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

MUSHO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (article first published : 2008-01-3)

The Musho International Festival takes place from January 3 to 13. International components to the festival include Mind / Mentes at Kwasuka Theatre on January 4 at 20h00 and January 5 at 18h00. Created and performed by the Mugachi Cultural Association, Mozambique. What goes on inside the mind of a Mozambican? An exploration of the stories and histories of ordinary people who have lived through extraordinary times. Beautifully told through story-telling and physical theatre and presented in English and Portuguese. Arab’s DreamEpisode Latte (Main Festival: International) at Catalina Theatre on January 8 at 20h00 and January 9 at 20h00 is presented by the Dam Company of Physical Theatre in Amsterdam, Holland. Inspired by Jose Saramago’s Blindness (1999, First Harvest Books) Here, an epidemic of blindness brings out the beast in the people, describing a hell on earth. Those afflicted with this blindness see only the colour white. In this performance, the notion of ‘no light but white’ is taken to represent the loss of nourishment by an infantile society ‘seeing milk only’. The solo represents a society that has lost sight of true values, true nourishment; a receptive audience that is both narrow minded and passive, and is compared to the patient being given intravenous nourishment through the needle inserted into his/her vein, and this nourishment is a one way road. The female character is presented as a prophetess, obsessed as a bird-deer. She has a clock-timer on her head: she must deliver us her credo efficiently as she has a quota – a limited use of words, and then she is gone....

Petrovic Petar (Main Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 3 at 20h00 and January 4 at 18h00. Written and directed by: Sanjin Muftic; devised and developed by Sanjin Muftic and Jason Potgieter; Performed by Jason Potgieter with drawings by Jon Keevy. At a very young age, Petrovic Petar lands in Africa as a refugee. From that very moment he begins his journey across the continent and also his search for his own place on it. Told through a combination of live performance and multimedia, the story documents Petrovic’s life story from being a little boy drawing a portrait of himself to an old man travelling through Africa’s largest desert. Along the way, we discover his fascination with Africa’s biggest animals, watch his arguments with some of Africa’s most controversial leaders, and observe his love of some of Africa’s most beautiful women. The man lived with big dreams, and even bigger adventures. How much of the story is true and how much is imagination is for the audience to decide. While Petrovic recounts his story, one cannot be sure if these are the memories of an old man, or the imaginings of a young boy. Through his story, the characteristics that make Africa home educate and entertain the audience: the music, the rituals, the history, and the people.

Hero (Main Festival) at Catalina Theatre on January 4 at 18h00 and January 5 at 20h00. Written by Stuart Stobbs, Andrew Buckland and Craig Morris, directed by Andrew Buckland and performed by Craig Morris, Hero tells two stories: one about Chris Minor, a man who from childhood was always obsessed with superheroes. Even as a grown man he seems to be unable to let go of this fixation and still believes himself to be a superhero of some kind. Is his world real? Does he lose touch with reality more and more throughout the play? The second story is about Warren, the archetypal success. Top at school in sport and academics, good-looking, destined for greatness. Yet his world is fraught with reality. A stressful, high profile job, family, big house and all the potential pitfalls that come with these trappings of modern living. Hero weaves these two seemingly contrasting tales into a study of what defines the Hero. Sometimes sad, sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious and laughable, stylistically, Hero draws from the fantastical through to the realistic, to portray the vast scope of the theme.

My CV: One Woman@Work (Main Festival) at Catalina Theatre on January 4 at 20h00 and January 5 at 18h00. Written and performed by Mary Steward and directed by Emma Durden, this is a humorous and insightful look at what we’re supposed to be in the world. What are we ‘working’ towards? Mary Steward tries to work it out from the early questions of: “ What do you want to be when you’re big?” to choosing subjects in high school and attempting to find a general direction thereafter to eventually staring at a business card wondering : “Is this it? Am I really a sales co-ordinator?” The actress references her own life and the colourful characters that make up the journey towards career clarity. We meet scary maths teachers, frustrated secretaries and the general public who approach her for service at the Clinique counter in London. The familiar corporate jargon sprouting brand managers and fast-talking sales people will have you laughing as you recall encounters with such characters in your own life.

