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NOT THE GRAHAMSTOWN FESTIVAL (article first published : 2001-06-1)

NOT the Grahamstown Festival is an annual event held at Durban High School. Originally created to allow Durban audiences to see productions headed for the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, it has now expanded to include cutting-edge and challenging works from local playwrights and theatre companies. From death-row cells to whacky whodunnits and 12-foot grannies to muscular poetry, the festival offers vibrant entertainment to suit all tastes. There are two performances a night - 19h00 and 21h00 - mainly held in the main hall with a smaller alternative venue on offer for those productions requiring a more intimate audience atmosphere.

June 4 (19h00): Comedy Shop features Krijay Govender, Kumseela Naidoo and Jayloshani Naidoo pitting their skills against Afzal Khan, Satchu Annamalai, Kaseran Pillay, Eubulus Tracy, Vivian Moodley, Bassey Bhola and Koobeshan Naidoo.

June 4 (21h00): Table Manners written and directed by Greg King (Popcorn and numerous Cellar adult pantomimes) offers an outrageous take-off of the classic whodunnit. The dazzling Miss Dina Devine is found murdered. As tensions rise and accusations fly, everything at the cast's disposal is employed to recreate the scene of the crime. Inspired by Agatha Christie it features the cream of Pietermaritzburg's up and coming talent.

June 5 (19h00): The Rope. From the pen of Dennis Rubin comes this blistering new stage play, featuring an astonishing performance by Michelle Driman. She has entered your deepest fear. She will now endure her last meal, manipulate her last conversation and deny her last saviour. Tomorrow the truth will be realised, but first she must survive tonight. The production goes on to perform at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

June 5 (21h00): Douglas Livingstone We Presume? Festival organisers challenge those who claim to be uninterested in poetry not to be moved and inspired by the muscular, humorous works of one of South Africa's finest poets. Also a must-see for anyone who loves the work of Douglas Livingstone. Featuring Caroline Smart, Peter Gardner and Patrick Collyer.

June 6 (19h00): Juan Burgers & Christopher Duigan Do Opera. Juan Burgers sings Korngold, Mozart - even Wagner - and others - to the skilful accompaniment by Christopher on the baby-grand. Juan has recently returned from a highly successful season in India and Malaysia and has been invited for a return visit. Prepare for poetry in music by two of KZN's top artists.

June 6 (21h00): Jimmy Time. An emotional journey told through the experiences of a death-row prisoner: an exploration of the psyche of a luckless soul living in an unforgiving society. Written by Michael Broderick and directed by Catherine, it features Theatre-for-Africa's Esmael Teixeira. This show is not for the faint-hearted (suggested 16 and over).

June 7 (19h00): King Kong. A spoof on old movie classics - a film producer takes his starlet to a mysterious island in search of a mythical giant ape, and the events that follow. Festival director, Aldo Brincat and Michael Gritten will stage this multi-million dollar budget movie with little more than a bucket and a tea spoon. Directed by Peter Court.

June 7 (21h00): Urban Landscape. The breathtaking combination of two of Durban's finest musical talents - Nibs van der Spuy and Brendan Jury - will play tracks from Urban Creep, Transky, Ohm and Nibs's solo album Lines on My Face. Book early - this is going to be a great drawcard.

June 8 (19h00): The Hole. A two-hander comedy about a warden who wants to change the world, a prisoner with a bad attitude, and a pair of jocks who turn the prison upside down. This devilish dark comedy features Santhiran Moonsamy and award winner Tyron Akal and is directed by Tamar Meskin.

June 8 (21h00): Rewind 2 Blu. Shireen James chartes exciting territory with her new spunky cabaret featuring the pleasing voices of Monique Hebrad and Natalie Toyne. From a pendulum of acerbic dialogue, this cabaret swings between moody blues to rosy hues with a balance of jazz, show standards and contemporary pop.

June 9 (10h00): Marvellous Mixtures. There's a 12 foot granny on the loose and she's heading for your school! Written and directed by Neil Coppen who performs together with Kasia Stempowski, this visual fireworks display is styled on a story by Roald Dahl. A zany array of characters are bought to life, from the neurotic chickens to other wacky farm animals.

June 9 (19h00): The House Husband. For those who saw Aldo Brincat's hilarious comedy for the first time at the NOT Fest (and for those who never saw it at all) here's a chance to see how a year's presentation "out in the field", as it were, has shaped its growth. This is a witty, insightful, funny and moving play about a South African couple trying to start a new life in Canada - an absolute must-see!

June 9 (21h00): Cabaret on the Couch. The final production of the festival features the multi-talented Mari Visagie in a highly amusing and satirical look at the state of cabaret. This production has had successful runs at the Royal Hotel's Backstage, the Square Space Theatre and at Bella Vista in Botha's Hill. Matthew Vlok plays the piano and Di Byrne sings, dances and looks great in some wacky costumes.

Tickets booked through Computicket or R20 at the door. Grab a light meal between the shows from the new DHS coffee bar, Live Poet's Society! Take time to view some of the fine art on show between performances.




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