Love, dance at time of alienation
David Kramer’s new show at the Fugard is set at the time new apartheid laws loomed
CAPE Town’s culture of ballroom dancing takes centre stage in the latest original production from South African theatre stalwart David Kramer.
Langarm is a story of love and intrigue set in the world of Cape Town’s ballroom dance scene in the 1960s.
With the threat of new apartheid laws hanging over their heads, people will do almost anything to survive and protect their relationships.
Playing the lead roles of Jeff and Angelina are Cameron Botha and Rushney Ferguson, a pair of dancers and lovers of different hues whose bond is threatened as the apartheid laws loom large over them.
Botha said, “Everyone can identify with each character and find in them what brings us together.
“He meets Angelina and they sneakily start dancing together, and he has feelings for her.”
The story takes place in 1965 when Dinah Levin (Kim Louis) is widowed and invites her nephew, Jeff, whose fiancée has just dumped him, to help her manage her late husband’s Canterbury Hotel. Here, Jeff meets ballroom dancer Angelina and when her partner leaves her in the lurch she asks Jeff to partner her in The Swaziland Ballroom Championships.
“Love is difficult and has a risk, a big risk, but they love each other. She takes a while to settle in but she comes more into her role,” said Ferguson.
The pair leaned on Kramer for advice and authenticity in the musical.
“I started off with David in Kanala. I watched him work and saw the way he puts things together and works through the process,” she said.
Botha described Kramer’s stage work as a “masterclass in theatre”.
“Every day you see the amount of research he puts in for a story. He always says his job as a director is to make our lives difficult.
“That brings so much depth to the production and makes it all the more better.”
The pair felt that acting in a musical was difficult – having to master several aspects of the production.
“It’s artistically heavy and demanding on you to master all the disciplines. There’s nothing natural about singing and dancing while telling a story at all,” said Botha.
Ferguson said it was significant that the production was being staged in District Six.
“People will love watching the show because it gives them a voice to come back to the area where they came from, and that makes it important for us to tell this story as authentically as possible and do it justice.”
Langarm is on at the Fugard Theatre, District Six, from November 20.
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