Reality Bytes (Fringe Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 8 at 18h00. Written and Directed by Rowin Munsamy (with directorial assistance from Tamar Meskin) and performed by Rowin Munsamy and Tessa Sessions, this is a comedic peek into the world of Reality TV shows: During one of their news reports, the two characters are, themselves, thrown into this make-believe world of reality TV and are now trying to find their way back to the reality that they are familiar with. Every step that they take gets them closer to reality, but along the journey they find themselves participating in Survivor, The Amazing Race, Idols, The Bachelor, Big Brother and many more. There are times when they are unable to distinguish one reality from another. All this takes place in the space of one episode of 45 minutes, which, as they discover, is not enough time to fall in love.

Felix and Fred (Main Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 8 at 20h00 and January 9 at 20h00. Written and performed by Kobus van Heerden; directed by Liam Magner, the show focuses on two diverse characters. Felix (18) who is a wannabe rock star rebel who runs away from home after being expelled from school and Fred (12) who is a bird-watching enthusiast whose parents send him to live with his Gran before they travel to China to teach English for a year. The two are both newcomers to the town of Knysna when they form an unlikely friendship, together embarking on fishing adventures in the town's estuary. When they mistakenly throw away a bag of cocaine belonging to a Thai drug dealer, however, they are blackmailed into paying him five thousand rands in compensation. It seems their only hope of salvation is winning the Annual Knysna R10,000 fishing challenge. Will Lady Luck play along?

Passing Through (Fringe Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 9 at 18h00 is written by Tim Allen and Libby Allen; performed by Libby Allen; directed by Iain Ewok Robinson and produced by Do What I Please Productions (Iain Ewok Robinson and Libby Allen). The comedy drama tells the stories of five women who work the night shift in the Marianhill Toll Plaza. Through each character’s monologue, isolated in her booth in the middle of the night, the production makes real the individuals whom the rest of us only pass, who function to allow us to travel, whose destination point is only midway on our own journey, and who fade, if we don’t look closely enough, into a bleak and forgettable landscape. The production takes the audience on a journey, asking those who encounter the characters to consider the humanity in the faceless members of our society. It also looks at the strength of each woman, defiant in her femininity, determined to escape the shackles of her situation, and willing to stand with dignity – because in a society where class, stature and economic standing deem you bottom of the barrel, dignity becomes a formidable weapon.

Many Happy Returns (Fringe Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 10 at 18h00 is devised and performed by Sean de Klerk and Danielle Perlman. He is a man who has never flown. “Never” being a very long time. She discovers just how long. She is an airhostess who has just been fired. They find themselves at the boarding gate at Durban International Airport for flight SA259 to George. Of course, the flight has been delayed which doesn't help with his particular anxiety of being in the air. But it's a flight he has to take! He's waiting nervously to board when she enters his life and these two strangers embark on an unexpected journey without even leaving the ground...

Bombstyle (Main Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 10 at 20h00 and January 11 at 20h00 is performed by Iain Ewok Robinson and Liam Magner; directed by Libby Allen; written by Iain Ewok Robinson. In a society where the great protests have been made yet the problems still reign, where the spectacle of Revolution has passed yet the cry for change still echoes, where we rage against the neatness of our lives but we don’t know why, what does it mean to be a cultural terrorist? What do we become when we acknowledge our years of answering to routine, possession and status? What does it mean to be a cultural martyr? How does an individual remove themselves from the social hospital, how does that individual, as hostage of social construct, defeat his kidnapper? Bombstyle, the final insert in the trilogy of lyrical theatre pieces created by Do What I Please Productions, asks these questions as the artist is represented as cultural terrorist. Having been recognized for the social impact of their first two productions, One Mind, One Mouth, One Mic, and Spitfire: The Return Of The Red-I, Libby Allen as director and Iain Ewok Robinson as writer and performer, collaborate with Liam Magner of The Neon Anthems, to close the trilogy and delve into our social inadequacies in a new light.

