Press: Captivating VASLAV explores life, dance, music & madness at the Fugard

November 11, 2019

“People thought I was mad, I just thought I was fully alive” - Vaslav Nijinksy

The critically acclaimed theatrical tour de force, VASLAV, starring Godfrey Johnson directed by Lara Bye, comes to The Fugard Studio Theatre for a limited season from 5 November.

Godfrey Johnson, in partnership with The Fugard Theatre, presents this triple Fleur du Cap Theatre Award nominated production, which has received universal praise from audiences and critics alike since its premiere at the National Arts Festival in 2015.

‘Don’t miss it, it’s a complete theatrical experience’ (The Star);

‘[Johnson] reaches new heights…dazzling…mesmerising’ (Cape Times)

Directed by Lara Bye (Oskar en die Pienk Tannie; Rainbow Scars; London Road; Yellowman) and starring Godfrey Johnson, (Die Van Aardes van Grootoor, David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa, Fifty Shades of Bambi, The Shadow of Brel), VASLAV ignites the spirit of Nijinsky in this dazzling choreography of dialogue, music and movement. Johnson draws on the works of Stravinksy, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Satie and his own compositions, to explore the life of Nijinsky as revolutionary dancer and mental patient, against a backdrop of the social and cultural upheavals of a world struggling with its own borders.

For many years, Nijinsky was the most admired ballet dancer in the world. Labelled ‘The God of the Dance’ by adoring critics, the star of the Ballet Russe company danced for the last time aged 28, in 1919. Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, he spent the next 30 years of his life in and out of mental institutions. Such was the impact of his short career, that his legend still captivates audiences 100 years later.

“This is a tragic and beautiful human story of an artist trying to find wholeness as he faces the onset of Schizophrenia,” says Bye. “Based on Vaslav Nijinsky’s own diaries, and the world he lived in – around the time of the First World War with its explosion of creativity, change and industrial and technological advances - Vaslav blends together an intoxicating combination of original and period music, with dance and video.”

Directed by Lara Bye and starring Godfrey Johnson, Text is by Lara Bye, Karen Jeynes and Godfrey Johnson (based on the diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky). Music is arranged and composed by Godfrey Johnson with Additional Song Lyrics and Text by Lara Bye and Godfrey Johnson. Movement Direction is by Fiona Du Plooy, Original Lighting Design by Jon Keevy and the production was originally produced by KBT Productions.

Comments about VASLAV include:

‘Don’t miss it, it’s a complete theatrical experience which turns a small moment into something quite majestic’ - Diane de Beer, The Star

‘the piano adding depth to the lunacy as well as showing thetalents of both the dancer and the actor….. intelligent and poetic’ - Lesley Stones, Daily Maverick

‘In Vaslav [Johnson] reaches new heights…dazzling…mesmerising,’- Tracey Saunders, Cape Times

‘An intensely memorable, moving piece of theatre,’ -Steyn Du Toit, Sunday Independent

‘Godfrey Johnson stel nie teleur nie’- Mariana Malan, Die Burger

‘The opportunity to glimpse genius, both that of Vaslav and Johnson…. If you don’t go and see Vaslav... you will be depriving your soul of a unique love-story’ - Barbara Loots, Theatre-Scene, Cape Town

‘Vaslav is a masterclass in performance’- Bruce Dennill

‘Lara Bye has once again triumphed’ - Angeliki Theodorou,


VASLAV will be performed in The Fugard Studio Theatre from 5 to 17 November Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm with matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm.

Tickets from R150 to R160 can be booked through The Fugard Theatre box office on 021 461 4554or through The Fugard Theatre’s website at

Please note: Latecomers will not be admitted after the start of the performance. Access to The Studio Theatre is via two flights of stairs; if assistance is required kindly enquire at the box office.

Visit the cosy ground-floor bar for a pre or post-show drink as well as delicious snacks and homemade pizzas. If the weather plays along, enjoy the panoramic city views from The Fugard Theatre’s fantastic rooftop bar. There is secure parking for a small fee directly opposite The Fugard Theatre in Harrington Square. 


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