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Tuesday, August 21, 2012


(The “original” Rhythm Dudes - Faca Kulu and Thabani Mahlobo – with director Caroline Smart and assistant director Pauline Dalais. In front is the cast of the Zulu version: Simo Buthelezi and Philani Muthwa with company manager Sithenjwa Mbele in the middle)

Feel the rhythm of this Smart production. (Review by John Harley)

My first visit to Stable Theatre was a most pleasurable and educational one, indeed!

Sponsored by Ilanga Newspaper, Rhythm Dudes is a production created essentially for school children. It takes the format of a T.I.E. (Theatre-in-Education) presentation and is being introduced into the schools via three different phases. The performance I saw marked the close of Phase #1 progressing towards 25 performances for schools of Ilanga Newspaper's choice, these performances to take place at Stable Theatre.

Caroline Smart, who wrote and directed the piece, came up with an idea for a production dealing with rhythm to kickstart Stable Theatre's schools educational programme. The show's underlying theme is that working together efficiently, by means of good rhythm, makes for a strong sense of harmony in all aspects of one's personal and professional lives.

From the very outset, one is immediately aware that the audience is to play an integral part in the overall proceedings; ie no theatre lights, with the audience fully lit, and the actors just casually mixing with the audience. The pleasant, loose atmosphere is further enhanced by the director starting it all off with a chat about the historical background of the theatre and outlining the main focus of this theatrical venture. She also steps on stage smartly at the end of the show to lead the actors in the final rhythmic sequence in a most deft manner~ a very nice touch, indeed!

Do not expect the usual plot, characters, set, lighting and costumes with this production. It consists much more of a very informal, fun interaction between two actors and their audience. The whole show is really driven by audience participation~ learning about rhythm, what it is and can be, and how it can spill over in many diverse ways in our daily lives.

It would have been exciting for me to have seen this show with a house full of children. Only then, I think, could one evaluate its full impact.

The two actors – Faca Kulu and Thabani Mahlobo - equipped themselves well in their task which is to keep the energy flowing and their audience fully involved!

A suggestion might be to include more movement in the rhythmic sequences – Faca Kulu moved particularly well during the rhythms and some of these movements could have been passed onto the audience. Somehow one feels rhythm and movement just belong together! Once in a school hall, it would of course be easier to facilitate. I also believe that the two actors could have created greater visual impact for their audience if they themselves had danced together to some of the rhythms - again creating more interest and excitement for their audience, and at the same time displaying more of their own performance skills.

All in all, a most enjoyable and educational hour's worth of entertainment. It is highly recommended, especially for schoolchildren of various ages! There will also be a run of Rhythm Dudes at Stable Theatre over the October school holidays. – John Harley

Rhythm Dudes is available for schools performances at Stable Theatre – contact Phindile Phungula of Ilanga Newspapers on 076 205 2293 or contact Caroline Smart on 082 892 3959. The production is supported by Business & Arts South Africa.