Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Sanjin Muftic

Right Out The Box

I did a triple feature of plays last night, to kick-start the Out The Box festival which began yesterday. So, really what I did was hang out at UCT’s Hiddingh (drama school) campus, which is the perfect place to have this kind of festival. Jaqueline Dommisse has done a fine job of putting this huge baby together, and I have to say that it feels very cohesive, even though two of the main venues are being used for un-festival stuff.

First up was Jonathan Khumbulani Nkala’s The Bicycle Thief, directed by Bo Petersen. Jonathan is a tall, skinny, smiley, affable Zimbabwean chap with a lovely voice. His show The Crossing (also directed by Bo) tells of his harrowing journey to South Africa from Zimbabwe. The Bicycle Thief is a fragment of Zimbabwean village life and growing up, with a strange South African beginning, and an even weirder (and quite abrupt) ending. Jonathan is engaging in a funny, awkward kind of way, Bo has done some brilliant things with costumes and props, making it visually interesting and exciting, but the story itself is unresolved and the whole thing is far too short, at just twenty minutes.

n272810571703_4098 Next up was Man Turn Life Up and Down, a visual theatre piece based on Nigerian popular writing. Sanjin Muftic directs poet/actress Primrose “Everywoman” Mrwebi, singer/actress Nobuhle “I am an Artist” Ketelo and actress Pumeza “Fleur du Cap Nominee” Rashe (I stole these classic definitions from the facebroek page), with animation and art stuff by Jon Keevy (Yawazzi). I was very excited by the idea of this production, and mostly it delivers. Three young, hot black African chicks, in a play about what it’s like to be a black chick; where old and new values collide, get mixed up, confused and are confusing. The styling is amazing and the three of them look fabulous and give great (if a little inconsistent) performances. The show is an exciting confusion of styles, music, naturalism, stylisation, comedy, physical theatre, superb visual animation and graphic drawing. Some of the scenes (like the quizz) are too long, drawn out and directionless, and others could be slightly developed and tightened up. My favourites were the bus story and the blues song. The show is going to G’town, and could do really well there if it is given a bit of a short back and sides. For a first, test run, I thought it was really fresh, original and pretty cool.

sindi After a delicious felafel and a glass of wine I went back to the Playroom to watch Nkosazana, a one-woman piece with Cindy Mkaza and directed by Leila Anderson. Of the three pieces I saw last night, this one is the most resolved, and therefore satisfying. Although I found the beginning and ending a little convoluted and over wrought, I really enjoyed everything else. Cindy is amazing. She is beautiful, funny, sensitive, cute, powerful and riveting. She has a lovely voice and superb physicality. I loved watching her. Leila’s costumes are absolutely phenomenal, magical, provocative and theatrical. Her simple set is beautiful too (although I wished the bed, the focal point of the stage, had been used more). I think this offering shouldn’t be missed.

So, as I left the campus last night I realised that although the three shows I’d seen were all quite different, they were unbelievably similar too. They all dealt with identity, culture, tradition and relationships. In a particularly black, African context. How refreshing. They all had moved past traditional theatre and storytelling (some more successfully than others) and were finding a new performance vocabulary. And they all gave a nod to the past and a glimpse into the future. Now that’s pretty cool.

The only thing I hated in all three productions was the playing of children. Ok, it is a pet hate of mine, but really, please, please, please! No more! I beg! No more cutesy high pitched voices and weird sideways arms.

The Out The Box festival runs this week at The Little Theatre Complex in Gardens and at The Baxter Theatre. It is a feast of visual theatre, films, puppetry, kid’s stuff, lectures and workshops, and all things visual/theatrical. I am delighted to be going to some of the stuff.

Shimmering Shadow of Brel

brel I went to Tabula Rasa (the laundromat by day theatre by night) last night to watch my friend and colleague Godfrey Johnson’s new show The Shadow of Brel. I was a little apprehensive; being a bit Brelled out. He has become the height of fashion lately; a trend started by Clare Watling and Godfrey himself as accompanist. I also know Brel very well. My father introduced me to him when I was about 12, and I loved his lyrics and the theatricality of his songs. I was introduced to politics, love, seediness, friendship, and that special European sentimentality that Jacques Brel was all about. I have seen many Brel shows and even movies. I know the words to most of the popular Brel songs.

So I really lucked out last night and was delighted by The Shadow of Brel. This one, directed by Sanjin Muftic, is a real goodie. It couldn’t be simpler. Godfrey, in shirt and tie, sits straight backed at the piano and sings Brel to his own masterful accompaniment. He has chosen a very good mix of songs, including the most popular ones like Carousel, If You Go Away and If We Only Have Love, but introducing a few most obscure and interesting and unusual songs like Next (my favourite), The Lockman, and Fannette.

Godfey was naturally a bit nervous last night, which made him take extra care. Once he settles in and relaxes I think he will let rip and the show will be a complete scorcher. A friend I was sitting next to said afterwards that Godfrey was ‘without artifice’ and I thought that that was a lovely way to describe the obvious simplicity and sincerity of this show. His voice and range are perfectly suited to the material, and his interpretations are from the heart, with deep understanding.

The venue is lovely and lends itself perfectly to this kind of intimate little cabaret. I loved the washing baskets turned over into tables. Yawazzi Fish (Jon Keevy and Sanjin), a newish and very exciting theatre company in Cape Town, are responsible for the staging of this show and the creation of a theatre space in Tabula Rasa, which is, really, a laundromat. The ability to do this successfully is brilliant. This kind of thinking is what makes me love Cape Town, but these teeny ventures have got to be supported to survive. It’s so easy to get there. If you are going down Roeland street, turn left at the set of robots into Canterbury street. Go past Ohrm’s  on your left. Tabula Rasa is on the opposite corner. This show is on until 20 Feb, and it’s a great one to get you there.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén