Press: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night reimagined underneath an African sky for local audiences

December 9, 2016

Artscape Theatre in association with The Maynardville Theatre Trust and The City of Cape Town presents an adaptation of the romantic Shakespearean comedy, Twelfth Night. Starring David Johnson and Elizabeth Akudugu, this uniquely African inspired version is directed by Geoffrey Hyland and is on at Maynardville’s Open - Air Theatre from 21 January to 25 February 2017.


On the imagined island of Illyria, off the coast of Africa, a fresh take on Shakespeare’s unfading classic comes to life as the shipwrecked twins, Viola and Sebastian, cause mayhem with the locals. Twelfth Night, known as a ‘Feast of Fools’ and a time for the ‘Lords of misrule’ to create general mischief, anarchy and the exorcising of evil spirits, borrows its title from the Christmas festivities known as Epiphany and was celebrated with excessive, rampant activity during the Elizabethan era. Twelfth Night explores themes such as illusion and disguise to madness and deception and challenges our ideal expectations and perceptions of love. Playfully combined into a romantic comedy, it uses music, food and love to create whirlwinds of delight in a merry-go-round of romance, pranks and masquerades.


One of the most exciting things to look forward to is Twelfth Night’s stellar cast, with up and coming talents and television veterans, to award winning achievers and aspiring directors. David Johnson stars as the love-sick Orsino, and is no stranger to Shakespeare having appeared in Hamlet, Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. Johnson recently performed in Wond (Suidoosterfees), Hond Se Gedagtes (Woordfees) and the acclaimed Blood Brothers by David Kramer.


Joining Johnson as his apparent love interest, Olivia, is the Golden Globe winning actress, Elizabeth Akudugu. Awarded in 2015 for her supporting role as Mimi in the film remake of hit musical, Rent, Akudugu has also been recognized at the 2015 Bafta’s and Daytime Emmy’s for Best Direction in Like a Star. Akudugu has also featured in several local stage productions including Have you seen Zandile? and Railroad Angels.


Lamla Ntsaluba, a new young talent recently seen in Jazzart’s Biko’s Quest and Theatre in the Backyard’s Is He Mad?, plays shipwrecked twin Sebastian alongside Awethu Hleli as his sister, Viola. Hleli is best known for her role as Portia in SABC 1’s period drama When We were Black, her appearance in a musical adaptation of the book series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and for her standout performance in Geoffrey Hyland’s Wounds To Face.


The support cast includes Mark Elderkin as the puritanical Malvolio, Nicholas Pauling as the opportunistic uncle, Sir Toby and Wessel Pretorius as the witty clown Feste. Bianca Mannie plays Maria, Roberto Kyle as Sir Andrew, Oaribile Ditsile as Fabian, Siya Sikawuti as Captain with Adolph De Beer as Antonio.


Directed by the award winning and innovative, Geoffrey Hyland, currently Associate Professor and Head of UCT’s Drama Department, Hyland is also known for his unique adaptations of several Shakespearean productions including Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. Other notable work includes Slowly, Madame De Sade, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and The Cherry Orchard.


The creative team includes set design by Nicolas Mayer, costume design by Leigh Bishop, lighting design by Luke Ellenbogen with sound design by Liam Cookson.


Twelfth Night features a completely original score by the eclectic, afro-classical composer, Neo Muyanga. Cultural Activist and Founding Member of the trailblazing acoustic afro-pop duo, Blk Sonshine, Muyanga has in recent years grown from musician to composer having created the opera, The Struggle is my Life, based on an episode in Madiba’s life and has toured with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Handspring Puppet Company and Paco Pen’s Flamenco.


The Annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park productions have been proudly overseen by Artscape during the last 40 years, aiding in its growth with the same commitment that the founders, Cecelia Sonnenburg and Rene Ahrenson showed upon its inception in 1956. Through their partnership with the Maynardville Theatre Trust, both esteemed entities continue to deliver works of excellence and relevance for our society and its theatergoers. Now, in its 61st year, with the commitment of The City of Cape Town, the partnership between Artscape and The Maynardville Theatre Trust has been strengthened through The City’s logistical support and by sponsoring the venue through the Mayor’s Special Events Committee.


Shakespeare-in-the-Park maintains a longstanding relationship with Western Cape schools and while Twelfth Night is not a Setwork production for 2017, special school performances will still be accommodated on week nights, affording learners the opportunity to see a Setwork production come to life. “This valued public tradition has become a symbol of the continued insight that classical theatre has for us and for the education of our learners. We once again dedicate a number of performances in our season to this journey of learning and welcome all the schools that continue to support us, and their own education, through this extraordinary tradition” – Marlene Le Roux (CEO, Artscape)


Tickets are available at Artscape Box Office (021 410 9838), Dial-a-Seat (021 421 7695) and and ranges from R108 – R180. Family discounted tickets are available from R120 – R180 for the 23 and 24 January performances with Preview tickets between R120 – R180 for the 17 to 20 January shows. School discounts are available at R80 per student via the Box Office Manager. Group and early bird specials are also available.


The Maynardville Open-Air Theatre is situated in Maynardville Park, Wynberg. The spectacular green wooded park has earned it the reputation as one of the best-loved outdoor theatre venues in the Cape Region. It offers its patrons a 500m2 wooded park for pre-show picnics and drinks, as well as a unique wooded 700-seater theatre setting. Limited facilities for wheelchairs are available in accordance with safety regulations and can be booked via Artscape’s Box Office or through Computicket when making a booking. Parking is situated in the direct vicinity of the venue.


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