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BREASTS (article first published : 2000-06-29)

Well-known for his success story White Men With Weapons, multi-award winning actor and playwright Greig Coetzee has just returned from four months in Antwerp where he was commissioned to co-write and perform in a new piece with the Internasionale Nieuwe Scene - a Belgian theatre company. But he’s no sooner back home, than he’s off to Grahamstown with his new one-hander Breasts - a Play about Men which will appear on this year's Standard Bank National Arts Festival.

In July 1995 Greig Coetzee appeared at the Grahamstown Festival in his professional debut - a short, self-penned playlet called Men Only - the prototype of his first full-length play, White Men With Weapons. Some 19 awards and 430 performances later this show has helped to establish Greig as a full-time writer and performer who has performed in theatres as far afield as New York, Antwerp, Perth and Singapore. In August this year Greig will perform the UK premiere of White Men With Weapons when he opens a four-week season at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival.

For Breasts, Greig deals with a simple subject - men talking about women. Their lovers and mothers, their sisters and wives. And like all of Coetzee's characters, these men are as South African as mielies and mini-buses. You will meet the couch potato who still hasn't recovered from the Cricket World Cup and is considering going into therapy since Hansie-gate. And then there's the backyard mechanic and his black maid, Pretty who makes a mean bean curry bunny chow. The other characters range from a school boy worrying about the size of his “equipment” to an ageing male stripper worrying about his love handles getting too big.

Greig hasn’t set out to do a simple battle-of-the-sexes piece. While some of the characters are stereotypes, he has given them “a new spin”, made them individual and thrown in a few surprises. “I've taken some okes and some new age men and some in-betweeners we all know. And, hopefully show some things about them that you didn't know or that you just hadn't noticed before. And on the way I want you to laugh at them and cry with them. And I don't want you to only say, "Yes, that's just what men are like." I want you to say, "These guys. They're South Africans. They're us."




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