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LONG LONG AGO (article first published : 2005-06-20)

To celebrate the Bicentenary of the birth of the world’s most loved storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen, the Actors Co-operative has announced a season of their family entertainment Long, Long Ago... Hans Christian Andersen in Africa!

The 45 minute play revolves around Andersen's 1837 story The Emperor’s New Clothes. All children will thrill to the age-old story of the two rascally weavers who craftily pull the wool over the eyes of their Emperor. Mums and dads, and grans and grampas alike will join in their youngsters’ pleasure as they laugh at the pompous vanity of the duped Emperor who is more concerned about his looks than his relationship with his people.

Filled with comedy, drama, singing and laughter with loads of audience participation, this fun play is ideal July holidays entertainment. Take along a beach umbrella, rugs and cushions and relax under the trees. Pick up the Colouring-In Competition flyers which are available now at any of the Botanic Gardens entrances so that the youngsters can participate in the daily competition.

If the children haven't coloured the flyer in at home, the Gardens provide crayons at this beautiful open air theatre venue. This is about 100m above the tea shop and clearly signposted from the Sydenham Road entrance and from the Main entrance.

If the family enjoyed last year's Tales From The Brothers Grimm, Book Twoi (Rapunzel & Hansel and Grettel) or 2003's Tales From The Brothers Grimm, Book One (Ashputtel & Rumplestiltskin) or 2002's Brer Rabbit And Friends, they'll love Long, Long Ago ... Hans Christian Andersen in Africa!. Aimed specifically at under-12’s, it gives young, eager would-be actors the unique opportunity to express themselves dramatically on stage through improvisation.

After nearly a quarter of a century of performance in venues around KZN including the Playhouse Loft, Hilton College, Pietermaritzburg and Botanic Gardens and the sadly-closed Animal Farm Fairytale Theatre as well as in Mozambique, the Actors Co-operative's hugely successful plays have firmly established the troupe as the leading Children’s Theatre Company in KwaZulu Natal. Productions have ranged from The Minerva Children, Tales from the Brothers Grimm, The Totally Terrific Tale Of Katinka Kat and A Doggy’s Tale to Izinganekwane Story Theatre, The Co-op has received the coveted Vita Award a number of times, as well as the Fools Award for its contribution to youth theatre.

Long, Long Ago... Hans Christian Andersen in Africa! is performed by a vibrant cast of young actors including Roweena Naidu, Daniel Watson and Yajna Maharaj. They are headed by powerhouse Mihlayenkosi Rose Magagula who recently performed at the Globe Theatre in London.

Directed by veteran theatre personality Garth Anderson, Long, Long Ago... Hans Christian Andersen in Africa! is a careful blend of entertainment and educational theatre that promises to delight all who see it, especially young audiences on their first visit to a live theatre performance.

As the founder and artistic director of the Actors Co-operative, Garth Anderson is a respected theatre practitioner whose work has been performed as far a-field as New York, Perth, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. He is especially well-known for his work in the field of Children’s Theatre. He has received the National Vita Award for direction, and has won numerous awards for his work in classics such as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

Long, Long Ago... Hans Christian Andersen in Africa! runs until July 16 at 11h00. Booking is now open on 084 422 1422. Tickets R25 (R20 youngsters under 12 and for pensioners) can also be bought at the venue half an hour before the show. Safe, guarded parking is available at the Gardens Main Entrance and at the Sydenham Road Parking.




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