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Thursday, January 19, 2012


(Pic by Rodney Prynne: Best Performer: Wiseman Mncube in Samson Mlambo’s “Meet Bro Six Two”)

A thrilling success! The seventh annual Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) Musho! International Theatre Festival of One and Two Person Theatre was a resounding success – with capacity houses, standing ovations and great feedback.

Every January at the Catalina Theatre, an innovative theatre festival is held to kick start the theatre year. This year Musho! featured 16 productions over five days, all celebrating the art of the one and two-performer plays.

There were a host of festival firsts this year – for the first time critical awards were presented by a panel of judges to the best original work and the best performer. Judges Roel Twijnstra from the Twist project; reviewer, writer and theatre practitioner Gisele Turner and PANSA’s Grant Jacobs saw all productions on the programme and selected the best script and the best performer based on pre-determined criteria.

The award for Best Original Script, sponsored by the Durban website Going Places, went to the beautifully-crafted two-hander physical theatre piece, Les Pigeons; and the best performer, sponsored by theatre supporter Lindi Drummond’s LTJ Travel, went to Wiseman Mncube who performed in the poignant and personal Meet Bros Six-Two by Samson Mlambo. The Suliman family who have supported the festival from its outset, have donated a floating trophy which is awarded to their favourite production. This year it went to the fun comedy-dance production, Big Boys Don’t Dance.

Every audience member participates in an Audience Favourite Award by voting after every production. This year the favourite production was Meet Bros Six-Two by Durban writer and PANSA intern, Samson Mlambo – who was an usher at the festival!

The most exciting first for this year was the number of times the “sold out” sign was displayed at box-office. Never before has Musho! enjoyed so many capacity audiences. Another first was a production was “signed” for the benefit of deaf and hearing-impaired patrons. Odette Swift, a sign language interpreter, signed during Bru: a lively physical theatre piece with a surfing theme. Approximately 30 hearing impaired patrons were in the audience.

The festival includes six Twist Theatre Development Project shows mentored and supported by experienced theatre-makers such as Bheki Mkhwane, Vice Motshabi, Themi Venturas, Edmund Mhlongo, Debbie Lutge, Jerry Pooe and Neil Coppen.

Themi Venturas sponsored a prize for Best Twist Performer which was shared between Vumani Khulamo from A Bull Called Bahlangane (Big Brotherhood Production), and Snelisiwe Radebe from Seed (Umsindo Theatre Group). The Judges made special mention of the high quality of The Seed.

Another exciting first is the generosity of the visiting Dutch company who performed a festival highlight – Dancing on Your Grave. They are handing over their production to one of the Twist groups, Umsindo Theatre Group, and will work with them for two weeks to workshop a local version of their production which Umsindo can then perform. This innovative collaboration adds a new dimension to the sustainability and impact of the Musho! Festival.

Tristan Jacobs – one of the creators and performers in Les Pigeons – ran a physical theatre masterclass for interested actors which was attended by 60 people.

Musho! – Zulu for an enthusiastic praise response, something similar to “Bravo!” - embraces all accepted forms of theatre: from mime to physical theatre, drama to comedy-theatre. This year the organisers were particularly prudent in ensuring an even mix representing all theatrical genres.

“We had a fabulous festival!” enthused festival director, Emma Durden. “It felt particularly dynamic this year, as the audiences were so wonderful: we had an interesting mix of people seeing all our shows and there was always a buzz at the theatre! There was great energy around the festival this year and the brand of Musho! seems to have been firmly established on the theatre landscape. It is also affirming when the out-of-town performers tell us of the generosity and warmth of the Durban audiences, and the wonderful warm response they receive at Musho! I would also like to acknowledge the incredible support from the PANSA team of volunteers, and the staff of the Catalina.”

The festival is organised by PANSA KZN, the Performing Arts Network of South Africa, with support from The Daily News, BASA and Ethekwini Municipality. The Twist productions are supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture.

For reviews and information about the Musho! Festival, visit