‘Out of Joint’ – review by Star Tlali

STAR TLALI

On Thursday night, the 17th of August 2017, “Out of Joint” opened at The Joburg Theatre (Fringe Theatre) with almost a full house of audience members in the auditorium. The show began in darkness, and we start to hear the voices of the performers on stage asking a variety of questions of: “if I sting you…will you die?/ if I kiss you…will you smile?” as the different spotlights revealed the six  performers on stage.  We start on a journey which explored “the social orders that are bursting out of joint”; as mentioned in the beginning of the show, “Out of Joint” is a Physical Theatre piece that focused on the exploration of the issues of ‘power and powerlessness’. With the cast of two females and four males, we see the power struggles of the individual and the social body throughout the work. Choreographed by the celebrated South African dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, scriptwriter and founder of Vuyani Dance Theatre (VDT), Gregory Maqoma, alongside the Austrian born dancer, choreographer, artistic director, festival curator and founder of steptext dance project in Schwankhalle Bremen, Helge Letonja; you could see the combination of the cross-cultures/training background of the two choreographers in this work.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this work was the precision and the unison during the ensemble choreography. I enjoyed how much the group phrases reminded me of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s choreographically technique of breaking phrases down into and out of the original phrase, which always creates an interesting dynamic rhythmically & visually to the work.  Each dancer got a chance to show off their skills during their solos, and each solo had a different quality to it, which showed the dancers in their most powerful &  yet vulnerable form as they would somehow get interrupted or consumed by the other bodies in the space.  There was a merge of different styles of dance within the piece, such as hip-hop influences of ‘krump & tutting’, contemporary dance and even a touch of African dance, which added different textures to the work. I really enjoyed the different shapes created by the bodies in the space and the use of space was also as interesting, where the back of the stage was used, creating a separate platform for the piece.

The design for the whole piece was generally very simple and minimal, with the costume choice of everyday clothes in four main colors: blue, red, black and navy green. There was a white cloth with big holes hanging at the back of the stage in which at some point glowed in the dark, was later taken down and back up towards the end of the show. My only concern regarding this set design was that it was not used to its full capacity, in the sense that; I do not think it was needed. There was only one dancer (Mariko Koh) who had a costume change (first with the wedding dress and then in her underwear). I would have loved it if she stayed in her underwear (or at least half dressed), and/or joined by the rest of the ensemble also half-dressed to represent them reclaiming their bodies from the structures of the social body which had all the power in the beginning piece. One thing that caught my attention in terms of the lighting was when there was a blackout for a while, leaving the stage empty with no action, and I personally found it unfortunate because it took me out of the world of the story for a little bit. Though in general the lights were simple and created different shapes around the stage which added different dynamics to the bodies in the space.

Out of Joint” in general was a very abstract piece, because at times it seemed like there were many elements to it for the audience to register at one go, which somewhat alienated the audience at some points. I feel like the work was not for audience members who were not used to physical theatre works; which is the general feeling I got from some audience members after the show. Though for those who enjoy physical theatre, will be able to enjoy the skill of dance presented by the performers as well as find different interpretations to the themes within the work.  With only a four day run at the Fringe Theatre, “Out of Joint” ended on the 20th of August, at 14h00. Those who were able to catch it will walk out experiencing a European-South African collaboration between the choreographers and the performers, exploring issues that are very relevant today in the world as a whole.

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ANKOBIA – A review by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

A short review of Ankobia by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

Ankobia visibly employs various political satire conventions and borrows from Afrofuturism aesthetics. As such, it is present in the future. Ankobia privileges the African mode of thought, values, and morals as proposed and detailed by Afrocentric and Afrofutirstic visual and audio creatives and theoreticians alike (African intelligentsia class).

Ankobia boldly exposes the illusion and the promises manufactured by the dominant religion discourse and how it purports the notion of freedom. The play successfully tackles the meta-narrative (i.e. the importance of land) theme that continues to reside in the imagination of post-apartheid South African black youth.Through its theatrics, we are reminded that Africans have been deeply connected to the land. And we must not shy away from that. Land means dignity to Africans.

Additionally, Ankobia confronts the liberal sensibilities using allegory and African idioms and proverbs (in this case SeTswana cultural codes) as extended pictorial and linguistic metaphors to express the notion of freedom and individual experiences of black people after the performed injustices of slavery and colonialism upon the African continent.

Throughout the play, Ankobia visits the prevailing tensions between African Traditional Religion and Christianity. We are challenged to interrogate our Bantu Afrikan Spirituality as the solution to our modern day philosophical, ideological and ontological crisis. Therefore, there is an implied suggestion that, black Africans must return to the source and champion their consciousness and reach for a higher self. I’d say it presents us with some answers and clues.

Pula!

Ase!

 

‘Ankobia’ premiered at Rhodes Theatre for NAF 2017, and will be on at the Market Theatre until the 13th August 2017. To book tickets visit: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1472721880

Show information:

Co-writers: Monageng Vice Motshabi & Omphile Molusi
Director: Monageng Vice Motshabi

Performers:
Katlego Letsholonyana
Alfred Motlhapi
Billy Langa
Lillian Tshabalala
Momo Matsunyane
Omphile Molusi

THE MOVEMENT RSA would like to thank Lucky for his contribution towards One Person’s Opinion!

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La Boheme

By Nyakallo Motloung

Although I am a big theatre goer, I am a novice with regards to opera and that is why I was excited when I was invited to the opening night of La Boheme at the Joburg Theatre. La Boheme is an age-old but timeless love and loss story between a young couple, Rodolfo and Mimi. The opera is a Gauteng Opera production directed by Marcus Desando, music by the Gauteng Opera Orchestra and conducted by Eddie Clayton. The cast consists of local performers and they really sold me there. I had never seen an opera live and to see the mainly black cast list got me even more excited and internally, I was singing Solange Knowles’ F.U.B.U. But, I digress. Additionally, being a lover of poor theatre, it is always a great experience for me to see the other side of the game, consisting of grand sets and costumes.

So I sat in my seat with great expectations, awaiting the show to start. The curtain opened and I saw a simple but lovely set. I could tell instantly that the opera had been modernised as I saw the chic apartment of Rodolfo and Macello and their modern costume. Unfortunately my heart sank a bit as I struggled to hear the male performers in the beginning and was not helped much by the confusing subtitles. Performers’ lack of projection on stage always makes me feel as though I am looking from the outside on an inside joke, which is very isolating. But I was not deterred, I sat on the edge of my seat and adjusted my concentration from 100 to 110. However, I was instantly taken by Marcello (Solly Motaung) whose voice and physicality was a pleasure to watch throughout the show. His charm went beyond his character. Motaung’s presence on stage and ability to engage the audience was really satisfying to watch. A trait which I was expecting more from Rodolfo (Phenye Modiane) who was the leading man and protagonist of the show. He truly has a beautiful voice and his interactions with Mimi really warmed my heart. However, there is a gentleness in Rodolfo that I feel Modiane played too far and as a result, made him shrink on stage. His actions were too small and there was a lack of commitment in them that made me want to listen to rather than watch him.

However, I was really blown away by Mimi (Khayakazi Madlala). What a star. Her voice really gave me a visceral reaction. I could not hold back from shouting “YAAS GIRL” when she hit those high notes and I would like to apologise to the two ladies who sat beside me. But also, #SorryNotSorry. We had been told that Madlala is a second year student at Gauteng Opera it is such a pleasure to see a new talent who I hope will go very far. Not only was I taken by her voice but also by how well her physicality connected to her voice. The same can be said for the gorgeous Musetta (Litho Nqai). My goodness! I just loved her vocal range and the way she took control of the stage. It was not only in the writing but also in the body of Nqai. As I stated, I am but an eager novice in the world of opera but I am a self-proclaimed expert in spotting performers enjoying themselves on stage; which was what drew me to Motaung, Madlala and Nqai.

My (very high) expectations were not met fully but overall, I enjoyed the show and I have learnt that I really need to watch more opera. Really! I would definitely recommend the show, especially to opera lovers. You have a chance to do so at the beautiful Mandela Theatre at the Joburg Theatre from the 20 – 23rd of July.

