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

NAF FRINGE PHYSICAL THEATRE (article first published : 2008-06-14)

The Fringe Physical Theatre probes some thorny issues at the 2008 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (June 26 to July 5). From sexuality, identity and love as well as belonging and authenticity to some of the more bizarre absurdities of life, the 2008 programme is packed with physical gems.

Le Carnival de ma Vie (My Life as a Carnival) by the Matchbox Theatre Company investigates our journey through life, with its unexpected twists and turns. Starring Nicola Haskins and Bailey Simon, this production, is sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always strikingly familiar.

Swaziland’s Waterford Kamhlaba College presents an exploration into our (awakening / awakened) sexualities, which takes as its springboard Africa’s customs, cultures and conservative stance on sexuality. Directed by Jaap Ruoff, this piece relays a unifying message of not just accepting but respectfully challenging difference in opinion.

The Levitation Lesson, choreographed by Hermien Potgieter, and performed by St Andrew’s College and DSG dance seniors, delves into the classic tale of a tragic love triangle, while Kissing Frogs by the Cape Academy of Performing Arts Drama Department verbalises the unspoken feminine query – “just how many frogs do we have to kiss before finding ‘true’ love!”

The Paperbody Collective’s (In) Medea Res uses puppetry and projection to ask, “What comes next?” This multimedia piece is directed by Festival veteran, Aja Marneweck, with original music composed by Sebastian Voigt and cinematography by Jacqueline van Meygaarden.

Earlier this year, Heike Gehring’s Ekspedisies was hailed as “the perfect marriage between words, movement, music and content” (KKNK Krit 2008). The piece stars Tshego Tlholoe, winner of the Gauteng MEC’s Award for Most Promising Female Dancer, and is choreographed by Alan Parker.

Composition Z – The House of Stone tackles some hard-hitting issues of displacement and authenticity. Juxtaposing a Venda water spirit, a Zimbabwean border jumper and a mystical bird, Awelani Moyo combines storytelling with visual theatre and symbolism to transform public events into personal narrative. Performed in the newly-created Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre, this one-woman piece promises entry into a magical world.

Woz Elalin eBomvu is set in the Red Location in Port Elizabeth – the oldest, most dilapidated township in the area. Fire Theatre Productions looks beneath the poverty and squalor and reveals the determination and strength of character that has seen so many residents triumph against the odds.

Performer, Craig Morris, and writer, Greig Coetzee, combine their talents to peer into the pit below Johannesburg – what lives in the huge holes left by the miners? Directed by James Ngcobo, Pitfall, promises an intriguing exploration into the underbelly of Jozi.

On the lighter side, Donovan Graham directs Greg Parvess in a fast-paced, highly physical work that skates through eight life stories: The Atomic Squid was described in the Cape Argus as “rip-snortingly funny and heart achingly moving…with vignettes ranging from the gloriously absurd to the sublime.”

There’s plenty more physicality on the Fringe – pick up a Booking Kit at selected Standard Bank branches or at Computicket – and book now. Fest 2008 promises a smorgasbord of treats, don’t miss out! Visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za or call 046 603 1163 for more info.

The National Arts Festival is proudly supported by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council.




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