Standing ovation for 2018
Theatre rocked with big musicals, moving dramas and ‘entertainment on steroids’
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.