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TALES FROM BROTHERS GRIMM (article first published : 2000-04-2)

I think Garth Anderson must have been committed to the theatre from birth. Apart from being a highly versatile experienced actor, award-winning director and the head of the successful Actors Co-Operative, he has an extensive knowledge of theatre and film productions.

He works well with children, reaching them on a level that is neither patronising or simplistic. Just an ordinary guy telling them stories with a dramatic flair and amusing energy. Which, judging from his audience’s response at the Durban Botanic Gardens the other day, makes for a formula that hits just the right note for both youngsters and their more mature companions.

With 18 year-old Wayne Delport, Garth presented four stories from the Brothers Grimm in this charming setting – that’s if you could cope with kamikaze mosquitoes on the rampage on a humid morning before a storm!

He started off by explaining to his rapt young audience who the Brothers Grimm were, where they came from and how they amassed their stories, eventually being persuaded to record them for posterity. Thus we heard the original stories of Cinderella (Ashputtel), Red Riding Hood (Little Red Cap), Hansel & Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin.

But no watered down fairytales these – they come full of gore and horror. How the ugly sisters sliced off portions of their feet to get them to fit into the glass slipper or how the huntsman got a pair of scissors to cut open the wicked wolf’s stomach to release poor Grandmama and Little Red Cap. Or how, on being pushed into the oven, the wicked witch in Hansel & Gretel died a “crispy, crackly and crunchy death”. The graphic details were told – and listened to – with much relish!

A talent to watch, Wayne Delport is a former Drakensberg Boys Choir student. He proved to be very comfortable and highly amusing in comedy and character roles, playing anything from a camp ugly sister to a lisping Red Riding Hood or the gremlin Rumpelstiltskin - albeit the latter with a very wandering accent!

The only story which didn’t quite work was Hansel & Gretel and this might have been due to the fact that there wasn’t the same room for caricature offered by the other stories.

Tales from the Brothers Grimm will have a repeat run in the Durban Botanic Gardens from July 7 to 14 at 11h00. Take along mosquito repellent but, hopefully by that time the little monsters will be in hibernation.

For more details, phone Garth Anderson on (031) 262-6825. Ask to be put on his mailing list and then you can receive regular news of the wide range of Actors’ Co-Operative activities.

In passing, I couldn’t believe that a member of the audience not only hadn’t turned her cellphone off but answered it when it rang and continued to hold a conversation! When will the public realise that they aren’t watching television and that live actors need to concentrate? Also that the audience would like to enjoy the production they’ve paid for without having to listen to somebody else’s conversation!

The Playhouse has adopted a policy where the usherettes are empowered to confiscate cellphones that ring during a performance. Perhaps other theatre groups should create their own cell phone police – a Cell Watch as opposed to a Car Watch!




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