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THE LIVING ROOM PROJECT (article first published : 2001-09-20)

Once again Eager Artists Theatre Company led by well-known Durban director and playwright Jerry Pooe will embark on The Living Room Project a cultural exchange programme which takes place in Buffalo, New York, from September 10 to October 7.

Jerry Pooe, who founded the company in 1993, has produced various educational, musical and industrial productions as well as a number of full-scale productions. Eager Artists has also participated in many cultural exchange programmes here in South Africa and abroad.

The Living Room Project is a partnership between Eager Artists and University at Buffalo New York and is based on intimate community engagements in which the artists and audiences share an informal meal and performances together in the home or business of each community "host." The project's main goals are: community outreach and a high quality, intimate experience for all participants.

In January 2000, University of Buffalo Center for the Arts received a generous grant from Lila Wallace/Arts Partners to support a community outreach Planning Project with Eager Artists Theatre Company.

The programme will include a 30-minute play addressing the realities of AIDS in South Africa and looking at taboos, prevention, treatment, loving and caring. It will further explore gender debate.

Also featured is the 30-minute Wathinta Abafazi Wathinta Imbokodo (You touch a woman, you touch a rock) which looks at the role played by women in society and focusing on their strength, as most of them are breadwinners in their families. The play touches on abuse and rape in the name of culture. This heart-warming story will be told through music, humour, frustration fear and hope.

Another programme comprises half an hour of song – “a tribute to our musicians who made it and those who never made it” involving songs of pain, love-lost, celebration, and hope. Also on offer is a half-hour poetry programme involving dance and songs celebrating South Africa’s freedom and looking the past, present and future through ritual dance forms, isicathamiya movement, Zulu dance and the Shembe movement as well as contemporary and township dance.

For public performance is Ekhaya Poppie, a full-length musical showing the real rural and South African city life. Touching on social history and future, it shows the role of African men and women in the Anglo Boer War, an aspect which has never been shown before. The history is based on a woman who left a rural home in search of her husband who left for the mines. She finds the man but he is already married and poverty turns her to prostitution. She entertains men recruited to the white man's war by singing songs of love, betrayal and longing for home. She is very popular, loved and respected. The call comes for her to leave the city and go back home where she belongs. The city cries for her, but home is calling.

The musical will premiere in Buffalo New York in September and is due to run at the Playhouse Company from October 18 to 29. More information from Eager Artists on (031) 304-4583/305-1624.




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