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The KwaZulu-Natal chapter of the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (Pansa) will host the seventh Musho International Theatre Festival at Durban’s Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf from January 11 to 15.
Sixteen productions, all celebrating the art of solo and two-hander plays, will be presented over five days.
Musho – the name is taken from the Zulu word for an enthusiastic praise response, similar to “bravo” – embraces most accepted forms of theatre: from mime to physical theatre, drama to comedy. It pays tribute to smaller works .
After extensive research, Pansa realised that a festival early in the year, staging more intimate theatrical productions, was considered a useful and exciting start to the year by performers and audiences alike.
Musho benefits the performers, as staging their shows and collecting reviews early in the year helps them for future seasons of the production through the year.
Audiences love seeing an array of fabulous theatre at the beginning of the year when calendars are quiet and the festive flurry is over.
“The first six festivals, held every January since 2006, were astonishingly inspiring and successful with some fabulous productions and amazing support,” says festival director Emma Durden.
These are intimate productions that showcase the skill of theatre performance and storytelling, as well as covering a wide range of styles.
This year’s festival line-up includes works by South African, Dutch and Indian performers, one of the highlights being a 2011 Hilton Arts Festival hit, The Slapkoejawel and other Tit Bits, to be presented at 8pm on January 14.
Created and performed by Annelisa Weiland and Vanessa Cooke, it is directed by Robert Whitehead.
This absurdly funny and touching play finds two stressed-out actresses, of a certain age, in a tatty dressing room, preparing for the preview of a new South African play – a work not without its problems.
Can they pull it off without losing what is left of their marbles?
Also among standouts at this year’s festival is Bru, scheduled for 6pm on January 14, which tells of two surfer dudes as they escape the purgatory of the concrete jungle of Joburg in search of the freedom of the waves.
It is said to be a fun romp, a high-energy physical theatre piece written and directed by Josh Martin. It is performed by Sandi Dlangala and Mikey Frederick von Bardeleben.
More physical theatre is to be presented in Les Pigeons, which apparently takes a startling look into the underground world of ornithological communism, from within the minds of two in-patients.
Wit and excellent comic timing characterise this interrogation into the uselessness of military interventions in times of change.
Created and performed by Ryan Mayne and Tristan Jacobs, the 45-minute work is scheduled to be presented at 6pm on January 15.
The festival includes six Twist Theatre Development Project shows, written and directed by award-winning theatre practitioners such as Zwai Mgigima, Amy Jephta, Themi Venturas, Jerry Pooe and Neil Coppen.
Among them is My Life in Pictures, lined up for noon on January 15, which is a drama about a journalist who uncovers a deadly secret that exposes a criminal gang lord.
His faithful henchman has no choice but to turn on the man he thought was his protector.
Created by Uthando Lwabaqulusi with Bheki Mkhwane, and based on an original script by Themba Mkhoma, My Life in Pictures runs for 30 minutes.
Also try to see i-Puppeti, a fun show aimed at primary and pre-primary children that explores many types of puppets and puppetry – including sock, hand, stick, string, shadow and giant puppets.
Written by Clinton Marius, writer and creator of Lotus FM’s hit daily comedy soapie, Lollipop Lane, and the multi-award winning children’s play, The Fantastical Flea Circus, the new play teaches children valuable lessons about self-acceptance, friendship, listening to parents, eating healthily, exercising, how damaging bullying can be and that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
The play stars two of Lollipop Lane’s much-loved performers, Shika Budhoo and Mpume Mthombeni, and is directed by Marius.
Also aimed at the young is Mistero Buffo, Andrew Buckland’s wonderful adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo’s controversial work. It combines the grotesque comedy of Italian medieval performance traditions with razor-sharp contemporary satire.
The play criticises the repression of religious institutions and land-owning classes throughout history.
Adapted and performed by Buckland, this intriguing hour-long work will be presented at the festival at 8pm on January 13.
The festival is organised by Pansa KZN with support from The Daily News; eThekwini Municipality; the KZN Department of Arts and Culture; Business and Arts South Africa; Twist; and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
For more details about the festival, visit the website at www.mushofestival.co.za or drop an e-mail to email@example.com.
l For bookings, show times and details contact Wilson’s Wharf’s Catalina Theatre at 031 305 6889.