THE NATIONAL Arts Festival wraps up in Grahamstown tomorrow and many festival productions are headed to the Mother City.
Many productions were sold out, such as Lara Foot’s Inconvenience of Wings. It is at the Baxter from Tuesday and runs until August 14.
Pulp – tagged as an “intoxicating marriage of film noir meets dance theatre” – was another production which received acclaim. It opened on Thursday night at the Rosebank Theatre and is on until next Saturday. It will then move to the Galloway Theatre at the V&A Waterfront, from July 20-23.
Musical theatre star Steven van Wyk who recently played Cosmo Brown in the international and South African tours of Singin’ in the Rain – for which he was nominated for the Fleur du Cap Award – performs in Pulp.
The production is presented by the award-winning Underground Dance Theatre collective.
In addition to performing, Van Wyk conceived, designed and wrote the piece. He also co-choreographed and directed it with Cilna Katzke and Thalia Laric, who also perform.
In Pulp, they have focused on archetypes found in pulp fiction and film noir – the femme fatale, private investigator – and re-imagined them in a dance theatre setting.
Van Wyk explained: “The title comes more from the idea of reducing something down to pulp: a narrative, the essence of a character; the conventions of theatre and jazz dance.
“The key film noir that inspired this work is Kiss Me Deadly, a classic from the for- ties about a mysterious suitcase that everyone wants to get their hands on.
“The drama over this suitcase inspired Tarantino to make Pulp Fiction, which also centres around a briefcase which is precious for an unknown reason… We have taken the frame of reference as film noir, with a pulpy feel.
“We wanted to set up this camp, pulp-inspired narrative that is quite traditional in the way it ties the film noir-style voice- over narration to the action that is danced on stage.”
As the narrative implodes, what is the narrator left to narrate?
And if the movement and dance had been so linked to the text that he is speaking, what happens when he is really narrating nothing?
The narrator has to stick with his melodramatic shtick, but when he is narrating a crossword puzzle, for instance, what do the characters do?
There was some influence from Van Wyk’s performance in Singin’ in the Rain, “but my feel for film noir was inspired by my tenure on Sunset Boulevard, where as part of the small ensemble cast we played private detectives, paparazzi, Hollywood celebrities, and mobsters.
“That melodramatic, campy mood fascinated me because it’s level of stylisation is so high that it begins to seem aware of itself.
“It has these rules in terms of the characters that are allowed in that world and how you need to perform them.
“The music and the lighting that exists in that world is also incredibly specific.”
Tickets for Pulp at the Rosebank Theatre (until next Saturday), are R100. Book at www. webticket.co.za. Tickets for the season at the Galloway (July 20-23) are R90-R120. Book at www. waterfronttheatreschool.co.za
Cilna Katzke and Thalia Laric in