It’s blatantly obvious that I’m not in Grahamstown this year, and I can’t say I’m too sorry. It always seemed like a bit of a stretch doing 17 days of (oh dear theatre gods please let it be) “amazing”. And from what it sounds like, opening on a Sunday is a bit like smoking in the shower; a bad idea, not worth the effort. But the one thing about those at the fest is their eternal optimism and hope that it will get better, coupled with the hit-or-miss possibility that you might have an unexplainable success on your hands! But my dear friend Simon Cooper is there, flying the flag, and he is going to be high-jacking meganshead for as long as I let him, with his thoughts and feelings about the Grahamstown fest of twentyten.
Here are his first impressions.
Thoughts of a Â festino/producer :
Grahamstown 2010! The first 2 days are Â done. Not a lot of people around as yet. There is a Â growing view that perhaps the decision to start on a sunday was not good. But there is something of a buzz about. Hope it Â grows.
My play, “London Road” [Robyn Scott and Ntombi Makhutshi – Â directed by Lara Bye – Princess Alice daily at 12h00], performed at 12h00 Â Sunday for the first time at the fest – about 20 people but a great Â reception. Â Monday saw the audience treble and a winner of a review in Â the cue 50 words section – “seldom is such theatrical brilliance seen on the Â fringe”. Â Â Triple yah. Â Â Cue is playing ball so far Â – yesterday they followed Robyn as she transforms from a 37 year old to a 75 Â year old and we hoping for a splash in cue today or Â tomorrow.
Saw “Backstory” – a new piece by dancer and Â physical theatre guy, Craig Norris and Barry Strydom. Not Â bad but needs serious work and again raises the question of whether Â performers should be allowed to bring work to the fest that is not Â quite performance ready and run it in? Â “Backstory” is based around Â the theory of evolution and takes the from of a lecture to an erudite Â academic body. Â Â Barry Strydom, the guy who plays the prof Â delivering the lecture, should be replaced – he plays as if he is a little Â boy being clever – he’s trying to be the hyper-intelligent but naive Â academic but no he is puerile. Â Â He does however give Craig the Â scope to play around with man’s development and learning process.
Also Â saw an older piece that i had not seen before, Sharleen Surtie-Richards’ Â “Shirley Valentyn” – standing ovation. Â I loved it but then I love that Â local cape humour which is used so effectively in this translated Â performance.
Woke up monday feeling tired already but a Â cup of coffee later and that indomnitable festino sprit coursed thru my Â veins and i am ready to face the next day of shows. Â Â First up was Â “Skrapnel” [written by Willem Anker, featuring Marcel van Heerden, Â Andrew Thompson and Jenine Groenewald, directed by Jaco Bouwer]. Â Â Â This play got a huge write up in cue on monday but left me and I think most Â of the audience wondering what it was about. Â Â Very wordy, very Â long, very boring.
Then Craig Morris again Â with “Blood Orange” – physical theatre, well performed and entertaining but Â it tells of a white boy growing up in pre 1994 south africa and one is left Â with the feeling of “oh boy – not again”. Â Â Greig Coetzee’s “white Â men with weapons” springs to mind. Â Â Lastly another Afrikaans Â piece badly attended – this is bad : the organisers are trying hard to Â attract more Afrikaans theatre to what is primarily an English language Â event and people don’t go. Â Â 18 + 2 performers + 5 photographers Â in a theatre holding 277. Â Â Nee wat mense !!! Â Â “Dinsdae Â by Morrie” [Chris van Niekerk & Pedro Kruger : translated and directed Â by Hennie van Greunen] is a great piece concenring the relationship between Â a student and “that” teacher [prof actually] who changes your Â life. Â Â Gently humourous, attractive and quite Â insightful. Â Â Well worth seeing and I hope more people Â do.
The thrid day dawns – too Â much red wine last night with old friend. Koffie en courage – we Â hit the well travlled road to Grahamstown.
I’m not feeling jealous yet!