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SUMMER AT SPIER (article first published : 2001-11-18)

From November 15 the Spier Summer Arts Festival in the Cape will lift the lid on six months of entertaining, provocative and fun-filled events for the whole family.

A full-blown Christmas pantomime RooiKoppitjie is based on the Red Riding Hood story but set in the Boland where the Big Bad Wolf is the local mayor chasing his sweet innocent PA and the handsome hero is a young Stellenbosch wine farmer. This panto with all its trad characters but in the Kaapse taal offers award-winning director Marthinus Basson plenty of scope for his imagination and daring sense of humour. He'll be aided and abetted by the comic actress Shaleen Surtee-Richards.

A January season of three operas will be staged in collaboration with Cape Town Opera and the Cape Philharmonic and supported by the Western Cape Cultural Commission and Artscape. These are Mozart's The Magic Flute specially adapted for the lyrical ambience of the Spier Amphitheatre. Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Puccini's all-time favourite opera of devotion and desertion, Madama Butterfly.

A February fortnight entitled Kings and Queens of Africa will focus on music icons of Africa. South Africa's Abdullah Ibrahim and the legendary Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal will star in separate performances to showcase their styles. On the two gala nights, February 15 and 16, these greats will come together with singer Sathima Bea Benjamin and the band Ekaya for nights of memorable music-making. Sathima is Ibrahim's wife and a big name in her own right.

An innovative theatrical "double bill" takes a look at the threatened Afrikaner male from two perspectives, the serious and the comic. Both plays are produced by Vleis, Rys and Aartappels, a company founded by Marthinus Basson, Saartjie Botha and Jaco Bouwer.

With performances on March 7, 8 and 9, Aars! is a study of the Oresteaia written by promising young Belgian writer Peter Verhelst in collaboration with Luk Perceval. The top cast includes Dawid Minnaar and Antoinette Kellerman. Spanner on February 27 and 28 as well as March 1 and 2 is the flip side of the issues written from the feminine perspective by Saartjie Botha. The title of her comedy comes from the setting - a garage where four white Afrikaner males, led by broke and jobless Boet Marais, are bemoaning their struggle in today's changed world and the plan that will make Boet rich.

Moya Wa Sechaba - Spirit of the Nation from December 5 to 8 is a multi-media spectacle directed by Jazzart's Alfred Hinkel and choreographed by Sbonakaliso Ndaba and Sifiso Kweyama. With Janine Neethling as musical director, the show includes Jazzart Dance Theatre company, members of the Zip Zap Circus and guest stars soprano Sibongile Khumalo and her violinist son Tshepo Mngoma.

A Spirit of Place, the Spier Craft expo, opens with a grand switching on of the Christmas lights on December 5 and will run through December and January. It will include exhibitions, live demonstrations, interactive workshops, retreats and master classes.

The Spier Outdoor Sculpture Biennial, in conjunction with the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, runs from January to March next year under the banner of Public Eye. About 10 artists whose proposals have been chosen will be contracted to create sculptures for installation from mid-November up to the second week of January when the exhibition will be opened.

The Spier Vintage Train runs to Spier on selected performance dates throughout the season. Book through Computicket or 021 809-1165/77/78




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