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SPOILS OF WAR (article first published : 2005-04-4)

The Drama and Performance Studies Programme of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Howard College) will present The Spoils of War which was produced for the 22nd RITU Theatre Festival in Liege, Belgium, where it played to great acclaim.

Directed by Tamar Meskin who has adapted the work with Mervyn McMurtry and the cast, the production runs in the Square Space Theatre (Howard College Campus).

There are five characters: a Poet, a General, a Soldier, a Woman, and a Seer (based loosely on Greek archetypes). They embark on a journey through a conflict that maps the past and the present, a series of moments through which audiences witness the unfolding horror of their descent into the fires of fear, grief and anguish, as those who fight forget what they are fighting for, and those who lose, lose their very spirits.

The story told is not of one specific war - it could be anywhere, anytime - from Troy, through Vietnam, to Apartheid South Africa, and into present-day Iraq.

“The story is a reminder that mankind needs anchors to root humanity,” says Tamar Meskin. “In war, those anchors are raised and what remains is fearsome. Conflict traps us all, binds us with shackles extremely hard to break; violence begets violence, and in the cycles of hatred and fear are born more conflicts, until we forget all the whys and know only the grim consequences that repeat and repeat.

“These must change, or we will doom ourselves to oblivion. The Greeks saw men as the playthings of the gods; we need to think about whose playthings we have become. The play asks us to question what may be built on the ruins of war, whom do we call hero, whose version of justice is to be believed, and what is the price to be paid, for all?

“We ask these questions and tell this story that cries "Sorrow, Sorrow" in order that - someday - the good will prevail."

The production was workshopped using a number of Greek texts. It uses an eclectic style, drawing on diverse performance modes, that reflects the multicultural South African context speaking to a world audience.

Spoils of War runs from April 5 to 9 at 19h00. Tickets R20 (R10 students/scholars). Bookings on 031 260 3134 (08h30-13h000, fax 031 260 1410 or e-mail: wagnerc1@ukzn.ac.za




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