The 2012 Main Theatre programme boasts two world premieres and a list of world-class productions at the 38th National Arts Festival, which runs from 28 June to 8 July in Grahamstown this year.
|Athol Fugard celebrates his 80th birthday in June, and the National Arts Festival joins in celebrating the life and work of this iconic playwright by presenting, with the Fugard Theatre and Mannie Manim productions, the world premiere of his newest play, The Blue Iris. A love story of tender and personal revelations with layers of emotional exchange, this glimpse at ghosts of the past reflects true Fugard brilliance. Directed by Janice Honeyman, it promises not to disappoint.|
|Hitting the Grahamstown stages before whizzing off to Austria, is the other world premiere, Trapped. Princess Zinzi Mhlongo (2012 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Drama), whose skills as a strong director have won her several accolades, will make her debut as a writer at this year’s Festival with this, her first play-script.|
|2011 SBYAA winner Neil Coppen continues to challenge the boundaries of contemporary South African theatre. He will collaborate with writer Craig Higginson and director Malcolm Purkey, in the creation of Higginson’s latest play, Little Foot. A multi-media event that promises to be a unique piece of storytelling, Little Foot will go on to be performed at the National Theatre in London prior to the 2012 Olympics.|
|Italian-based company Scarlettine Teatro takes their audience into the world of the comic book. Actors interact with the characters and become part of the story in the South African premiere of their multi-award winning production Manolibera.|
|From Durban, Independent theatre company Kickstart (by special arrangement with the Creative Artists Agency, New York) will present the South African premiere of John Logan’s 2010 Tony Award winning play, Red. Directed by Steven Stead, it explores the fascinating creative process and inner conflict of the famous American artist, Mark Rothko.|
|Sex, lies, class, race, shame and guilt take centre stage in the Playhouse Company’s production of David Mamet’s fast-paced play, Race, while Acclaimed South African-born director Yael Farber bares contemporary South African struggles in her explosive new adaptation of August Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie, set in the remote, bleak beauty of the Eastern Cape Karoo.|
|Voices Made Night, adapted from short stories by Mia Couto and directed by Mark Fleishman, will reflect Magnet Theatre’s orientation as a creative, innovative and sophisticated African theatre company. In I Love You When You’re Breathing the Handspring Puppet Company will give audiences the unique opportunity of seeing a puppet deliver a meta-theatrical address, using comedy and generous amounts of self-reflexive humour to give insight on the nature of puppetry, the process of creating life in the object, and the role of the audience in making meaning.|
|After the signing of an agreement between the governments of France and South Africa, the French/South African Season comes to life through performances by French artists and companies around the country in the second half of this year. A reciprocal arrangement will see South African work travel to France in 2013. The season kicks off in Grahamstown with the support of the French Institute in South Africa, the Embassy of France and the South African Department of Arts and Culture, and sees a number of productions across several genres premiering.|
When French theatre-maker Jean-Paul Delore met South African actors Nick Welsh and Lindiwe Mitshikiza, he knew they were going to find a middle ground through shared curiosities. Their first encounter in Johannesburg was a surrealistic experience at Ster City, an abandoned multiplexed cinema which was the source of inspiration for their work. In their play Ster City, two clowns create a compelling narrative for the past and very strong present of the city and, indirectly, the South African nation.
Theatre enthusiasts who are fond of solo theatre will enjoy the intimacy of a season of solo plays, which features five productions by some of South Africa’s best known writers, actors and directors.
|At the forefront of the solo programme is A Conversation with Pieter-Dirk EISH. In his journey from the old South Africa to the new, political hypocrisy has hardly ever escaped Uys’s perceptive eye. His courage, combined with his talent as a raconteur, has enabled him to tell uncomfortable political truths in a way that even those politicians who are the subjects of his satire have found themselves chuckling. In this unique production, Uys presents his life on stage, ever so transparently.|
|Bringing together four powerhouses of South African female talents: Dr Sindiwe Magona (writer of the original story upon which the play is based), Janice Honeyman (multi award-winning director), Thembi Mtshali-Jones (celebrated singer, actress and playwright) and Yvette Hardie (international producer, director and educator); Mother to Mother is a powerful story of forgiveness and reconciliation, based on the tragic killing of Amy Biehl.|
|Actor and writer Omphie Molusi was the first recipient of the Royal Shakespeare Company/Baxter Theatre Brett Goldin Award. His self-penned, one person play, Itsoseng is set in Itsoseng, a township in the North West province, which means “wake yourself up”. The play is a scathing indictment of government indifference, cynicism and incompetence in dealing with the people of the township. It won a Fringe First award at the Edinburgh Festival in 2008, receiving reviews that opened doors for performances at several international venues.|
|Set in contemporary South Africa, written by Nick Warren, directed by Jenine Collocott and performed by James Cunningham, Sunday Morning centres on a successful photographer who has his life exactly how he likes it – ordered, neat, and beautifully composed – until the day his girlfriend tells him she is pregnant. In an attempt to process this disturbing information he goes out for a run. Straying from his regular route, he ventures into a strange part of the city where he makes a gruesome discovery that changes everything.|
|Nicky Rebelo has adapted some of Herman Charles Bosman’s stories to create Jurie Steyn’s Post Office. David Butler again takes on the role of Bosman, as well as some of the eccentric characters that used to gather in Jurie Steyn’s voorkamer (reception-room), which also served as the local Post Office.|
|What would you do if you would feel that there is more potential in you than actually shows? What would you fantasise about? We all feel the urge once in a while to break free from the daily grind. In search of stimulus, in search of adventure, in search of taming the restlessness inside. Wacht! is a very funny performance, without words, for anyone who has ever dreamed of doing things differently. A performance that makes sure you’ll never walk through a museum without a grin again. A graduate of the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, Hiske Eriks has performed at numerous festivals in Europe and, most recently, Australia. Her performance in Grahamstown is part of the World Fringe Alliance’s global creative exchange programme.|