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NOT THE GRAHAMSTOWN FESTIVAL (article first published : 2008-06-17)

In preparation for the annual National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown, a selection of the productions heading off to the Eastern Cape will be staged at the Catalina Theatre in Wilson’s Wharf from June 18 to 22 under the banner of NOT The Grahamstown Festival.

The NOT The Grahamstown Festival was staged annually by Aldo Brincat and Illa Thompson at DHS to provide the performers an opportunity to stage their productions prior to going to Grahamstown. It also allowed Durban theatre audiences a sneak preview of some of the shows heading off to the country’s foremost national arts festival.

This idea has been resurrected by Catalina Theatre boss Themi Venturas and the season moves to the Catalina Theatre just prior to the performers heading off to the Eastern Cape.

A line-up of interesting Durban productions are on offer. On June 18 at 20h00 is Wild and Fragrant, a comedy drama written and performed by Barbie Meyer and directed by Bets Basson. Slipping in and out of clothes and characters Barbie Meyer gives a delicious taste of Herman Charles Bosman’s hilarious stories and life capturing everything from Bosman’s hard bull-denim pants of solitary confinement and the raw nakedness of Africa, to his sensual women of the veld. Wild and Fragrant returns to Durban for a short season at the Rhumbelow Theatre from July 25 to 27.

On June 19 at 20h00, Darren King and Clare Mortimer stage their astonishing physical theatre piece – From My Point of View by masterful British theatre-maker and writer, Steven Berkoff. In 2005 Darren King and Clare Mortimer took what was a short story by Berkoff and made it into a one act play. From My Point of View contains all the elements of performance the two most enjoy exploring and tells a story begging to be shared. The play weaves the evocative beauty and explosive language so true of Berkoff’s work with a physical edge. From My Point of View can also be seen at the Rhumbelow Theatre from June 20 to 22. This production is best suited for adult audiences.

Stone Angel by Kobus Moolman can be seen on June 20 and 21. It was the regional winner and joint national winner of the NLTDF / PANSA Festival of Contemporary Theatre Readings of New Writing last year. Clare Mortimer directs this compelling lyrical and moody work performed by Josette Eales and Janna Ramos Violante and Ewok. It tells the story of two enormously complex women who are separated by more than a hundred years but have a connect ion between them. Part theatre, bio-pic, part historical drama, part ghost story - the script weaves stories of past and present together and in so doing examines our interpretations of historical events which over time have become folk lore and national myth. As part of the competition’s prize, PANSA is assisting financially with the Grahamstown staging of the production.

On June 22 will be Many Happy Returns – one of the success stories from this year’s Musho! Festival of one and two person theatre. 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. Many Happy Returns is devised and performed by Sean de Klerk and Danielle Perlman.

Tickets R50 (R25 for scholars and pensioners) with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sundays at 18h00). Sundays For more information or to book, contact the Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889. Tickets also available from Strictly Tickets.

The Catalina Theatre is still functioning thanks to the generosity and support of Rainbow Chicken.




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