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Sunday, February 24, 2019


(Tshepo Maise as Sam, Reggie Davidson as Harold & Thando Mzimela as Willie in “Master Harold... and the boys”)

Extremely commendable project by director Luke Holder to showcase the individual capacities of highly talented pupils. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Westville Boys High School should be rightfully proud of Luke Holder, who is head of Performing Arts at the school. He is a highly accomplished musician/musical director and the recent South African Short Play Festival proved that he is an excellent drama director.

While Westville Boys High has already done shows with large numbers with big casts, The South African Short Play Festival, which ran from February 13 to 16, 2019, is a first for the school and, as Holder states, it took 12 years to convince the school’s governing body to do this. He was seeing boys coming through with “an unbelievable level of talent” so he decided to showcase five of the most talented matric pupils.

(Trent Lilford in “White Men With Weapons)

He chose four productions: Master Harold... And The Boys, The Ugly Noo Noo, White Men With Weapons and a new South African musical penned by Matric pupil Cameron Parle entitled The Couch. They were all performed in the well-equipped Roy Couzens Theatre and presented in association with DALRO.

The festival was due to run for one week but the last  day was cancelled to make the theatre available to Ian von Memerty for his Common & Class show which had had to be cancelled after its second night following a student demonstration at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre. I would also commend the pupils who were to perform on that day for being so co-operative and agreeing to give up their show times.

(Cameron Moodie in “The Ugly Noonoo”)

I was only able to see two productions at the festival: The Ugly Noonoo and The Couch and if the quality of these two productions was anything to go by, the other two must have been of the same high standard.

Written and originally performed by Andrew Buckland, The Ugly Noonoo is about the invasion of the Parktown Prawn in Johannesburg, a creature that is described as a cricket that behaves like a terrorist. This is pure physical theatre and deals with fear - fear of the tangible and intangible.

Cameron Moodie impressed with his unswerving consistency throughout this highly demanding piece which requires the actor to take on over 20 characters. While mowing the lawn, the hero discovers a hole and is sucked into it. He finds himself in a strange and wonderful place which seems to be the inside of a glass bottle – it is actually the home of the Ugly Noonoos. They are all part of the Creatures Community Congress which is about Prawn Power – a battle against species dominance and the rights for all species. This is a splendid tour de force performance and Moodie makes the most of the comedy but he could do well to work on stronger projection as many lines were lost.

(Cameron Parle as Phillip Kruger in “The Couch”)

The Couch was an entirely different experience. Cameron Parle, who is an actor, singer and guitarist has created a musical “around the 7 Ages of Man”. Described as a play with music The Couch features his original works bar a couple of numbers. It deals with a 76 year-old bespectacled man who is in his dressing gown in his room in the Happy Ever After Retirement Village. A number of boxes surround a couch, side table, lamp and ottoman. A few guitars are also in evidence.

As the play progresses, he explained that after the death of his much-loved wife, he started to go downhill, forgetting things and becoming a danger to himself so his son put him in the home. Each box he opens takes him down memory lane from the time when he received a tiny guitar on his 5th birthday. Each box reveals another era with Parle graduating from acoustic to electric guitar to suit the music – and costume – of the time. The play could easily become over-sentimental but Parle’s sensitive and honest handling of the subject makes the storyline relevant to many. He finishes the play with the very eloquent and beautifully moving speech he made at his wife’s funeral.

This was an extremely commendable project by director Luke Holder to showcase the individual capacities of highly talented pupils and I sincerely hope that these productions will be seen elsewhere.

For more information, contact Luke Holder at the school on 031 267 1330 or via email – Caroline Smart