Stand­ing ova­tion for 2018

The­atre rocked with big mu­si­cals, mov­ing dra­mas and ‘en­ter­tain­ment on steroids’

Pretoria News Weekend - - LIFESTYLE - Masego Panyane

ONE of the things I have come to in­ti­mately ap­pre­ci­ate about lo­cal the­atre is its abil­ity to tell a va­ri­ety of sto­ries in a daz­zling fash­ion – in­ti­mate, re­al­is­tic and en­ter­tain­ing.

One of my high­lights of 2018 was the stage adap­ta­tion of The Color Pur­ple pre­sented by Bernard Jay un­der the di­rec­tion of Janice Honey­man at the Joburg The­atre.

I loved see­ing Ler­ato Mve­lase step into the shoes of the sul­try Shug Avery, with the role of Celie be­ing por­trayed by rel­a­tively new Did­in­tle Khu­nou. But it was Neo Mo­taung in the role of Sophia who had my at­ten­tion. The char­ac­ter re­quires a cer­tain kind of bold­ness and raw en­ergy that she was able to cap­ture al­most ef­fort­lessly.

An­other mu­si­cal that de­serves a men­tion is Free­dom the Mu­si­cal pre­sented by the State The­atre un­der the di­rec­tion of the the­atre’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, Aubrey Sekhabi.

The pro­duc­tion res­onated with me per­son­ally be­cause of my own ex­pe­ri­ences of the 2015 #Feesmust­fall stu­dent protests that rocked the coun­try. Be­yond that, it was a youth­ful, edgy and beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted the­atre pro­duc­tion.

What was im­por­tant for me was that on the night I at­tended, at least, it at­tracted a much younger au­di­ence, which is some­thing pleas­ing to wit­ness be­cause in this coun­try the­atre doesn’t seem to have quite cracked this.

The pro­duc­tions of vet­eran and re­spected play­wright Mike van Graan also had their time in the sun this year, and are al­ways a great treat.

Green Man Flash­ing is ar­guably an old pro­duc­tion, but it’s still re­ally good sto­ry­telling.

The rather new An­other One’s Bread demon­strated some­thing vi­tally im­por­tant about Van Graan’s works – they are very good at cap­tur­ing the mood of what­ever time pe­riod they are meant to por­tray. They are nu­anced but still re­tain that im­por­tant en­ter­tain­ment fac­tor.

It’s a case of edu­tain­ment on steroids. With­out the preach­i­ness.

The an­nual Naledi The­atre Awards did not dis­ap­point as they cel­e­brated some of the most de­serv­ing the­atre works of 2018.

The two awards I com­pletely agreed with were those of Jen­nifer Steyn and An­drew Buck­land for best fe­male lead and best male lead for The In­con­ve­nience of Wings.

I re­mem­ber how very deep in my feels (as the cool kids would say) the pro­duc­tion had me. They are well-de­served awards in my not-so­hum­ble opin­ion.

The other big win­ner of the night was King Kong – The Mu­si­cal. Be­sides the fact that I’m a fan of mu­si­cals, this was a stel­lar pro­duc­tion.

It is no se­cret that 2018 was a pretty good year on stage, and if the ru­mour mill is any­thing to go by, it looks like 2019 will be an equally stun­ning year for the arts.

KING Kong – The Mu­si­cal.

THE Color Pur­ple.

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