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