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

ONCE A PIRATE (article first published : 2003-02-15)

“Once a Pirate, always a Pirate”.

Armed with Elton John glasses, pith helmet and white overalls covered with emblems of his loyalty to his beloved Orlando Pirates (The Bucaneers) soccer team, Seputla Sebogodi trots onto the stage carrying a cooler box. Masquerading as an icecream seller, this is how he manages to get into matches to watch his heroes in action.

Once a Pirate is written by Paul Slapolepszy and Seputla has performed this production fairly regularly since it first appeared on the National Arts Festivla in Grahamstown severl years ago. He wryly adds that he is far more successful out of South Africa when he presents the show in venues in the United States or at the Edinburgh Festival.

This is a good production for the Catalina Theatre, Seputla controlling the wide stage to good advantage as he amiably uses the medium of drama, physical theatre and mime to tell his story.

Actually there are two stories involved here. The one concerning an avid fan’s following of a top soccer team and the other the story of Goodyear whose life changes dramatically when he happens to stop a “Just Do It” lorry laden full of shoes. He also happens to have had a banana in his hand at the time and, with the setting sun behind him, the driver assumes that he’s carrying a gun and takes off, leaving his vehicle to the mercy of Goodyear and inquisitive members of the neighbouring village.

Before he knows it, Goodyear is handing out boxes of shoes to anyone in the vicinity and soon after that, he starts seeing nearly everyone he knows - including the local priest – wearing “Just Do It” shoes. The long arm of the law eventually catches up with him and he finds himself incarcerated, still somewhat bemused as to the process which landed him in this unenviable position.

He also poses some thought-provoking dictums such as “When something is wrong, it is never finished until it is right.”

Seputa is a good storyteller and the show ambles along amiably with his amusing anecdotes. However, he could use his pauses more and allow the audience – as well as himself – a bit of breathing space between scenes and changes of mood.

There is a delightful scene where he consults a sangoma after which he decides fervently that soccer and muti don’t mix. Much humour is derived from his assertion that two feet can justifiably be considered on a par with a BMW 2 series – without the other two wheels! And we had a sense of his singing ability with a passing snatch of a Louis Armstrong number.

Right now, it’s a great change from World Cup Cricket! Take in the show for an easygoing hour or so of amusing entertainment. Tickets R40. Shows Tuesday to Sundays. Bookings on 031 305 6889 – Caroline Smart




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