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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Award winning performer, Janna Ramos-Violante joins Durban local entrepreneur, Lauren Wallet to bring an exciting new venture to Durban, the inaugural I ♥ Durban Theatre Festival taking place on the UKZN Howard College Campus from October 28 to 30.

This weekend-long cultural celebration, supported by KickstArt, includes thought-provoking theatre, magical children’s shows, a funky craft market, live music and delicious cuisine at this brilliant new platform to celebrate Durban’s talent. Festival goers can sit under fairy-lit trees, sipping wine, children can run amok in the gardens, while jazz fills the air in this relaxing environment.

Janna Ramos–Violante shares her passion for the stage by creating this festival. Having recently performed at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, she was extremely aware of the phenomenal talent that Durban has to offer: “Our 031 performers yet again were the toast of the festival, I thought it was a pity that Durbanites that couldn’t travel down to Grahamstown, didn’t have the possibility of seeing these wonderful performances. Lauren and I boldly decided to create this festival which slots nicely into the Durban theatre calendar.”

The surroundings of the University’s Drama Department lend themselves beautifully to festival vibes. The organisers are staging seven plays, of which three are premiering at the festival.

Callum’s Will: A comedy drama written and directed by Janna Ramos-Violante. The show stars Darren King and Clinton Small and explores the touching relationship between two men with very different backgrounds in the realistic style Ramos-Violante is becoming known for. Set in a London Council Estate in the early 90s, the story follows Callum, an ex-ballet dancer (played by King) and his journey to find peace after a car accident has left him crippled. Will, (played by Small) a young wannabe writer from the wrong side of the tracks, helps Callum in this growth. The story’s beauty lies in the unlikely bond that develops between these two very different men. Tickets R80 (PG 13)

Birdman: A drama written and directed by Marc Kay starring Adam Dore. It is the fictionalised account of a con-artist turned-pioneering aviator in the late 1800s. Augustus St. John Merriweather, who wishes to build a machine capable of manned human flight ... at least that’s what he’s telling everyone. We follow him in lecture halls, post offices and his laboratory as he works towards conning sponsors into investing in a steam-powered glider that will reshape human history, or his own. Throughout the play - as he relates his trials and troubles in getting the rich to part with their money, and the glider to work - he builds the contraption on stage, and relates his own history to his sister Rebecca offstage, speaking of his dreams to get away with the gift of the century. Tickets R80. (PG13)

Prodigal: A deftly plotted modern classic written by Lorraine Knox and directed by Dani Marais, the play follows the tale of a young Eastern Cape farm boy as he decides to leave home and seek his fortune in the fast-paced city of Jo’burg, South Africa. Snappy dialogue, split-second character changes, strong physical acting and innovative directing enables one man to bring a fantastic cast of characters to life. From a story-telling Xhosa woman to a morally dubious Middle-Eastern restaurant owner to an opinionated professor to a shady gangster, Redpath’s vocal and physical dexterity takes the audience on a roller-coaster ride of pride, prejudice and sacrifice. Don’t miss this neatly plotted and superbly written classic for the modern age. Tickets R80 (PG13)

Shikaland!: A one-woman show written and performed by award winning actress Shika Budhoo and directed by Dhaveshan Govender. Shika-Land! shows the lives of five different women all named Shika! Each Shika allows us a glimpse into ‘her’ world. All the while posing the question ‘does our name fit our character or does our character fit our name’? These women’s stories will take you on a rollercoaster of emotion, shedding tears one moment, and roaring with laughter in the next. Tickets R80.(PG16)

Children’s Theatre Line-up: Creative Madness. After the huge success of A Mariners Tale (The Mercury Durban Theatre Awards – Best Children’s Production / Best Direction / Best Performances 2010) and The Curious cabinet and mysterious memorabilia of Mr Goitch: an antiquated history, Creative Madness (Peter Court & Bryan Hiles) are back with three new productions. They are joined this year by Liesl Coppin and Daisy Spencer in a roller-coaster ride of riotous theatre for everyone from 5 to 505. Tickets for the Children’s Shows are R50 pp and are available through Computicket or at the door.

Their three new productions are:

Rumplestiltskin (50min): Liesl Coppin, Peter Court and Bryan Hiles. Written and directed by Peter Court, this is an imaginative and Grimm re-telling of one of the darkest of fairy tales. “…. It was used as a warning to children who stayed out after bedtime and as a threat to those who wouldn’t eat their greens. “Rumple will get you,” they were told by their elders…” Told with Creative Madness’s combination of style and charm including masks, puppets and fantastical fairy-tale scenery.

A Froggy Fairy Tale (50min). A silly and side-splitting re-telling of The Frog Prince with masks, puppets and lots of silly humour. Starring Bryan Hiles and Daisy Spencer, written and directed by Peter Court. Bombast & Gusto travel the world looking for an audience to tell their version of The Frog Prince and when they find you… It’s very, very Froggy!!!

The Great Big Enormous Turnip (30min): An old Russian fairy-tale about a little old man (Liesl Coppin) and a little old woman (Daisy Spencer) who never see eye to eye… Never work together… Never talk nicely to each other… Until… a great big enormous turnip begins growing in their back garden. Pulling it out will take co-operation and skill and getting rid of it… a lot of chewing and some fairy magic!!! Written and directed by Peter Court.

October 28: 17h00 Birdman (Square Space Theatre): 18h00 Shikaland (Studio 5 Theatre); 19h15 Callum’s Will (Square Space Theatre) and 20h15 Prodigal (Studio 5 Theatre)

October 29: 10h00 Froggy Fairytales (Open Air Grass Gardens); 11h15 Great Enormous Turnip (Open Air Grass Gardens); 12h00 Rumplestiltskin (Open Air Grass Gardens); 14h00 Callum’s Will (Square Space Theatre); 17h00 Birdman (Square Space Theatre); 18h30 Prodigal (Studio 5 Theatre), and 20h00 Shikaland (Studio 5 Theatre)

October 30: 10h00 Froggy Fairytales (Open Air Grass Gardens); 11h15 Great Enormous Turnip (Open Air Grass Gardens); 12h00 Rumplestiltskin (Open Air Grass Gardens); 14h00 Prodigal (Studio 5 Theatre); 16h00 Birdman (Studio 5 Theatre), and 18h00 Shikaland (Studio 5 Theatre)

The inaugural I ♥ Durban Theatre Festival takes place at UKZN Howard College Drama Campus from October 28 to 30. For more information contact Rowan Bartlett at Publicity Matters on 072 345 6605 or Janna Ramos-Violante at