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SUCCESSFUL MUSHO FESTIVAL (article first published : 2007-02-5)

The second annual Musho International Theatre Festival of One and Two Person Theatre held in Durban last month, was a resounding success playing to good houses, enthusiastic response and showcasing some astonishing new work.

Musho – Zulu for a encouraging praise response, something similar to “Bravo!” or “Encore” - 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 Musho Festival is presented by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) in KZN with support from key partners: the National Arts Council, Tararam - South Africa Israel Culture Fund and the Royal Netherlands Embassy. Musho was part of the “Durban Africa Summer Spirit – so much to do” campaign and ran at both the Kwasuka and Catalina Theatres in Durban from January 10 to 21.

In all – there were six shows from Durban, five from Cape Town and Johannesburg and two international productions on the Main Festival.

An exciting development, which was staged for the first time this year, was the Festival Fringe. There were five new productions on the Fringe – all original, new and from Durban. Significantly, some of the most innovative and exciting of the shows on offer – and some of the productions with particularly good audience support - were to be found on the Fringe.

The audience took part in an audience survey to establish which shows were most popular among the public. The Audience Selection Fringe Favourite went to Spun – a fun energetic one-hander about an unlikely hero called on to save the world with his DJ-ing skills, ably performed by Liam Magner and accompanied by Gary Thomas on guitar.

The Audience Selection Best of the Fest Award went to Tin Bucket Drum – a delicate, beautifully crafted story about a young woman blessed with a magical rhythm performed by Ntando Cele with percussion by Wake Mahlobo, written by Neil Coppen and directed by Karen Logan.

The runner up on the Main Festival went to Hiphop sensation EWOK (aka Iain Robinson) for Spitfire - in a perfectly eloquent hip-hop rant showcasing his breath-taking poetry and wise insight, directed by Libbey Allen.

A special award was presented by the Suliman family who attended every one of the 18 shows on offer and made their own family selection for the production they most enjoyed. They donated a floating trophy to the festival to be presented annually. The inaugural Suliman Selection Award also went to Ewok for Spitfire.

Runner up for the Suliman Selection was Craig Morris in his innovative physical theatre piece, Blood Orange.

The festival closed with a Cabaret Party (PANSA showcase and fundraiser) on Wilson’s Wharf featuring 14 acts including many of the Musho participants. The cabaret party saw the Wharf pumping with standing-room-only. The cabaret was made possible by support from Wilson’s Wharf and the Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism – eThekwini Cluster.

With such strong support from Durban’s tight-knit, energetic theatre community and the public – it looks as though Musho will become an annual fixture on the city’s vibrant arts calendar.




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