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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

UNDERGROUND JUNGLE (article first published : 2002-07-2)

Former University of Natal Durban movement lecturer Margaret Larlham is now based at San Diego State University in the USA. Last year, she brought to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown a collaborative piece between the two universities titled Left Luggage.

The participants gained so much by the project which was extremely successful and so well received that she decided to repeat the process this year. Produced by an international theatre collaboration created particularly for the process titled Beyond Borders Group, Underground Jungle: a Theatre of Images plays this year’s festival in Grahamstown at the Glennie Hall.

The performers are Adrian Alita, Zachary Diestler, Jamie Koottarrappellil and Jomar Tagatac from the department of theatre at San Diego State University with Verne Munsamy and Lucy Wallace from the department of drama and performance studies at UND. Jomar Tagatac made a very strong impression on this reviewer last year in Left Luggage.

Underground Jungle is based on the story of a man who has lost his way in spite of his best intentions. On his climb towards a better life, he falls into an underground jungle inhabited by creatures of his own invention. The piece is his journey towards the realisation that his existence within the universe lies beneath the skin of his own body.

This multi-faceted movement piece was formulated across the two continents by e-mail as the ideas flowed back and forth between the two universities. It is based on the eternal question performers ask themselves - what is the point or significance of being an actor or an artist?

Good use is made of vocal dynamics and there was a nice scene when one of the soliloquies from Shakespeare’s Hamlet was set to song. The loose flowing Larlham choreographic touch is clearly evident and costumes whimsical and freestyled.

Let’s hope we see Beyond Borders Group back again next year.




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