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SCENE IT: KARATARA, a moving must-see

Barbara Loots


KARATARA, currently onstage at the Baxter Theatre, is a fiery exploration of the havoc the Knysna fires of 2018 wreaked on the lives and futures of so many people. This deeply personal dance-drama is not to be missed.

I have a theatre tell, when I really love a production I instinctively move to the edge of my seat, as if I want to be as close as possible to the story unfolding. KARATARA brought me right to the very edge of my seat; tears silently streaming down my cheeks. I can't remember when last a production moved me this much. It is a phenomenal theatre experience.

KARATARA is a clever piece of theatre that uses dance to drive a dramatic narrative to its climax in a most powerful manner. It tells the story of the devastating “Knysna-fires” of 2018, and places the impact of that blazing inferno centre stage. This foot-stomping, hand-clapping, darkness-crashing, light-flashing, soul-screaming, hart-panting production is a fast-paced creative take on human trauma and the humanity (or lack thereof) in response to such suffering.

The rhythm of this dances drama truly pulses: both as the raging fire and as the heartbeat of a community fighting for survival (both through the flames and in dealing with the scorched earth aftermath). It is deeply moving.

Figure of 8 Dance Collective's Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf, along with Dean Balie, take the audience on a deeply emotional journey of sorrow, fear, fight, flight, disbelief, and loss. Gideon Lombard's direction is innovative, balancing darkness and terror with light; providing emotive relief and release through movement.

I don't often give a production a standing ovation, but KARATARA had me jumping to my feet instinctively in reaction to this emotional journey. I wish I could see it again. The run for this production is sadly very short, ending 24 September 2022. So don't delay, book your tickets immediately online through Webtickets. If you cannot get to the Baxter Theatre run then go see it at the Toyota Woordfees from 10 to 16 October 2022 (tickets also through Webtickets).


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