Fest sees intellectual wordplay at its best

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to ca three little pigs_CITY_E1-a The Three Little Pigs.

WOORDFEES is literally exactly what the word suggests, a festival of words. While the primary focus is the written word, it encompasses everything from films to poetry and theatre.

While most of the theatre work presented on this platform is done in Afrikaans, other languages are represented, especially in how they relate to Afrikaans. The theme of language as more than just a means of communication, but expression of identity, comes across in works like An(t)oniem.

The Mechanicals received critical acclaim for their first Afrikaans play and Albert Maritz directs the repertory company in two Afrikaans plays at this year’s festival. Deksels was written by Leon Kruger and stars Carel Nel and Tinarie van Wyk Loots, while Pieter Fourie’s Die Koggelaar, written in 1988, will find a new audience in its interrogation of the Afrikaner psyche.

Based on Andre Brink’s novel, Saartjie Botha’s adaptation of Bidsprinkaan (directed by Janice Honeyman) made an impression at the Suidoosterfees and another festival favourite, Nicola Hanekom’s Hol, will also be presented.

While there is talk of adapting Hol for an English audience, the one-woman play is predicated heavily on wordplay which would be difficult to translate into English. The title already presents a problem in that it means both “to run” and that something “is hollow” or “empty”, and you can see the problems this densely layered play would present the translator.

Fresh off the success of his Kingdom of Earth production, Fred Abrahams directs Antoinette Kellerman in another Tennessee Williams work, Die Melktrein Stop nie Hier nie (The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore) and there are three more adaptations of US works.

Birrie le Roux has turned Sam Shepherd’s Cowboy Mouth into Heiland; Martelize Kolver has translated David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama Rabbit Hole into Hasepad; and Harold Pinter’s Homecoming is now Huis Toe.

Tara Notcutt’s The Three Little Pigs is very much an English play, but the taut psychological thriller is so rooted in the South African reality and makes such gorgeous use of wordplay, that it makes sense to present it at a festival about words.

• Woordfees takes place from Friday to March 10 in Stellenbosch at various venues. Check www.woordfees.co.za for the programme, which includes 44 theatrical productions.

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