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FESTIVAL DIARY Ė JUNE 29 (article first published : 2003-06-30)

Another beautiful day in Grahamstown and one in which I didnít do much else other than see Pieter Dirk Uysís Auditioning Angels before taking some time off and heading down to Port Elizabeth to see my niece and her family.

Auditioning Angels is everything that Pieter Dirk-Uys has been saying for ages skillfully turned into a brilliantly-written and often-hilarious dramatic vehicle. His one-man shows Foreign Aids and For Facts Sake have provided a lot of the source material for this work which is produced by Pieter Toerien and currently playing the National Arts Festival before it goes on to have a season at the new Toerien theatre at Montecasino.

One of the most powerful images to turn around the general publicís approach worldwide to people living with HIV/AIDS was the photograph of Princess Diana kissing an AIDS victim.

In Auditioning Angels, there is the imagery of healthy people (the cast) holding babies dying of AIDS and actually getting involved in the process of doing something positive. A young girl is raped by someone with AIDS Ö or is it just a smokescreen for a sexual relationship with someone her own age? In hospitals battling to cope, if an AIDS baby is under 1kg, should you switch off the respirator because itís not going to make it anyway?

Itís happening, people! Live with it. Deal with it. Do what you can when and how you can Ė but donít ignore it. AIDS is not going to go away. This is Pieter Dirk-Uysís message.

Directed by Blaise Koch, Auditioning Angels is not a guilt-ridden, miserable table of woe but a vigorous and challenging production that stands on its own as an entertaining piece of theatre. The five member cast Ė Clive Scott, Paul du Toit, Thoko Ntshinga, Jo da Silva and Nandi Nyembe keep the text fast and pacey, always allowing Dirk-Uysís humour to come through.

Today saw the launch of Create SA which is behind a move to actively promote South Africaís artistic talent both socially and economically. Create SA is the Media Advertising, Publishing, Printing and Packaging Sector Education and Training Authorityís (MAPP-SETA) creative industries skills development programme which was started in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and is funded by the Department of Labourís national skills fund. - Caroline Smart




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