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OUT OF BOUNDS (article first published : 2007-10-9)

Theatregoers take note, Durban-born star of stage and screen and master storyteller Rajesh Gopie is set for a return season with his smash hit one-man play, Out of Bounds. Rajesh’s signature piece returns to the city of its origin after an absence of some years. Acclaimed in 33 European cities and across the USA, the play was hailed as ‘boundlessly brilliant’ and ‘a gem’ by The Citizen and as ‘one of the best plays you’ll see this year’ by The Sunday Times during its run in Johannesburg in 2005.

Intelligent and incisive, Rajesh Gopie’s passion shines through in Out of Bounds. Both irresistibly funny and emotionally searing, his virtuoso performance draws from a rich palette of some 25 characters to paint the story of his protagonist’s life and has frequently had standing ovations and theatre goers returning to see it more than once.

Written and performed by Gopie, and directed by American, Tina Johnson, Out of Bounds is set in 1980s South Africa. It tells the story of Lal, a young boy growing up on the outskirts of Durban in Inanda and Phoenix, where he lives with his extended family. All Lal longs for is a room to himself, and privacy.

As we follow Lal’s trials and tribulations we experience a time in South Africa’s history when, as Rajesh points out, ‘being a ‘coolie was anything but cool’. However, Out of Bounds is far more than just a play about Indian culture. It embraces all people who have asked themselves who they are and where they come from.

“People find themselves in this play”, says Rajesh. “We are all similar, and there is something universally human in this play. My director and I did not want to leave the audience unaffected. We wanted to reach toward something together, something primal. This is not a show for Indians only, it’s for the city, a city searching for love, truth, peace and sharing”.

Rajesh has a deep connection with his hometown. And this fearless writer and performer holds some forthright views on the state of local theatre: “The place of theatre in post-apartheid South Africa, particularly Durban, is questionable. In the pre-freedom struggle the Arts were the spearhead of change, but there is a lack of direction now. We need to create a regular season of work with a clear artistic vision. A good start would be for independent companies to liaise and work together to create more cohesion”.

Strong words of advice, but Rajesh has never been one to shy away from grittier issues. “I will always hit hard. I’m here for the sole purpose of truth, and I will continue deepening my reason for being here, helping other people”.

Since he was last seen onstage in Durban, at The Playhouse in 2005 in another of his stage hits, The Coolie Odyssey, Rajesh Gopie has been working in the international film industry. He appeared in Roger Spotteswood’s (director of James Bond, Tomorrow Never Dies) Rwandan drama, Shake Hands with the Devil, and in Shamim Sarif’s World Unseen, alongside international stars, Lisa Ray and Nandana Sen. This will be released at the Toronto Film Festival. He also played the romantic lead role opposite acclaimed European actress Monique Henriks in a feature film entitled Stellenbosch, due to open in November. He is currently shooting another film, Captain My Captain, about Hansie Cronje in which he plays the role of a ‘baddie’, the bookie, Sanjay Gupter.

On the mainstream South African theatre circuit, Rajesh Gopie achieved considerable success playing the title role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, directed by Oscar nominated Dame Janet Suzman at the 2006 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, and subsequently at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.

Be sure to catch this star performer live at Durban’s Seabrook Theatre in his acclaimed one-hander.

Performances of Out of Bounds, presented by Rasa Productions in association with the 1860 Pioneers Foundation, Lotus Fm and Community Projects, take place from Mondays to Fridays at 19h30 with two performances on Saturdays at 17h00 and 20h00 (Sundays at 17h00). Tickets R70 Mondays and Tuesdays, R80 Wednesdays and Thursdays and R100 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Book at Computicket on 083 915 8000. Charities and corporate bookings on 084 203 7362 or email rasaprod@icon.co.za




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