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THE WORLD IN AN ORANGE (article first published : 2005-12-16)

Ten years in the making, The World in an Orange: Creating theatre with Barney Simon is a national treasure. It contains 80 testaments from artists who knew and worked with the legendary artistic director, writer and co-creator of The Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

This book was conceived soon after Barney Simon’s untimely death in July 1995 and the authors have done his memory proud by scouring the country and the globe for artists willing to share their experiences of their work with him. It weaves a picture of Simon’s creative processes through their eyes.

Barney Simon workshopped, wrote and directed unforgettable, pertinent and excellent plays with actors, in his quest to “hold up a mirror high to society” and by using his famous ‘orange exercise’.

look at pieces of skin. squeeze for sweat. begin to peel. careful of flesh. Watch others peel. listen to sound. look at nude orange. look on pile of peels. Remove one section intact. peel section without wounding. remove globule. taste globule. eat whole section. eat orange. feel life of orange in mouth. watch others eat orange. place peels. waste in centre of room. look at pile. someone collect pile. remove. look at empty centre. be aware of mouth, body that has experienced orange. a disc on floor. a ball on floor. watch ball move on floor. watch floor with ball moving across it. throw ball in air. watch ball in room. watch.

In this way, through a single orange, he communicated lessons of details, care, respect and much more.

Irene Stephanou is an award-winning actor, writer, performer and teacher. Wits University trained, she has co-written and performed three one-woman shows, which toured nationally and internationally. Her course Theatre and Life, developed under Barney Simon still runs at The Market Theatre Laboratory. She is currently involved in the staging of her latest play Acropolis Café at The Market Theatre.

Leila Henriques is an award-winning actor who trained at the Oxford School of Drama and worked for two years in London. On her return to South Africa she joined The Natal Performing Arts Council’s (now the Playhouse Company) Loft Theatre Company in Durban but she did some of her most challenging and exciting work at The Market Theatre. She was directed by Barney Simon in Silent Movie and Hedda Gabler. She is also a teacher, writer and mother.

The World in an Orange: Creating theatre with Barney Simon is published in hardcover by Jacana Media and retails at R395 ISBN 1-919931-25-2




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