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Monday, June 28, 2010


(Pic by Terrence Mtola / TAB Images: Mlu Zondi in Cinema)

Mlu Zondi sets Grahamstown Festival a-talking! (Review by Caroline Smart)

Mlu Zondi – proudly from KZN and this year’s winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance - has always aimed to create across disciplines and is well-known for breaking boundaries. He has certainly caused a stir in Grahamstown with his production, Cinema which is described as a 5D Multi-media experience.

The audience enters the Transnet Great Hall where there is not a chair in sight, only three large squares – one orange, one blue and one yellow - painted on the floor, which is covered with bubblewrap. High above on the four walls of the venue are video screens which feature black and white footage. I discover later, that three of them feature Mlu’s productions Incognito, Silhouette and Vertigo. The fourth – a staring, blinking Mlu - is taken from Mirage.

On each square is a colour-coded character - Yellow, Orange and Blue. They will remain in those squares, trapped as it were, throughout the show. The only person who makes a significant journey across the stage is a fourth figure – Green (Mlu Zondi himself) – who stands for much of the time, bare-chested with bowed head. He wears a green metallic wig and loose pantaloons. He is also shackled with LED lights around his neck, waist and ankles.

The audience is free to stand and move around during the performance or sit on the floor. This is covered with bubblewrap, a device Zondi has often used in the past. This of course, is an open invitation for those who– infuriatingly! - like nothing better than to pop the bubbles! However, the rest of us sit fairly well behaved with only the slightest crackle when we shift positions. Meanwhile, Mlu blinks on from the video screen.

Mlu’s vision is this. We are seeing through the mind of Green. Yellow (Sanele Mzinyane), Orange (Thulisile Khumalo) and Blue (Dumisile Mqadi) are his subconscious thoughts, his past life. They represent Masculinity; Mistress and Wailing Wife.

Yellow exhibits much power play, knobkerrie in hand, once he stirs from his stillness. Orange is full of movement in her small performing area - she struts, she flirts, she poses provocatively. Resplendent in sequinned ball-gown, her head and face are veiled - Blue keeps up a steady lament. And Mlu blinks on. (Review by Caroline Smart)