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

FULL CIRCLE (article first published : 2005-07-5)

In 1856, there was a devastating event in Xhosa history. A young prophetess, Nongqawuse, persuaded her people to slaughter all their cattle and destroy their crops with the promise that the sun would rise in the west and the white settlers would disappear into the ocean. As history proved, no such thing happened and it took many years before the Xhosa people were to recover their devastating losses.

Using Nongqawuse’s prophecy as reference, playwright Kobus Moolman has taken the saga full circle into modern-day South Africa for his Full Circle, moving it to 1994 and placing it in the orbit of a dysfunctional trio of Afrikaner extremists.

The contemporary Nongqawuse is a young blind woman named Meisie. Her father was murdered seven years ago and all she remembers of the incident is the voice of the man who laughed at her as shots were fired. Living with her is her uncouth and volatile uncle (Oom) and her brother (Boetie), a trigger-happy and impressionable young man who is still God-fearing enough to know right from wrong.

Meisie has special powers – she dreams things - and Oom is not averse to using this gift for his own gain. These right-wingers are passionately involved in their own struggle and relying on Meisie for guidance as to their next moves. Then into Meisie’s life comes the voice she remembers so vividly and the master plan accelerates.

Denis Hutchinson’s set is workable and effective, featuring a dining area which flows into a sandy rain-starved garden with its bank of white roses, rusty wheelbarrow and – illogically – an equally rusty anchor!

Director Charmaine Weir-Smith has drawn excellent and believable performances from her cast. Anriette van Rooyen is superb and convincingly blind as Meisie, whose intensity and strength grow as her visions become more demanding. Michael Richard’s physical and vocal powers are used to the full in the demanding role of the brutal Oom and Hannes Brümmer’s sensitive and fine-drawn portrayal of Boetie captures our sympathy. As the cheerful Inspector, Samson Khumalo offers a refreshing normality to the intensity of the extremists.

Kobus Moolman is to be congratulated in having created a riveting drama that compels attention from start to finish. His poetry background means he is finely tuned to the rhythms of speech and therefore his text flows easily. However, immediate attention must be made to lessening the number of blackouts between each scene, necessitated by the filmic nature of the script. They hold up the action and strangle the energy.

In the end, Meisie reigns victorious having destroyed her enemies and engineered the devastation of crops and cattle …and so we come full circle.

Full Circle is presented with assistance from the National Arts Council. There will be performances at Rhodes Box on July 5 at 14h00 and 19h00 and on July 6 at 11h00. Please note that the festival programme is incorrect regards the duration. The show runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes with a short interval. – Caroline Smart




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