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Tuesday, July 9, 2013


(Pic by Bazil Raubach)

Visual presentation offers a unique fusion of Japanese and South African forms of theatre and art. (Review by Keith Millar)

P J Olivier Afrikaans High School is situated on the ridge above Grahamstown and has striking views of the city. It is also the location of the National Arts Festival venue dubbed PJ’s. This was the home of the Rhodes University Drama Department’s production, Hanamichi.

Defined as Physical Theatre, Hanamichi is a visual presentation which is a unique fusion of Japanese and South African forms of theatre and art.

Based on the poem Thought Fox by Ted Hughes it is about the poet himself and his efforts to write his next great piece of literature. As he struggles with the composition he is, in his imagination, constantly being distracted by a cheeky fox with which he exchanges insults. This is a reference to the traditional Japanese form of theatre, called Noa, which always reflects an interplay between a chief actor (Shite), in this case the fox, and a subordinate (Waki), who is Hughes.

Hanamichi starts with a pre-recorded voice dramatically reciting the poem Thought Fox. These are the last words that are heard as the story is related through the physical and fluid movements of the actors as they move about the stage.

The result is a playful and intricate visual display which is not without humour.

The actors are accompanied by two musicians who sit on a bench in the corner throughout and play a flute and a djembe drum. This represents a Hayashi which is a Japanese music group used in theatre. One assumes that the djembe drum is used to add an African influence.

Featuring the talents of Sandi Dlangalala, Ananda Paver and Kamogelo Molobye, Hanamichi was directed by Tristan Jacobs who also devised the work along with the cast. Design is by Gavin Krastin and Jesika Kilian.

Hanamichi was interesting in its own way. However, I thought it was fairly self-indulgent and possibly relevant only to other drama students. I am not sure that the average theatre goer would enjoy this production. – Keith Millar