Voetsek! (Main Festival) at Catalina Theatre on January 10 at 20h00 and on January 11 at 20h00. Andrew Buckland’s new solo piece directed by Janet Buckland which premièred at the 2007 Grahamstown Arts Festival is presented in the tradition of The Ugly Noonoo, Between the Teeth and Feedback. With typical humour and a unique performance style Buckland – and an astonishing life size puppet - create the extraordinary world of a refugee smuggler surviving in a land ravaged by war. With typically serious humour, and a uniquely physical performance style Andrew Buckland takes the audience on a fantastical journey fuelled by an intense love of storytelling and takes a different look at Africa under and just after colonialism.

Tycoon (Fringe Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 11 at 18h00. Created and performed by Khaya Ngema, the show won best directed play at the Ishashalazi Festival at the Ekhaya Multi Art Centre in Kwa Mashu. The production is about an old man, a one-time hardened gangster who was in jail for 50 years. As a young man, his father was killed in front of him by political fighters. To take revenge on the death of his father, he joined the gangsters and began a life of armed robbery, stealing, house breaking and raping. His community feared him and had him arrested. After his many years in prison, he came out to find his friends rich and complacent. This play is a portrait through dialogues, monologues, miming, songs and dances.

The Tricky Part (Main Festival) at Catalina Theatre on January 11 at 18h00 and January 12 at 18h00 is an award-winning play by American actor and writer, Martin Moran, performed by Peter Hayes and directed by Jaqueline Dommisse. It tells the story of a three-year abusive relationship Martin had with a camp counsellor from the ages of 12 – 15. And running parallel to this is the narrative of meeting the abuser 30 years later, as a 42-year-old man. While the details of the story we may have heard before, Moran achieves a remarkable feat by exploring the relationship and its aftermath, in all its complexity, ambiguity and grey areas. Abuse survivors are incredibly affirmed by a text that allows an audience into just how convoluted the story becomes as the impact plays out into adulthood. It’s also a man’s perspective, unusual for the subject matter. Men tend not to talk about the tricky parts in their lives, conditioned, as they are that emotions are for sissies, boys don’t cry. Sex is supposed to be fantastic - The Tricky Part breaks the taboo of this silence.

Msinsi / Home (Fringe Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 12 at 18h00 is performed by Bheki Kabela and Sduduzo Khawula; directed by Bhekani Shabalala, and written by the group. It offers an amazing look at some of the local legends of the people of Lake Bhangazi, an exploration of life on the land and the power of one sangoma to resist removals from place called home. The 55 minute-piece looks at the concept of home and at some of the forced removals from the Greater St Lucia Wetland park area. The area around Lake Bhangazi was settled by Zulu families, who would plant a Coral Tree (Msinsi) in the homestead to mark the birth of a child. In a proverbial land of milk and honey, the inhabitants lived off the land, harvesting honey from bees, harvesting mussels from the sea in the month that the Coral tree blooms, and living off their cattle. This existence was threatened by the forced removals of the 1950s apartheid government, as the land was designated for use by the forestry department. One man, known as Njonjela – lead the resistance against these removals. He was a revered sangoma with unusual powers, which he used to resist the government removals. While many other families were moved and lost their homesteads and their possessions, Njonjela stayed on the land until he died.

Frigid Foreplay (Main Festival) at Kwasuka Theatre on January 12 at 20h00 is created by Ntando Cele who features in the production alongside Josette Eales. Using movement and text to create moving pictures. The piece is set in a small shack, with an installation of suitcases and lights. Delving into the lives of two females, the performance lyrically spills on to the canvass, challenging stereotypes and magnifying issues on human encounters. Layered with narrative the tale reveals Nel’s darkest, deepest thoughts.

Jakob (Main Festival) at Catalina Theatre on January 12 at 20h00 and January 13 at 18h00 is based on a short story by lighting designer Michael Broderick, it was adapted for the stage by award winning actress Clare Mortimer. It stars Bryan Hiles and is directed by Michael Broderick. This is a critically acclaimed and engaging tale about a little boy called Jakob. For more info contact the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889 or PANSA office on kzn@pansa.org.za / 031 309 5838. Full schedules can be emailed / faxed on request. To book tickets to performances at either venue, call Thandeka at the Catalina on 031 305-6889. Full programme available at www.mushofestival.co.za




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