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Thursday, May 23, 2019


(Godfrey Johnson)

The Rhumbelow Theatre is proud to present the theatrical tour-de-force that is Godfrey Johnson in Vaslav. Harnessing the potential of three arts in one, Johnson ignites the spirit of Nijinsky in this celebration of the magnificent power of sheer performance.

Nominated for three Fleur du Cap Awards in 2015, Vaslav is directed by Lara Bye and has been hailed by critics and audiences alike, with demand for this one-person play extending theatrical runs on more than one occasion. Award-winning actor, singer and pianist, Johnson delivers an astonishing performance, seamlessly piloting his audiences across the vast plains of a Europe at war with itself, as experienced by the one man to have ever caused a riot through dancing: the elusive icon of both the Imperial Russian ballet and the Western avant-garde, Vaslav Nijinsky.

Seen as both genius and curiosity, Vaslav Nijinsky remains an intriguing figure today, with numerous biopics and biographies shedding light on this revolutionary of the dance. Powerful in this respect alone, Nijinsky’s inner world could be as disruptive and spectacular as his animalistic choreography suggests. “Gigantic leaps across the stage, he flew, so to speak, to the skies…” gasped Marcel Proust. “Can life be so rich, so splendid, so passionate”, said a haunted Jean Cocteau.

Vaslav is an extreme portrait of our humanity, drawing much from the diaries Nijinsky kept over the six weeks of his treatment in a mental asylum, being one of the first individuals to have received the psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia. A rare document revealing the fragile borders that define our sanity, Vaslav marries the dancer and the mental patient with the social and cultural upheavals of a world struggling with its own borders.

It is no coincidence that Mikhail Baryshnikov is currently playing Nijinsky in Letter to a Man on European and US stages; debuting a year after Vaslav and a very different take on the character, these two masterpieces suggest the enduring humanity of our collective experience.

A unique integration of cabaret, one-person show and classical theatre, Vaslav is based on a text written by Johnson and  Bye and writer Karen Jeynes. The power of this play makes the highest demands of its performer and has earned Johnson nominations at the Fleur du Cap Awards across three, diverse categories: Best Actor in a Musical; Best Performance in a One Person Show; and, Best Composer.

The play is a choreography of dialogue, music and movement, with Johnson drawing on the works of Stravinsky, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Satie and his own compositions, weaving the magic of this world directly from the piano.

Performances take place at Rhumbelow Theatre in Durban on May 29 at 19h30, on May 31 at 20h00 and on June 2 at 14h00. The running time is 65 minutes. The venue opens 90 minutes before show for picnic dinner.

Tickets R150 (R130 pensioners, students with a valid student card and tables of eight or more and R75 for under 13s). Family Pack Pricing (R300 for two adults and two children free)

Take along food picnic baskets. Braais will be available. There is limited secure parking and booking is essential. A cash bar is available (no alcohol may be brought on to the premises). Rhumbelow Durban is situated at 42 Cunningham Road off Bartle Road in Umbilo.

Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland on 082 499 8636, email (also for group booking discounts of 20 or more) or visit