During Woman’s Month the Baxter Theatre Centre is staging two very different productions which pay homage to the resilience of women in South Africa with the 2015 Best of the Zabalaza Theatre Festival winner Fruit and Egoli which was selected on merit as the best-seller at the festival.
Fruit, a beautiful and innovative one-hander, runs in the Baxter Masambe Theatre for a limited season from 12 to 29 August at 7pm nightly with matinees on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11am and on Saturday, 15 August at 2pm.
The carefully-layered, richly-textured play is written and directed by Paul Noko from the Soweto-based Dala Arts and is performed in English with some isiZulu by the 19 year-old Matshediso Mokoteli. The play also won the most promising actress, best script and best visiting production awards at the Zabalaza Festival.
The Sowetan described it best, saying, “This play is awesome in all respects … technically proficient, well conceptualised, beautifully written and directed”.
Dealing delicately and sensitively with the loss of innocence Fruit is the simple tale of a young girl Matlakala, who uses an indigenous game called masikitla to tell her story about what life is like for her growing up in the township of Diepkloof, which is ravaged by crime and poverty. In this game she uses stones to represent the 16 characters from her neighbourhood which she seamlessly portrays.
At the age of 14 Matlakala receives her first doll that she names Lucy and with whom she shares her story. Trapped in her childhood memories she is now claiming back her innocence.
Fruit beat over 45 other productions to win the Best Production award at this year’s festival, which was held in March. The winning production is awarded a chance to be staged as part of the Baxter’s mainstream line-up.
“There was no doubt that this would be the winner at our festival this year,” says Zabalaza Artistic Director Thami Mbongo. “Matshediso Mokoteli’s performance is exemplary - the tenderness with which she approaches her multiple roles is really quite remarkable for such a young actress. The clever writing and simple direction contribute to make this production fresh and relevant and allows it to resonate universally - it could be performed anywhere in the world. This is a work that is quietly powerful.”
The Zabalaza Theatre Festival is widely regarded as one of the premier development platforms in the country and has received great acclaim since its launch in 2011. Since its inception it has grown exponentially each year as the organisers pay special attention to innovation and expanding the programme. Previous Best Production winners are Uhlazo by Loyiso Damoyi (2011), Worst of Both Worlds by Bulelani Mabutyana (2012), Skierlik by Phillip Dikotla (2013) and The Champion by Khayalethu Anthony in 2014.
These productions went on to be staged at various festivals and events in the Western Cape. Skierlik received two Fleur du Cap nominations and Khayalethu Anthony won the Fleur du Cap award for Best Performance in a review, cabaret or one-person show for The Champion.
Fruit previews at the Baxter Masambe Theatre on 12 August, opens on 13 August and runs until 29 August at 7pm nightly with matinee performances at 11am on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 2pm on Saturday 15 August.
Tickets cost R85 with discounted block-booking tickets available for schools, charities and organisations.
Another production, Egoli, written and directed by Bongani Titana, was selected on merit as it was the best-seller at the festival and will be staged in the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 17 to 29 August.
The musical theatre production is performed by an ensemble cast of nine young actors won the best musical director award, most outstanding artist of the festival (Zikhona Jacobs) award and the Outright-Faisit award for performance excellence (Ayanda Dakuse).
With music composed by Titana, this story is vibrantly brought to the stage through song. Madlamini is a strict, God-loving woman from a rural village who travels to Egoli, the city of gold, in search of her husband. He left their home for the big city in order to find a job and make some money for his family. However, his plans were derailed when he got sucked into the fast and dangerous life of the big city and now she is on a journey to find him.
There are two evening performances at 7pm on 17 and 19 August, two matinee performances on Saturdays 22 and 29 August and school’s performances are at 10am and 12 pm.
Booking for Fruit or Egoli is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.co.za or at any Shoprite or Checkers outlets.
For any discount on corporate, school, charity, or fundrasing events, as well as block bookings, please contact Sharon on 021 680 3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carmen on 021 680 3993 or email@example.com.