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Saturday, May 1, 2021


(Cara Roberts, Bryan Hiles, Straw Nzimande & Rowan Stuart. Pic by Roland Perold)

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Instrumagicka, the premiere of well-known musician Rowan Stuart’s first short film at Seabrooke's Theatre at Durban High School (DHS).

As Covid lockdown eases, Seabrooke’s is fast becoming popular as a performance venue. It’s easily accessible and comfortable and a perfect size to host a performance like this, even with obeying lockdown social-distancing.

Instrumagicka - The Short Film is based on the music of Stuart’s upcoming instrumental six-track EP, Instrumagicka.

Stuart proves himself a good cameraman with a series of sequences including some beautiful landscape shots. He also wrote, directed and edited the film.

He couldn’t have made a better choice in his selection of actors - Bryan Hiles, Cara Roberts and Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande – performers who are comfortable in any genre

Stuart describes the film as weaving a tale of mystery with a supernatural undertone but it has a particular aim. As he explains: "Instead of creating a regular music video for my upcoming EP, I decided to weave all six of the pieces into one continuous mini-movie, and now the music and the visual story have become one and the same".

The film includes no dialogue that we can hear (unless we can lip-read!) and the “storyline”, as it were, therefore makes it difficult to follow who’s doing what and why. We are introduced to Bryan Hiles standing on the edge of a rooftop, obviously considering suicide. He changes his mind and plods on his depressed way. He is haunted by the image of a bride (Cara) who is beautifully dressed in a white wedding dress but is in a fury and desperate because it appears that she has been ditched at the altar. Then Straw comes into his dreams, observing him from afar in a forest but later saving him from drowning and then helping him to solve his psychological problems.

By the end of the movie, we do get to understand certain elements of the plot but while we are trying to follow the process, I’m afraid that the quality of the music tends to get sidelined… and that’s not the point of the exercise.

Perhaps the occasional cryptic sub-title might help to provide a stepping stone in the story?

(Rowan Stuart. Pic by Roland Perold)

In the live on-stage interview with the cast after the showing of the film, it was clear that all involved had had a good working relationship and some of the amusing moments were recalled.

After a short interval, we were treated to a solo music performance by Stuart moving from acoustic to electric guitar in a variety of numbers, with interesting introductions to each one. I really enjoyed this because, despite carrying numerous publicity articles on his activities on artSMart, I have never seen him perform.

Instrumagicka - The Short Film will also be screened at The Knoll in Hilton tonight (May 1, 2021). For more information contact email