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THE COOLIE ODYSSEY (article first published : 2002-06-27)

Following a writer's grant from the National Arts Council and the generous support of the National Arts Festival's Committee in Grahamstown and The Indian Consulate, RASA Productions will present award-winning playwright and actor Rajesh Gopieís The Coolie Odyssey at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

New York based theatre director Tina Johnson has chosen a strong ensemble cast who manipulate the shifts in focus from modern day South Africa with a pantheon of Hindu Gods, to a rascal theatre-troupe based in Calcutta in 1890, indentured labourers of the former Natal colony, South Africa in 1946 and finally to a farm on the KZN north coast.

The production sees the welcome return to Durban of well-known Johannesburg-based artists: Frantz Dobrowsky (Panic Maniac); Alistair Dube (last seen in Durban in the Playhouse Companyís production of Bessie Headís Maru); Crystal Tryon (A Coloured Place), and comic Kaseran Pillay.

Local favourites are Esmael Teixeira (The Great Outdoors), Krijay Govender (Shereen in eTVs Backstage), and former teacher turned actor/comedian Afzal Khan who makes his mainstage debut. RASA welcomes newcomer dancer Mekantha Naidu - a Kuchipudi artist recently graduated from Chennai, India. The show also introduces brother and sister team Keshava Nair (11) and Sankari Nair (9).

Additional choreography has been provided by Jay Pather and Andrew Verster has designed the costumes. The production team includes Greg King (set, masks and props design), Janet Walsh (stage management), Glen Olsen (lighting) and Niresh Singh (sound).

More details from Gerard Samuel on 083 767-0060 and 031 201-2826 (o/h) or e-mail gmsamuel@mweb.co.za




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