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Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

DON’T stress if you have not been able to make it to Gra­ham­stown for The Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val which started this week and runs un­til July 10.

Many fes­ti­val pro­duc­tions are headed for Cape Town, in­clud­ing Lara Foot’s new play, The In­con­ve­nience of Wings which pre­mieres to­mor­row at the fes­ti­val.

The three- han­der star­ring Jennifer Steyn, An­drew Buck­land and Mnce­disi Sha­bangu will be at the Bax­ter from July 14 un­til Au­gust 14.

Foot is the Fea­tured Artist at the fes­ti­val. She said her brief was to present two ex­ist­ing works and to cre­ate a third. Two pre­vi­ous multi-award-win­ning pieces, Ka­roo Moose and Tshep­ang, will be per­formed at the fes­ti­val. Ka­roo Moose will be staged at the Bax­ter from Au­gust 31 to Septem­ber 21.

The In­con­ve­nience of Wings is “set in a land­scape of mem­ory and dreams and tack­les the is­sues of friend­ship, dys­func­tion, ad­dic­tion and an­gels”.

Su­san (Steyn), who suf­fers from bipo­lar dis­or­der, is mar­ried to An­drew (Buck­land) who suc­cumbs to de­men­tia. “He be­comes an en­abler. She’s de­pen­dent on pre­scrip­tion drugs. It a messy busi­ness,” said Buck­land.

They have an as­so­ci­a­tion with James, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try (Sha­bangu) at the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria. The play is set in Pre­to­ria, where Foot grew up.

“Our story re­flects on three lives: each has a par­tic­u­lar re­la­tion­ship to com­pul­sion and ad­dic­tion. Each is ad­dicted to some­thing; a sub­stance, a way of be­ing,” said Steyn.

The psy­chi­a­trist, said Sha­bangu, “is a loner – in a sense he is ad­dicted to friend­ship”.

The play was in­spired by mem­bers of Foot’s fam­ily and con­ver­sa­tions she had had with peo­ple; she al­lowed the cast to bring their own sto­ries.

“It’s great to work with ac­tors who can im­pro­vise and bring their own ex­pe­ri­ences to the text,” said Foot.

But, this is not an is­sue play, said Buck­land. “It’s about hu­man be­ings. The per­sonal power – hu­man be­ings try­ing to sur­vive with one an­other and in this world. Lara has such a keen eye for truths.”

Any­one fa­mil­iar with her work will be cog­nisant of her sig­na­ture use of mag­i­cal re­al­ism and her abil­ity to trans­form the com­mon­place into im­ages that move us in­tensely.

The ti­tle pro­vides an inkling that this is not a con­ven­tional do­mes­tic drama.

It is a ref­er­ence to A Very Old Man with Enor­mous Wings by Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez, said Buck­land.

In that story, a poor cou­ple with a sick child are in a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion. When an old man with old bro­ken wings crashes in their gar­den, they keep him in their house. Some say that he is an an­gel.

Ev­ery­one wants to see him and he be­comes a spec­ta­cle. The cou­ple charges an en­trance fee, and with money, their lives im­prove.

When the cir­cus comes to town, ev­ery­one goes to see the star at­trac­tion, a spi­der woman, and the cou­ple lose their in­come. But the wing man stays and even­tu­ally sprouts feath­ers and flies away.

“So there is this idea of be­ing a per­son who has wings that don’t work who wishes to fly. There are many res­o­nances,” says Buck­land.

Tick­ets for the Bax­ter shows are R130-R150 at Com­puticket.

The In­con­ve­nience of Wings.

An­drew Buck­land and Jennifer Steyn in

Jennifer Steyn perched on the shoul­ders of Mnce­disi Sha­bangu and An­drew Buck­land in Lara Foot’s new play.

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