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Saturday, July 4, 2015


(Reviews from the artSMart team currently in Grahamstown at the 2015 National Arts Festival)

Captivating South African adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s short story. (Review by Khinali Bagwandeen)

The Student Programme of the National Arts Festival provides a platform for students to showcase their performances. This year, directors of the pieces performed by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) chose to emphasize the themes of their productions on social issues which have vastly changed the lives of those around us.

Performed by students from UKZN Pietermaritzburg, The Match Girl is a captivating South African adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s short story, The Little Match Girl.

The story is told through the eyes of a young girl who loses the only person who has ever displayed love and affection in her life, her gogo.  After this loss, she sets out into the city for what she expected to be a better life but comes face to face with the flaws of the human race, whilst trying to sell boxes of matches. She gradually watches her dreams pass by once she realises her fate.

The powerful cast of five guides the audience through a journey of realisation. Thus accentuating the issues of poverty and suffering together with selfishness and voracity. In addition to this, director Jessica Killerby succeeded in highlighting the fact that society has familiarized itself with poverty and what comes with it - to the extent that we view it as a neutral aspect of being.

The story and its purpose is confidently expressed through a synthesis of shadow play, physical theatre, performance art, mask work and puppetry. The simplicity of this combination was a positive surprise to me. – Khinali Bagwandeen