‘Jesters’ to speak truth to power

Po­lit­i­cal satire and com­edy will fill May­nardville park with laugh­ter

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFESTYLE - ROBYN CO­HEN Jesters Jesters Jesters in in the the Park Park Richard III Jesters Jesters in the Park, Jesters in the Park

MANY peo­ple are un­aware that May­nardville has be­come a fully-fledged sum­mer fes­ti­val which in­cludes bal­let, mu­sic, com­edy and the sig­na­ture May­nardville event – the Shake­speare pro­duc­tion.

The much-an­tic­i­pated – star­ring Alan Com­mit­tie – is on from Fe­bru­ary 7 to March 9.

is be­ing pro­duced by The Cape Town Com­edy Club (based at the Water­front) with multi-tal­ented comic, ac­tor and direc­tor Rob van Vu­uren book­end­ing the pro­gramme with his own set and in­tro­duc­ing the comics. The line-up also fea­tures Dy­lan Skews, Phil de Lange and Reagen Allen.

At the start of the maiden sea­son they bat­tled for au­di­ences. It was a new plat­form, but word soon got round that this was com­edy with a dif­fer­ent spin in the set­ting of a park in Wyn­berg, with the sur­round sound from the area – sirens (nearby po­lice sta­tion) etc.

is not sim­ply about trundling out com­edy in the out­doors. The pro­duc­ers con­cep­tu­alised in line with May­nardville be­ing a clas­si­cally-inspired fes­ti­val. Jesters were core to Shake­speare’s work, mak­ing jibes about the sta­tus quo and mock­ing power-hun­gry pro­tag­o­nists.

Jour­ney­ing fur­ther back to the roots of the com­edy medium, in an­cient Greece com­edy was a pop­u­lar and vis­ceral form of theatre.

In the Athe­nian democracy, vot­ers were ap­par­ently in­flu­enced by comic poets at the­atres. There was no Face­book or In­sta­gram, and it was a vi­tal plat­form for in­flu­enc­ing the masses.

Peo­ple lis­tened to the jesters and truths dis­tilled by them. In many ways, in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety, our comics speak the truth – of­ten say­ing what is not be­ing said by those in a po­si­tion to speak out. Although we laugh, we lis­ten.

In our tur­bu­lent po­lit­i­cal land­scape, through satire and the pop­u­lar form of stand-up, theatre­go­ers process what’s go­ing on. We need voice the truth.

Van Vu­uren said for May­nardville, he was script­ing his ma­te­rial with the con­cept of be­ing a jester in a park set­ting – rag­ing against the truth.

“Yes, it our hope and aim to make peo­ple laugh, but also to hope­fully shift their per­spec­tives and to do what the olden-day court jester was ul­ti­mately to do, which was to speak truth to power through com­edy.”

The many-tal­ented Van Vu­uren (and may we add, Fleur du Cap Theatre Award-win­ning ac­tor) has per­formed ex­ten­sively at May­nardville in Shake­spearean plays, and in last year’s in­au­gu­ral edi­tion of he took the mickey out of the Bard and mashed it lib­er­ally with ob­ser­va­tional com­edy.

Can au­di­ences ex­pect an­other tale of com­edy sig­ni­fy­ing mirth and fury?

“Ab­so­lutely! As the host, I used the op­por­tu­nity to re­late much of what we were do­ing to a Shake­spearean con­text. I have per­formed in a num­ber of Shake­speare pro­duc­tions at

jesters to May­nardville and it seemed ap­pro­pri­ate to talk about the Bard within a stand-up com­edy con­text.

“I’m busy pre­par­ing a new ‘Shake­speare mono­logue’ for the event right now. The set­ting is fan­tas­tic and it def­i­nitely works for straight stand-up, but it is also a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to do some com­edy that is a lit­tle more the­atri­cal.”

As to the other comics on the bill, he added: “Be­ing the host I will be gear­ing my stuff specif­i­cally to suit the theme and set­ting, but we didn’t want to put too much pres­sure on the acts to rein­vent their sets for this show – we want them to bring their A-game for the show, so that’s what they will be do­ing. I, how­ever, will be do­ing ev­ery­thing in my abil­ity to gear my ma­te­rial to suit this par­tic­u­lar con­text.

“We are go­ing to try to re­peat the win­ning for­mula from last year as much as pos­si­ble. What we did last year re­ally worked and the au­di­ence were su­per happy, so we want to give them more of the same.”

Tick­ets for

zcost are R100 – R150. Most May­nardville Open-Air Fes­ti­val shows start at 8.15pm. Sun­day Ses­sions (one-off shows which in­clude opera and gospel) be­gin at 7.45pm.

Ticket prices for the sea­son range from R140-R250 with con­ces­sions for schools, block book­ings, stu­dents, se­niors etc. Book at Com­puticket.

See http://may­nardville.co.za

PHIL de Lange hasJestersin hand.

ROB van Vu­uren will host the clas­si­cally inspired com­edy plat­form May­nardville,Jesters in the Parkat

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