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PRESS: Two Baxter Theatre productions at Woordfees

Fahiem Stellenboom

 

Two of the Baxter Theatre’s hugely successful productions will feature on the #ToyotaUSWoordfees2023 programme during October. They are Mark Fleishman’s Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles and Nadia Davids’ double Fleur du Cap award-winning, Hold Still, directed Jay Pather.

Andrew Buckland, Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa lead the Magnet Theatre Youth Company in the tragic reimaginings of the classic Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles runs in the KykNET Stellenbosch High School with four performances only, from 7 to 9 October. They are on 7 October at 8.30pm, 8 October at 10am and 9 October at 5pm and 8.30pm There is an age restriction of 13 years.

Presented by The Baxter, in collaboration with Magnet Theatre, the production forms part of the Reimagining Tragedy in Africa and the Global South research project (ReTAGS).


Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles, is made by the same creative team that produced the ground-breaking, innovative works Every year, Every day, I am walking, Rain in dead man’s footprints, Cargo and Antigone (not quite/quiet).


Buckland joins Reznek (Creon) and Yisa (Theseus) as Oedipus wanting to be buried in the land. Occupying that same space is a chorus of homeless occupiers who unwillingly become entangled in Oedipus’ story. The Magnet Theatre Youth Company as the chorus, comprises Azola Mkhabile, Buhle Stefane, Kuhle Myathaza, Lindokuhle Melaphi, Mihlali Bele, Molupi Lepeli, Nosiphiwo Ndabeni, Siphenathi Siqwayi, Sipho Kalako, Thabo Mkenene and Wendy Mrali. They are a powerhouse of new talent who tell their stories through the body, text and a sonic landscape that haunts.


Audiences and the media raved when it opened to critical acclaim at The Baxter earlier this year. Robyn Cohen for The Cape Robyn said, “Go and see Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles: A fierce and defiantly immersive theatrical experience. And yes, there are laughs and lots of moments of release. Do not miss” while Megan Choritz for Weekend Special said, “This is vital, hectic theatre, brilliantly made and 100% effective … extraordinary production.” Artivist and theatre critic, Faye Kabali-Kagwa, wrote,” “This production is a great reminder of the power of story and how old stories persist … The Magnet Youth Company shine … There are lovely choice moments from all of them. The production is well done.”


As can be expected in all Magnet Theatre productions, there is strong evocative physical imagery, a surprising staging and now a compelling poetic text in English and isiXhosa (with surtitles), written by award-winner, Qondiswa James, one of the most interesting new writers on the South African theatre scene. She has written an exquisite lyrical text answering the ancient Greek play from the past with the shocking immediacy of the contemporary moment. It is work that will shake up, unsettle and offer an unflinching reflection on the state of the nation.


The formidable creative team, under the direction of Fleishman are Craig Leo (design), Neo Muyanga (musical direction), Ina Wichterich (choreography), Themba Stewart and Mark Fleishman (lighting design) and Daniel Manners (projections). Sophocles text is translated by Oliver Taplin, with permission of Oxford University Press.


Book here for Oedipus at Corolonus #aftersophocles www.bax.mobi/oedipus.

The second Baxter Theatre production at the Toyota US Woordfees is respected playwright, Nadia Davids’ double award-winning Hold Still, directed by the renowned Jay Pather.


Davids and Pather once again team up for her latest play, which won the Fleur du Cap Best New South African Script and Best Actress awards earlier this year. It was also nominated for Best Set Design (Patrick Curtis) and Best Director (Jay Pather).


The production brings together a stellar cast and creative team, starring Andrew Buckland and Mwenya Kabwe, with Tailyn Ramsamy and Lyle October. The creative team, led by Jay Pather (director), comprises Patrick Curtis (set design), Wilhelm Disbergen and Franky Steyn (lighting co-design) and Angela Nemov (costume design).


Business Day described it as “… a thrilling but chastening experience …” and Daily Maverick wrote, “While these topics are difficult, they are handled by the cast with powerful grace, presenting a story … with heart, hope and even a little humour” and Broadway World said, “… incredibly intriguing … a powerful piece.” The Cape Robyn was encouraging, saying, ‘breathtaking ... a must see … It is essential to see” and Call off the Search described it as, “A riveting portrait of a moment in time, an intersection of histories in the making, that will very likely become a classic.” Weekend Special said, “Davids’ script is a work of beauty – lyrical, smart, contemporary, question. And her characters stand out as clearly defined, yet also nuanced.”


Hold Still tells the story of a family shaped by different generational traumas who must confront their own histories to get through a single, life-changing night. The multi-themed play focuses on a long-term marriage and through it, examines the limits of middle-class empathy, the complexities of an inter-racial, intra-cultural family living in the shadow of catastrophic political histories, and what we’ll do to protect those we love.


Set against a contemporary cosmopolitan London, rife with xenophobia, the fear of the stranger is a steady theme throughout the play. Rosa and Ben Feigel (played by Kabwe and Buckland) are a progressive, dynamic, North London couple. She’s the daughter of South African exiles, he’s the son of a man who escaped on Kindertransport. Their teenage son Oliver (October) - full of a political conviction his parents have encouraged - decides to hide a vulnerable person, his best friend and an asylum-seeking teenager (Ramsamy), in their home. As the night unfolds, Rosa and Ben must grapple with what their response to Oliver’s actions reveals about their marriage, their histories, and how it tests their image of themselves.


There is an age restriction of 13 years. The production runs at the Adam Small Laboratory for four performances only on 10 October at 12pm, 11 October at 5.30pm, 12 October at 4.30pm and 13 October at 4pm.


Book here of Hold Still: bax.mobi/holdstill

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