national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, December 12, 2021


(Above: Kaylee McIlroy & Mpilo Straw Nzimande. Pic by Val Adamson)

“How To Train Your Human” is a fun and very professional production. A far cry from the tatty efforts that are sometimes presented in the guise of children’s theatre. (Review by Keith Millar)

In light of the well-documented problems faced by the performing arts sector over the past few years, the opening of a new theatre is truly a momentous occasion.

So, Keith and Christine Standeaven should be highly commended for taking a leap of faith and building a new performance venue at their popular Saturday morning Shongweni Market.

The couple have always been committed to providing wholesome family fun at their market and this theatre is an extension of that vision. They hope that families will fall in love with the notion of live theatre again.

The brand spanking new venue was opened last Saturday with a performance of Michael Taylor-Broderick's delightful new children’s theatre production How to Train your Human, which was much enjoyed by the kids (dragons) present and their parents.

The only downside was the extreme heat in the venue. With temperatures outside of over 30 degrees and bright sunshine, the rustic theatre with its tin roof acted a bit like a oven. Actors and audience alike were pouring perspiration. The addition of a few overhead fans may well help to get the air moving and cool down the theatre a bit.

How To Train Your Human is a fun and very professional production. A far cry from the tatty efforts that are sometimes presented in the guise of children’s theatre.

It is presented as a Dragons-in-Training seminar hosted by The Dragon Preservation Society. This seminar focuses on teaching all attending Dragons the skills needed to successfully train their humans. Conducted by two highly-respected Dragons and played with a great sense of fun and energy by physical theatre performers: the gangly string bean, Mpilo Straw Nzimande, and Kaylee McIlroy.

(Right: Mpilo Straw Nzimande & Kyran Taylor. Pic by Val Adamson)

They “kidnap” young Kyran Taylor from the audience and proceed to remove his heart (there is a hilarious shadow theatre sequence where a variety of power tools are used to achieve this), all in an effort to discover the location of all human emotions and to reveal the five love languages people should use in life.

Michael Taylor -Broderick and his Theatresmiths company are award-winning purveyor of theatre magic – and he does not disappoint on this occasion. The set is a madcap science lab and is filled with no end of gizmos, pipes, lights, and billowing smoke. His sound and lighting are also top class.

He enjoyed the help of market regular, Uptown Funky Junk’s Brandon Bunyan and his Black Coffee Productions in putting together the excellent technical elements of this production.

How To Train Your Human is an enjoyable feel-good piece of theatre. The only thing I would change is to try and get the audience more involved. I am not sure to what level Covid and social distancing effects this, but I feel volunteers could be called on to help mix potions, for example. I know my grandsons were itching to get involved.

And talking of grandsons (9 and 6 years old) – they rated the experience 9.5 out of 10 and found it very enjoyable and want to go again!

Shongweni Market welcomes visitors every Saturday until Christmas from 06h30 until 13h00 – with special market days on Thursday 16, Friday 17 and Sunday 19 December from 08h00 until 14h00. Browse, and buy authentic, original and unusual Christmas gifts while supporting small businesses, and enjoying a leisurely holiday brunch under the trees, with breathtaking views.  The market is home to an amazing assortment of kids’ activities, food and beverage options, handmade crafts, early morning yoga sessions, live music, plenty of outdoor seating, and safe parking.

How to Train your Human is suitable for the whole family. It will be staged at 10h00 and noon on December 11; 16; 17; 18; 19, and January 8, 2022, with the option to extend further into January.

Tickets are R70 throughout available through Quicket in advance or at the door. The show runs at approximately 45 minutes, no interval.

Dragons, of all ages, are especially welcome! In fact, the best-dressed dragon will win a prize!

Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market is situated at Lot 457, Mr551, Shongweni, in the Valley of 1000 Hills. Contact, phone 031 777 4686 or visit – Keith Millar