A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

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

THEATRE AT NAF (article first published : 2005-03-23)

New cross-genre fusions, new multi-media spectacles, new scripts and new culture-smart agendas stimulated by new audience appetites are the dominant flavours on the Main programme for the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 9. "A new tribe of mature and professional South African artists with international experience are cooking up a storm in the Mzantsi arts kitchens. The ingredients for this festival were garnered from the four corners of our creative marketplace by people who know the shortest route to the heart of an audience," said Lynette Marais, Festival Director.

The searing universality of Shakespeare's Hamlet is recharged by international director Janet Suzman - murder most foul, murky sexuality, politics and tradition in deadlock: could be today's news report. This Baxter Theatre production features a stellar cast: John Kani (King Claudius), Dorothy Ann Gould (Queen Gertrude) and Rajesh Gopie as the tortured prince. More depravity and corruption (this time in South Africa's townships) is dive-tackled in Relativity, written and directed by Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner Mphumelelo Paul Grootboom.

In Kobus Moolman's Full Circle, a trio of rightwing fundamentalists prepare to exact "an eye for an eye" from the enemy without, while the enemy within gnaws at their narrowing reality. The play was Jury Winner for Best Script at the PANSA Festival of Reading of New Writing, 2004 and is presented by the National Arts Festival, in association with PANSA.

Directed by Malcolm Purkey and produced by the Market Theatre, Mike van Graan's Hostile Takeover is a sharp-toothed satire on BEE and the ethics and mores of capitalism South African style. Van Graan's Fringe play Green Man Flashing was one of the hits of festival 2004.

Newtown - a spectacular Johannesburg/Birmingham collaboration - pulls out all the stops to celebrate the rebirth of twin cities. The people driving this regeneration tell their stories in drama, dance and music. The Afro-Caribbean UK writer Don Kinch and South African director Aubrey Sekhabi are in the drivers' seats of this team effort from the South African State Theatre and Birmingham Nu Century Arts.

Angels Everywhere swings the spotlight south to the seething streets of Manenberg, Cape Town for a deliciously funny and energetic slice of life by Aduragman Adams and Lisa Oppelt, directed by Oscar Petersen for the Art and Soul Collective. This isn't happy ending terrain but where there's laughter there's hope. Ambie Sistas hails from a suburb of Kimberley where a group of fame-hungry singer/dancers share stories with an ageing singer, reliving her trials and tribulations and projecting their own dreams for the future. Maturing in the State Theatre's 52 Seasons development programme, this Northern Cape Theatre Conservatoire production was written by Moagi Modise and directed by Kholofelo Kola with Mbongeni Ngema as Mentor-director and Musical Director.

Belief in human goodness and the healing power of nature radiate from Wood for the Trees, a collaboration between Fresco Theatre and Tweeling Productions inspired by Jean Giono's visionary story, The Man Who Planted Trees. Directed by Jaci Smith with Gys de Villiers, James Cuningham and Helen Iskander, it's a lyrically visual, feel-good delight.

Spice Root is another unique multi-sensory experience. This one comes from Teater Gelombang Badan (Wave Body Theatre), an Indonesia/Africa collaboration. Created by Rehane Abrahams, the theatre piece uses classical Javanese dance, shadow puppets, Gamelan music and food (prepared on stage by Cass Abrahams) to explore the legacy of slavery and exile.

Two scripts, originated in Europe, both use the different layers of theatre reality as a spatial metaphor: the public space shared by audience and performers and the private corners backstage. Alba Theatre (The Netherlands) places August Strindberg's 1889 classic, The Stronger, in a contemporary theatre dressing-room where two new generation Dutch actresses - Dutch-African and Dutch-Turkish - peel off costumes and wipe away make-up to expose and confront one another. In Michael Frayn's uproarious Noises Off, a sex farce (Nothing On) plays on the ‘real' stage, while another even zanier ‘real-life' farce plays out backstage and fast-talking characters try in vain to keep the two apart. Audience involvement is unavoidable in this West End smash hit brought to Festival 2005 by Pieter Toerien Productions.

More fun and games in the Street Theatre programme will have spectators howling for more. Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkhwane lace laughter with a lesson in What about Me? as they bridge the divide between selfish and communal interests. Popular hypnotist and showman extraordinaire, Stef Juncker flashes his skills as a juggler, magician and escapologist in The Great Escape, the story of Harry Houdini. Aywa, the French/Kliptown invention, is back in the form of a fascinating four-metre high puppet and two shows: The Story of Away and Memories of the Struggle. The pieces are part of the ongoing workshop on the history of Kliptown lead by Neusa Thomasi, Éric de Sarria and plastic/visual artist Arnaud Rabier for Kliptown Youth (SKY).

Vuka! Vuka! (Wake Up!) directed by Roel Twijnstra is a collaboration between Het Waterhuis (the Netherlands) and six South African performance groups. A funky open-air theatre spectacle based on a fusion of stories about children surviving on the streets, it features big screen video to add to the exciting sounds and action. Growing up with the National Arts Festival as part of their landscape, youngsters from Grahamstown's Eluxolweni Shelter present Ex/Change, a new show created with the guidance of their Art of the Street project leader Alex Sutherland.

The Studio offers another road to fame for aspiring Eastern Cape performers. This year's brace of dramas smile and sing and dance while they take the scalpel to hypocrisy, greed and lies. Devised and directed by Silulami Lwana, Sinners takes the mickey out of corruption in government education offices and The Moja Man makes fun of a ‘reverend' with plenty of skeletons in his cupboard. Grooving to the swing of township jazz, this Lovedale Community Arts Academy production is directed by Lindile Diniso. The third Studio production, Cacadu Cabaret, celebrates the wealth of dance and musical talent in the region under the direction of Tina Piek.

Adding a big surprise package of options to the main theatre programme, Fringe 2005 will feature big names, young hopefuls, new works and popular favourites. And, seeing more is always better, there are 10 productions on the Student Theatre programme: a fascinating barometer of what's to come on the performance spaces of the future. Participating companies hail from the universities of KwaZulu-Natal (both Howard College Durban and Pietermaritzburg), Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Rhodes and Free State as well as the Tshwane University of Technology and the Durban Institute of Technology.

This festival is presented by the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and the National Arts Council and booking kits will be available during mid April in time for the opening of the booking on May 9. The Fringe booking kit will be available from May in time for the opening on May 23. Further information on 046 603 1103/1164 or visit http://www.nafest.co.za




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart