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

SUE CLARENCE (article first published : 2003-10-21)

Tempted as I am to defend all the shining stars of the Durban theatre world - internationally acclaimed Greig Coetzee, the brave and talented Greg King and his band of extraordinary performers, the cabaret singers who continually delight their audiences - against the vitriolic, uninformed and unintelligent attack on them by Aldo Brincat, and to introduce Brincat to the host of prolific playwrights in his city of whose existence he is patently totally unaware, this letter is primarily to put the record straight on behalf of Ellis Pearson and Bheki Mkhwane.

Pearson & Mkhwane, described by informed members of the media as “virtually a national treasure” are unique in their ability to bridge the sadly still-existing gap between black and white amongst audiences. It is quite astounding that a duo whom Brincat views as “long passed their sell-by date” are in constant demand throughout South Africa and in the last year alone in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, England, Ireland, Sweden, Swaziland and Belgium, with an eight week tour of Canada planned for May 2004.

Brincat appears to have it on the best authority that Pearson & Mkhwane’s productions are “usually written in the car on the way to Grahamstown”. This preposterous statement suggests a total lack of rehearsal. When I confronted him on this point he explained that it was made “with an element of jest”. There can be no accounting for sense of humour in some! Contrary to Brincat’s opinion the work created by Pearson & Mkhwane is thoroughly researched (for example, iLobolo involved consultation with Dr Marguerite Poland on her doctoral thesis), carefully written and rehearsed. Moreover, before they get anywhere near Grahamstown, Pearson and Mkhwane always have a six week season in schools in KZN and Gauteng.

Why then this attack on his colleagues? Is it perhaps the green eyed monster? Sour grapes? Why is it that Brincat is known as the “paupers’ Ellis Pearson”? Perhaps one can understand the remarkable similarities between Brincat’s King Kong and Pearson’s widely acclaimed performance in Frank ‘N Stein: even down to minutiae - the tooth brush moustache, the teaspoon monocle - were the brainchild of Pearson’s brilliant Monster. Stay in your sand pit, Cave Brat, you will be happier there.

Sue Clarence

One of the Women not worth Documenting




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