THE Musho! International Theatre Festival is all set to start Durban’s theatre calendar with a bang.
This year the fest runs from tomorrow to January 20 at the Catalina Theatre. Now in its ninth edition, the festival will feature a great line-up of local and inter- national shows, as well as per- formance art and workshops for artists.
Tonight caught up with festival director Emma Durden to learn more about what this year’s programme has in store.
“This year we had 52 formal entries and a lot more enquiries. It seems the reputation of the festival is continually growing, as this is the highest number of entries we have had to date,” says Durden.
“Throughout the year we had queries about the festival from South Africa, Zimbabwe and a number of European countries. We are delighted that the festival has a growing profile around the world. We have two pieces from the Netherlands this year, and would love to host more international acts, but this is always dependent on finding independent funding to cover the flight costs of bringing artists out.”
Durden said they always try to find a strong mix of shows.
“What is exciting about this year’s programme is the content of the shows. We have some focusing on family, child-rearing and adolescence and others that look at crime, race relations, religion and money – good controversial topics that should make for some great theatre.”
This year Gisele Turner’s eLimboland opens the festival.
“For the opening of the festival we always try to find something we think talks about contemporary experience. Although eLimboland is set in an imaginary kind of purgatory, we think the theme of understanding your past to be able to move into your future is something we can all relate to.
“There is political relevance to this piece, although it is not an overtly political overtone to the show. We are looking to a good piece of comedy that allows us to laugh at some of our failings as South Africans who sometimes struggle to reconcile the past and the present.
The writer/director, Gisele Turner, has a great reputation as a writer, and one of the actors, Jem Atkins, is well known for his stand-up comedy” explained Durden.
Durden said there is a long history of exchange between Dutch and South African artists, and Musho! has hosted a number of shows from the Netherlands.
“We are able to do so again through support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, through Twist Projects. The two pieces are very different. Dette in Africa is an exploration of what money means and talks about how the artists created a show about money in Europe, and then came to perform it in Africa. The piece was performed in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, and found a sense of universal thinking about money despite the vastly different circumstances people live in.
“In this time of international belt-tightening we thought it would be nice to see something which talks artistically about money rather than simply worrying about it.
“Freeze! is another unusual choice for the festival. In the past we have steered away from conceptual performance art, but the reviews of this piece and comments from previous audience members seemed to make this an attractive choice.
“It allows our audiences to see something unusual and, by all accounts, really moving, so we are excited about hosting Nick Steur, who is passionate about stones, which form the focus of his piece, and to see how he resonates with a local audience.”
Development in the arts is a central part of the Musho! fest. This year Musho! extends its development arm to investing in future directors.
“The new Director’s Develop- ment Project is an extension of the development programme that Musho! ran last year. It is not part of the Twist Project, which focuses on community groups, but is a Pansa (Performing Arts Network of South Africa) initiative sponsored by the Arts and Culture Trust and tries to encourage young graduates who are breaking into the professional field, and to provide opportunities for these young people who often find it difficult to find a space on an already crowded South African theatre stage.
“From a number of these young writer/directors who applied we selected Mtho Zulu, a Durban University of Technology graduate and accomplished actor whose work we have not seen before. Mtho selected Daisy Spencer as his mentor, as he had worked under her direction in Boesman and Lena and enjoys her working style, as well as feeling he needed assistance with choreography for his piece. As Daisy is an award-winning choreo- grapher, it was a perfect fit.
“The other selected writer and director is Wiseman Ngcube who won an award for his performance in Bra Six-Two at Musho! in 2012, and since then has continued with acting, writing and directing. His work has featured at a number of community-based theatre festivals and arts centres. We felt he would benefit from having mentorship from an experienced professional who would encourage him with developing his self-penned work to a new level. Wiseman chose to work with Roel Twijnstra. Roel is a Dutch director who has settled in Durban. He has worked as a director all over the world, and published many books on directing, so for Wiseman this is a great opportunity to work with somebody with years of experience of working in different contexts and with different genres.”
MUSHO! FESTIVAL AT A GLANCE:
(See full article on Page 5)
of the Edinburgh Festival. Dutch performance artist Nick Steur balances rocks on top of each other to a suspenseful commentary. Performance art. Between 30 and 70 minutes. Ages 12 and up. An outdoor performance.
Written and directed by Mthokozisi
Zulu. Mentored by Daisy Spencer. Drama/physical theatre. 50 minutes. Ages 14 and up.
60 minutes. All ages.
TWIST DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME:
with a Twist/New Directors’ Development Project are on a
pay-what-you-can basis. Book
at 031 837 5999.