Get your tickets at https://www.joburgtheatre.com/la-boheme

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Reviewing Reviewers

By Binnie Christie, on behalf of The Movement RSA

As suggested by the name of our artistic collective, The Movement RSA seeks to move beyond our artistic comfort zones into new creative territories. One of these territories being writing which critically engages with the arts; aka ‘blogging’. Thus in 2017 we will be writing and releasing several articles, reviews and reflections which investigate all things theatre in South Africa

We believe that in order to make work, artists need to see work. Someone who has never been to the theatre, or who has not been to the theatre for a whiiiiiile, should not expect to make a show which is altogether relevant, new, or exciting compared to its current counterparts. By engaging with others we engage ourselves, assessing our work and its place (if any) in the industry.

By blogging The Movement RSA wishes to open up a space for all to engage in a critical conversation about art, I particular theatre. After watching a show, friends, family, partners and strangers will discuss or debate what they’ve seen, exposing themselves to different opinions and deeply interrogating all aspects of the production. These conversations are useful for audiences to digest what they’ve consumed, and critical for the creators to assess, affirm or improve their production. Our work is a product, and the audience are our consumers, so to feed their hearts, minds and soul we must cater and listen to them. Blogging allows an ongoing conversation where direct feedback such as Previews or Q+A’s are not possible.

A great motivation behind this project is that presently The Movement RSA feels there is a lack of diversity within local theatre critique, creating a monopoly of certain voices. When Googling “theatre critics in South Africa” the second website to appear is an article on Thought Leader by Sandile Memela entitled ‘Africa Has No Critics’(1). Though written eight years ago, the title and body of the piece point to several of current concerns, and begs important questions, such as: “where are the African critics, especially the young ones?”

It is problematic that the loudest voices seemingly come from a similar social background: middle-aged, privileged and white. I know this is ironic, given I’m at least two of those things, but the aim is to change all this, and this is only the first article of the blog after all…

The Movement RSA does not mean in any way to take away from the work of established critics; in fact we wish to do the opposite, and add to it. Nor do we pretend to be as knowledgeable, but perhaps we aim to be… We have opinions, and Wi-Fi (most of the time), and a dream for more audiences, artists and writers to engage with each other, given the incredible range of opinions out there.

To achieve this, our blog will be open to anyone who wishes to submit writing, or just leave a comment. The nine members of The Movement RSA seldomly agree on anything, particularly theatre, and so in keeping with the spirit of contradiction we invite you to join our great theatrical conversation.

All submissions will be showcased on our blog and social media sites (2), understanding that:

  • Our aim is to build, not to knock down. No person can bash another person or work without suggesting ways they feel the work may have been better built (an architect doesn’t destroy a building without a better model in place).
  • Our opinions are valid, provided they provide validation (i.e. – our opinions are not feelings; they must be backed by evidence). We don’t need Harvard referencing, just an example or two to substantiate your ideas.
  • Let’s encourage critical engagement of theatre, grow the artists and audiences, and hear some different voices.

One writer is one voice. Many writers could be a revolution… But to get there we need individuals to have their say. Therefore the blog will be entitled “One Man’s Opinion”. Or “One Woman’s Opinion” depending… Actually, let’s call it:

 ONE PERSON’S OPINION

What do you think? ‘Hate it or love it’ we’d like your 50 cents. So comment, share or write to us with your own stuff (using the email address the.movement.rsa.blog@gmail.com and the heading “One Person’s Opinion”).

 

References:

1) Link to Memela’s Article: http://thoughtleader.co.za/sandilememela/2009/08/12/the-african-continent-has-no-theater-critics/

2)  Find The Movement RSA on other social media sites:

Facebook Page: The Movement RSA (https://www.facebook.com/TheMovementRSA/)

Facebook Group: The Movement RSA (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1670441406538217/)

Twitter: The Movement RSA. @MovementRSA (https://twitter.com/MovementRSA)

Instagram: The Movement RSA. @the.movemet.rsa (https://www.instagram.com/the.movement.rsa/?hl=en)

3) The article image of ‘Shakespeare vs. the critic’ is taken from ATCA (American Theatre Critics Association): http://americantheatrecritics.org/