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MUSHO FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-01-9)

The Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) in KZN, with support from National Arts Council (NAC) will host the second Musho International Theatre Festival of One and Two Person Theatre from January 11 to 21 at both the Kwasuka and Catalina Theatres in Durban.

Musho – Zulu for an enthusiastic praise response, something similar to “Bravo!” - embraces all true and accepted forms of theatre: from mime to physical theatre, drama to musical theatre. It pays tribute to the smaller works featuring one and two performers.

“The first festival was held in January 2006, and was a resounding success with some fabulous productions, interesting dialogue, inspiring master-classes and amazing support,” says Emma Durden, Musho Festival Organiser. “The festival will once again showcase the most innovative, interesting, articulate, sophisticated and cutting edge theatre available currently and will be a real feast of contemporary and acclaimed fresh new works sourced from throughout South Africa and abroad.”

There are two international productions this year – Shrimps and Exile at Home. From the Dam Company from the Netherlands, Shrimps is physical theatre at its most innovative: It is a post-apocalyptic love story set in a desolate landscape, where two people create their own reality through love and humour. From Israel, Exile at Home is not only a political fate, it can also be a state of mind, a cultural and inner exile, imposed or chosen. This theme is explored as two women, an Arab Muslim and a German Jewess, long for the promised land. Written by the Arab-Hebrew Theatre organisation, it is sponsored by Tararam - South Africa Israel Culture Fund.

A myriad of South African productions are on offer – among those to look out for include some light-hearted topical comedies like Bridesmaid which looks at a single woman’s vantage point from the side of the bride through a decade of bad dresses and drunken dancing. The Horseshoe sees two men sitting at the tote, out of money and out of luck, looking back on their lives and their losses. It is written and performed by Bheki Khabela and Sduduzo Khawula with direction by Bhekani Shabalala.

The tender Love is what it is looks at the delicate human being and features puppets by George Holloway and the fantastic light creations of Michael Broderick. Jakob creates his own world of darkness in which to hide his deformities. He realises that only by moving into the light can he find love. In similar vein, The Blue Period of Milton van der Spuy is an articulate, deftly-created gentle portrayal of a disabled artist by acclaimed writer/performer Greig Coetzee.

Spitfire showcases hiphop sensation and street poet Ewok and Birds Eye View is reviewed by the Cape Times as “A piece of nifty theatre, full of surprises and witty touches and heart…”

Expletive Deleted tells the story of Hannes (Thomie Holtzhausen) who is a human firewall employed by a gorgeous boss to screen employee emails for obscenities. This strange voyeurism results in both lust and distrust which finally push Hannes over the edge. It is written by Janet Van Eeden and directed by Ian Roberts.

Shining light on specific cultural issues are Mike van Graan’s hard-hitting Some Mothers’ Sons which looks at the friendship between two good men: a freedom fighter and his lawyer, and what unfolds when the tables are turned in an entirely different South Africa 20 years later. Tin Bucket Drum is a story from the heart of Africa of a young girl who learns to make herself heard and features Ntando Cele and percussionist Wake Mahlobo. Indian with Attitude is an hilarious comedy with well known local comedian, Vivian Moodley; Knowing You Knowing Me is a musical comedy from well-known local actor/producer Hamish Kyd and Blood Orange is a one-handed crazy physical comedy of living life in South Africa masterfully performed by Craig Morris.

This year there will be a fringe festival, which runs parallel to the main festival featuring seven productions created mostly by youthful and emerging theatre-makers. Among them is Beggar, an abstract piece written and performed by Pranesh Maharaj, who recently impressed theatregoers and critics with his performance in Ashwin Singh’s To House. (See separate article)

There is also a masterclass to be presented by Simon Rowe and Dorit Weintal of the DAM Company, Holland. This will be a hands-on physical theatre workshop focusing on integrating energetic and physical creative processes, and the kinesthetic understanding of the body-in-motion, visualization and character. This class is free of charge for all performing artists, but bookings are essential. The Physical Theatre Workshop takes place on January 15 from 10h00 to 16h00.

Musho is grateful for the financial support of key partners: the Performing Arts Network of SA (PANSA KZN Chapter); the National Arts Council, Tararam - South Africa Israel Culture Fund and the Royal Netherlands Embassy. Musho is part of the “Durban Africa Summer Spirit – so much to do” campaign.

Tickets R50 per person per show (R25 students and pensioners). Booking for either venue through Thandeka at Catalina on 031 305 6889. Full schedules can be emailed on request from pansakzn@polka.co.za and the complete programme is available at www.mushofestival.co.za




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