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LOCALS GO INTERNATIONAL (article first published : 2002-06-2)

Durban’s director-playwright Jerry Pooe, of Ekhaya Poppie fame and his talented, 12-member Eager Artists Theatre Company will be performing a play about HIV/AIDS, in collaboration with a Dutch theatre group, at this year’s Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Titled Free Beds this production will feature a cast of 20 and has been designed to highlight the importance of family and friends caring for people diagnosed as HIV-positive.

“We got the chance to put the production together when the Dutch company, The Waterhuis Theatre Company from Amsterdam, visited Durban in February as part of a South African tour to find local talent,” said Pooe. The Dutch group attended a production of Pooe’s play about Aids, One Life to Live, and snapped up the company for Free Beds.

After the Grahamstown performance of Free Beds, it will visit Holland with the Durban cast. This is likely to be in April next year, says Pooe, who adds that his theatre company will also be visiting the United States again, for the fifth time, from September to December this year.

This American tour will highlight another new Eager Artists Theatre Company production, a musical-drama titled Mine Ghosts, created and directed by Pooe. It is a lively celebration and examination of life in a mining community, showcasing isicathamiya and gumboot dancing.

The company has been invited to tour by the University of Buffalo in New York and will perform at the campus theatre there, as well as at campus theatres in Michigan and Minneapolis.

While in the US, the Durban group will also stage a production of The Island for the Irish Theatre Company in Buffalo, and will present a school programme centred on African dance and music. It will also tour American communities with a new children’s play, Skhebe Skhebe and the Naughty Kids, which Gerry hopes to stage at a Durban venue at a later date.




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