Star­ring... Rhodes Young Di­rec­tors!

Grocott's Mail - - ARTS NEWS - By UVILE XIMBA

Rhodes’ Drama De­part­ment is buzzing with cre­ativ­ity and life this week. Di­rec­tors are mould­ing their vi­sions, per­form­ers are breath­ing life into the spa­ces there, and back­stage crews are build­ing the world of four ex­cit­ing theatre works. Com­ing up this week is the Hon­ours Young Di­rec­tors’ Sea­son and there are a range of sto­ries to pick from.

Open­ing the Sea­son, fol­low­ing Women’s Day and the Silent Protests, Nn­di­vhaleni Net­shi­avela’s of­fer­ing Eclipsed is a per­ti­nent and poignant choice. Danai Gurira’s Tonynom­i­nated play un­folds dur­ing the sec­ond Liberian Civil War. High­light­ing the ten­sions of war, the piece is lay­ered upon a force that drives the women of the piece: sur­vival. Liv­ing as the hostage ‘wives’ of one of the rebel groups’ Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cers, the re­la­tion­ships of these women are ex­posed to us when a young girl joins them as the new wife. It is a story of shar­ing and love, and all the warmth and dif­fi­culty of a com­mon strug­gle.

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg is Amy An­n­ear’s cho­sen work. Writ­ten in 1967 by Peter Ni­chols, the piece is an invitation to the lives of Brian, Shiela and Josephine. Brian and Shiela are the par­ents of Josephine who suf­fers from cere­bral palsy, a con­di­tion that af­fects move­ment and bod­ily au­ton­omy. This “dark com­edy” fol­lows their at­tempts to keep their mar­riage in­tact whilst car­ing for their daugh­ter.

Mlondi­wethu Dubazane’s re­con­struc­tion of Brink Scholtz and An­drew Buck­land’s The Swim­ming Les­son, pon­ders a yearn­ing for mem­o­ries and op­por­tu­ni­ties pos­si­bly lost. A re­make of the 2009 Ubom! Theatre Com­pany pro­duc­tion, it is the story of Phyl­lis’s search for these things. A search that finds her drift­ing back and forth be­tween what used to be and what is.

Writ­ten by Suzan-Lori Parks, and di­rected by Mma­tu­misang Mot­sisi, In the Blood is the story of Hester and her strug­gle to raise her five chil­dren with­out their fathers. Work­ing as a “woman of the street”, she tries to pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity of a bet­ter life for her chil­dren. Hester’s nar­ra­tive is one that re­flects a body of is­sues, like her fam­ily’s ex­treme poverty, that should, but of­ten fail to be pri­or­i­tized. Cer­tainly, its de­scrip­tion as “a pow­er­ful com­men­tary on how so­ci­ety fails the poor and pow­er­less”, is cor­rect.

This year’s YDS sea­son epit­o­mizes the best of cre­ativ­ity. The di­rec­tors are a di­verse group, each with unique style and drive in their work. Yet their col­lec­tive of­fer­ing is a re­flec­tion on so­ci­eties, and the is­sues that face them. Above all, it is a re­flec­tion on peo­ple. Come wit­ness their sto­ries: Fri­day 18 Au­gust: 7pm: Eclipsed 8pm: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Satur­day 19 Au­gust: 7pm: The Swim­ming Les­son 8pm: In the Blood

Photo: Sup­plied

Rhodes Drama De­part­ment's Young Di­rec­tors' Sea­son opens tonight.

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