national Arts Festival Banner

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


(Pic by Val Adamson)

The Playhouse Dance Residency is an excellent company, capable of strong movement and impressive moods. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Scars is a new Playhouse Dance Residency which ran in the first week of the Playhouse Company’s South African Women’s Arts Festival.

Superbly lit, the set is a simple but striking range of rope ladders hanging from the flies.

A woman comes in moving very slowly, pulling a number of bodies attached to her at the end of long ropes. She is dressed in a layered white outfit, her sleeves extending beyond her hands. The bodies eventually start to move and encircle her. After a while, she lets them go and they move free of the fabric ropes, becoming independent of her, writhing and thrashing about.

Arms flailing, the women in the company rise and start gyrating, shuddering, falling and spinning.

The male bodies now rise and spring into action. There is a feeling of desperate frustration as if in search of something that can’t be identified.

The main character starts wrapping up the ropes and putting them on her head. We have become aware of the sound of surf and now a thundering heartbeat starts.

The main character is now stripped of her white outfit and dressed in the same layered flowing garments as the others. She is protected and surrounded in the process with much care and love.

The women and men perform apart from each other until they join up, take off their layers of clothing and end up in the same basic tops and pants. They come close to each other and eventually finish in a kind of swimming motion, moving forward with purpose.

The programme notes read that this new production “explores gender stereo-typing, and the negative effects it causes. By tapping into the energy of unlimited human imagination, these barriers can be swept aside, freeing up the human race to realise and rejoice in its full potential, to the benefit of all.”

Oliver Hauser’s lighting design is stunning, using spotlights in the square format as opposed to the circular.

The Playhouse Dance Residency is an excellent company, capable of strong movement and impressive moods. Lulu Mlangeni’s choreography is powerful and robust, pulsating with energy. Scars was an excellent choice for the women’s arts festival. – Caroline Smart