Spotlight: Meeting the Audience's Actor

June 5, 2014

On Monday, I was undoubtedly the luckiest theatre fan in our city, as I got to sit down in the trendy Alexander Bar on a stormy Cape Town winters eve to discuss the allure of theatre with the creative mind that is James Cairns. Although he usually calls Joburg home, he has thankfully braved our Cape storms to come and charm audiences alongside Taryn Bennett in the Jenine Collocott directed The Snow Goose.


Described as a story of friendship in a time of war, James explains that although this adaption is “not sentimental, it carries a lot of sentiment”.


While author Paul Gallico takes the reader on a journey where “years pass in a sentence”, James and Taryn are not the narrators in this piece. They rather use visual narrative (a subtle harmony of dialogue and imagery) to tell this story that is set in motion when a wounded, storm tossed snow goose is brought into Philip Rhayader’s life by a young girl called Fritha.


Listening to James, it becomes clear that he truly believes in the power of visual imagery: “What the audience experience has very little to do with what actors feel, it is all about the audience’s reaction to what they see.” In that philosophical sense, James (although we bet he would deny it) is actually a very selfless actor, placing the audience’s experience above what he could emotionally and personally take from any role. In his performance he rather focuses on the emotional triggers and the audience sentiment a specific action or sequence can generate.  


The visual triggers that compliments the beautiful dialogue in this play promises to be nothing short of breathtaking, with six versions of the goose from puppet to shadow, being but one of the aspects that is sure to amaze. Not to forget about the carefully crafted masks, which James and Taryn sanded down themselves!


This production really has them working hard on every aspect of the play. Listening to James, the hard work has been rewarding. He without hesitation credits Giovanni Fusetti trained director Jenine for turning himself and Taryn into better actors, as in the absence of facial expression, “mask style performance forces you to tell the story carefully”.


When asked to sum up the show in three words, James’ cheeky response was, “Buy a ticket”. I could not have thought of a better bum-on-seat booking motivation to entice the public to come and experience the visual escapacism that James and Taryn will create for you in the The Snow Goose at Kalk Bay Theatre from 5 to 28 June.


In the end, even if this play may leave your cheek gently touched by a tear or two, this promises to be a beautifully told story and something that made it onto our must see list. Can't wait!

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