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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


(Photo by Brandon Celin: Donna Steel)

Multi-award winner Timberlake Wertenbaker’s provocative and enthralling The Love of the Nightingale will be staged at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from October 11 to 16, directed by Tamar Meskin and presented by the Honours class of UKZN Drama and Performance Studies.

“The play is exciting because it asks us to think out the box about men and women, the relationship between them, and particularly about the way we interact sensually and sexually,” says director Tamar Meskin.

The play is a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ lost play about the myth of Tereus, and tells the story of two close-knit Athenian sisters, Procne and Philomele who are separated by the spoils of war. After enduring years of hardship and torture: initiated by Tereus the King of Thrace, the two sisters are finally reunited during the annual pantomimed feast of Dionysus. However, their reunion is by no means all pleasant, as the women finally come to recognize the consequence of their questioning and the brutality of which men are capable.

Although dealing with issues of silence, power, lust and femininity, the play is nothing like a Greek tragedy as it has been completely adapted to fit a modern context, allowing the audience to understand the storyline easily and identify with the action shown on stage. The intention is to locate the play in present war-ruined Libya as well as the freely-associated West – in order to explore the differences between apparently confined societies and ones that claim to be expressive and open.

The performance is thriller-like, action packed and hard-edged – more Tarantino than Homer. It includes fast-paced stage combat fought by scantily-clad men, as well as a softer and sexier side which explores the intensive lust and desire deep inside all women.

The cast and crew is made up of UKZN Drama and Performance Studies honours students, and guest artist Rowin Munsamy with lighting design by Tina le Roux The students have also been tasked to engage with all elements of the production – costume, set, poster and puppet design; prop building; music composition; choreography; publicity, marketing and technical.

Great thought has gone into the look of the production: an abstract and impressionist set with the inclusion of a sandpit, complemented by costumes which include an adaption of the burka, doubled up to become a lot more revealing and risqué with the interchange of the two worlds.

Fascinating theatrics such as dance, puppetry, movement and imagery are all a part of the visual package, whilst customised music and beats, as well as colloquial language brimming with sexual innuendo, double meaning and poetic metaphor become a feast for the ears.

The Love of a Nightingale will be staged in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN campus from October 11 to 16 at 19h00 nightly. Tickets R40 (R20 students, pensioners and block bookings over 10). For more information, and to book, contact: Claudette Wagner - 031 260 3133.

NB: Please note the play is only suitable for viewers over the age of 16 owing to the sexual and violent nature of the play.