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BAOBABS DON'T GROW HERE (article first published : 2002-12-29)

The critically acclaimed comic love story, Baobabs Don’t Grow Here starring James Cuningham and Helen Iskander is next up at the new Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf with a season which runs from January 7 to 16.

Baobabs Don't Grow Here is a self-devised, two-hander, the story of two gypsies, a caravan and a dream. In essence, the play is a simple love-story but the mixture of physical theatre, mime, live music and puppetry used to tell it creates a truly unique style.

A young Eastern European Gypsy couple travels to Africa in search of the Baobab tree which they believe will grant them fertility and their children, strength. The two actors play many different characters as their story winds its way through Europe, North Africa and finally to South Africa. The simple set is transformed by the actors to create striking images in this highly comic, yet deeply moving love-story. It is an allegory of cultural encounter, of roots and identity, of chasing dreams and of human nature.

Baobabs Don't Grow Here previewed at AFDA's New Wave Theatre in Johannesburg, before playing at The National Arts Festival in July this year, where it received an SAfm Recommendation. In August, it played at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was short-listed for a Total Theatre Award and nominated for The Stage Award for Acting Excellence. Since then it has been performed at The Hilton Arts Festival and the Gauteng Schools' Festival. All four festivals have resulted in sold-out performances. A European tour is planned for late next year.

Performers Helen Iskander and James Cuningham trained at the Jacques Lecoq School in France. Before that Helen trained and worked with John Wright in London and James with Keith Johnstone in Canada. Since then, they have worked in the UK with innovative and successful international companies such as Blow Up Theatre, Theatre Sans Frontieres and Total Theatre Award winners Theatre O. Now collaborating with director Sylvaine Strike, they have created their own theatre company in Johannesburg - Fresco Theatre.

“The two performers take you on a journey that convinces you that the theatres can and will be filled to maximum capacity again. A simple story with riveting and complex emotions that provides for hilarious fare, while being simultaneously heartrending and superbly entertaining." (T. Holtzhausen – see artSMart review on Drama pages)

Book at Computicket. The Catalina can either be approached via the entrance to the yacht clubs or from Maydon Wharf Road.




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