades of Marguerite Poland” has been written by Patrick Collyer and Caroline Smart who worked closely with Marguerite Poland. They focus on certain issues in the novel which have posed stumbling blocks to those studying the work, using as their reference the questions most asked by learners of Marguerite Poland on her literary visits to schools.

The production has been set in the context of a press function/television chat show to allow narrative and argument to take place in a dramatic way. The audience become members of the media and should be made to feel that they are sitting right in the middle of the action. The four “accredited journalists” are based among them, moving forward when they become involved.

Benedict Matiwane, a real character in the book, is now elderly and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is attending a function in his honour at Lusaka University. This could also be any other major academic or literary institution in Africa other than South Africa, which at this period of Benedict’s life would have been in the major throes of apartheid.

The questions being posed by the journalists become more personal than the occasion warrants and one by one they reveal themselves as having an inextricable link to his past.

“The characters have been explored from the angle of their descendants, looking back at their ancestral shades which is central to the main theme of the book,” says Marguerite Poland. “I am extremely pleased that the debate existing in the book is being dealt with in this way which involves audiences and explores not only characters but issues which are relevant today.”

Performances for schools of “Shades of Marguerite Poland” will run from May 10 to 21 and the show’s duration is approximately one hour. The production will be staged in thePlayhouse Drama. Tickets R20 per learner. To book contact Margie Coppin on 031 266 7892 or 083 251 9412.




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