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Friday, July 1, 2016


(Wanda Zuma & Sandile Magwaza)

Excerpts from productions showcased by the Playhouse Company. (Reviews by Priya Dala)

The Playhouse Company are supporting various theatre practitioners to help them stage their work at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown from June 30 to July 10. 

“We at The Playhouse Company strongly believe in supporting artists and assisting them to showcase and develop their work in a professional context,” said The Playhouse Company CEO and Artistic Director, Ms Linda Bukhosini. “This is why we are supporting a number of artists to take their work to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year.

Excerpts from the productions were showcased at the Playhouse and I was able to catch a few of them:

Aspire Arts, an exciting new Durban-based theatre organisation, showcased three stand-out productions: Denuded Thoughts, Boy Ntulikazi and Asazi.

Denuded Thoughts: Written by Samantha Sameinstein Tobela and Wanda Zuma is a brave and thoughtful piece bringing in aspects of humour and energy production to the serious world of mental illness as seen from the point of view of a psychiatrist, who is clearly troubled by a dark history. psychiatrist who is waiting for patients to book consultations at his small, private practice.  As it becomes apparent to him that potential patients are not going to come, he starts talking to the audience. As the conversation with the audience continues, he starts interacting with imaginary characters who enter his office. These include a sexually-excited priest, a suicidal and drag queen, and a prisoner who holds the psychiatrist hostage in his own rooms. All these characters exist within the Doctor’s troubled mind, bringing forward aspects of his buried secrets, and his resolution eventually comes in the form of a confession that shocks as much as it heals.

Boy Ntulikazi: This one-hander examines the theme of mental illness again, and also takes it from the angle that there is always a deep back-story to those that we deem “mad” or “crazy”. Written and performed by the riveting Thobane Nzuza, it tells the story of a young man kept in a mental hospital. As he sits on his hospital bed, he tells the audience of how he went looking for his father and how finding him changed him forever. The production did exceptionally well at the UHURU festival in Wushwini, and took audiences on an exciting journey of emotions and intrigue. Nzuza is a formidable stage performer with a powerful stage presence. His finely-crafted physical performance is accompanied by live music played by musical maestro, Nhlanhla Zondi.

Asazi:  a beautifully presented, very nouveau piece of experimental theatre by the young writer, Mnqobi Msimanga. You are immediately drawn into the tale of that speaks of the dichotomy of old world vs the new order in a rapidly changing South African landscape. Msimanga plays an old grandfather travelling through the desert with his grandson, played by Anele Nene. The old man has left the so-called civilized world that he views as corrupt. The production showcases the prowess of the performers who play these two characters separated by two generation gaps. They use voice and body to defy their real ages in creating a parable about not forgetting how insightful old people are. Both performers seamlessly transform into a host of characters, and even though they speak in African vernacular, narrative is easily understood by expert use of body language, tone and expression. – Priya Dala

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