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THE SUIDOOSTERFEES (SOF) has grown in stature over the past 10 years to become an annual celebration of Afrikaans arts in Cape Town.
This year the festival continues to encompass music, literature, whirling dervishes, a live radio broadcast of a nostalgic look at the Eoan Group and even food, but it is the newly commissioned theatre work that is most exciting.
Athol Fugard’s first Afrikaans play, Die Laaste Karretjiegraf, written in collaboration with Riana Steyn, will get a full run at the Fugard next month, but it was commissioned by the Suidoosterfees and kicks off with previews as part of the festival.
Adam Small’s intensely personal Orange Earth – his only English, previously unpublished play – contains autobiographic elements and the title refers to the colour of the soil in the Robertson area where he lived as a child.
The play centres on the memories of a man accused of murder after he plants a bomb in a shopping centre. In the court and prison cells, his thoughts turn the past and the orange-red soil of his birth.
The lyrical and dreamlike drama of memory and injustice is directed by Matthew Wild and features Oscar Petersen (pictured left,) Quanita Adams, Albert Pretorius and Andrew Laubscher. (SOF Lion of Africa Theatre at the Fugard, January 30, February 1 and 3).
Janice Honeyman directs Bidsprinkaan, which Saartjie Botha has adapted for the stage from the Andre Brink novel of 2005. Elton Landrew tackles the role of Kupido Kakkerlak, the Khoikhoi convert who became a missionary in the early 1800s in Graaff-Reinet.
Gys de Villiers, Gideon Lombard and Lee Ann van Rooi round out the stage characters at SOF Lion of Africa Theatre, The Fugard (January 31, February 2 and 3).
Christiaan Olwagen’s X&Y (co-sponsored by Woordfees) premieres on Sunday, February 3, for one performance only at the kykNet Teater. High school pupils from across the Western Cape won the chance to act with professional actors Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Stian Bam and Tinarie van Wyk Loots, under the direction of Marthinus Basson, in a play which interrogates how adults and children interact in a world in which youth face challenges their parents never dreamt of.
Lizz Meiring has adapted Steve Hofmeyr’s book 4 Briewe aan Jan Ellis to create a one-man show for Christo Davids to show his mettle. (Artscape Arena, January 31 and February 3).
In addition to these commissioned pieces, there are also plays which owe their genesis to other festivals as well as the tenacity of their creators.
Pieter Fourie’s Mooi Maria, directed by Albert Maritz, stars Anthea Thompson, who picked up a Best Actress award for her portrayal of the eponymous character. Thompson and Roeline Daneel both portray Maria at the same time in this at times funny drama which won Best Production at Aardklop in 2011. This is the first time the drama is performed in Cape Town (kykNET Teater, February 2 and 3).
My Naam is Ellen Pakkies sold out performances at last year’s fest and returns for two more (kykNET Teater, February 2 and 3).
The acclaimed Naaimasjien was first performed at the Suidoosterfees four years ago and Sandra Prinsloo recently returned from performing the English version of the one-woman play (The Sewing Machine) at the Edinburgh Festival (February 1 and 3).
Marlo Minnaar was nominated for Best Upcoming Artist at last year’s KKNK for his portrayal of a young boy who questions just what is normal in Af (Artscape Arena, January 31 and February 2), as was Christiaan Olwagen for producing the cabaret Vagina Dentata which comes to a Cape Town theatre (Artscape Arena, February 1, 2, 3).
• The kykNET teater is the Artscape Theatre.
• Suidoosterfees plays at various venues in Cape Town from January 29 to Feb 3. See suidooster fees.co.za for the full programme or get a fest booklet at the city library, Artscape, The Fugard Theatre or Computicket.