Sexuality, discrimination and coming of age are some of the subjects that will be laid bare in an upcoming theatre production that aims to speak right to the hearts of people.
Bare: The Musical will be given a new lease on life when it is performed from June 11 by students of the Tshwane University of Technology at the Breytenbach Theatre in Pretoria.
A newer version of the production was first staged in 2012 Off-Broadway at the New World Stages. It features music by Damon Intrabartolo, with lyrics and book being penned by Jon Hartmere.
It tells the story of a group of teens who attend a co-ed Catholic boarding school as they find their way around issues of identity, sexuality, and religion.
As they are in their final year of school, the story sees them navigate the consequences of some of their actions as they journey into adulthood.
Dr Rostislava Pashkevitch, a lecturer and acting head of department at the university’s Department of Performing Arts (Musical Theatre), doubles as the musical director of this production.
The decision to stage this musical, revered for its focus on the LGBTI+ community, was due to the music, Pashkevitch said. She added that the production had been tweaked, only slightly, in order for it to resonate better with local audiences.
“The director of the show, Hulisani Ndou, has used his vision to bring the production back home and to alter it to speak to South Africans’ day to day lifestyle,” she said.
Pashkevitch explained that one of the ways they managed to navigate the at times serious and challenging aspects of the production was for them to remember that it is, above all else, a story about love.
“Above everything else, the production is about love. Using the script of Romeo and Juliet as a classic example of a tragic love story, the production takes us on a journey where we are introduced to different characters and their dreams dressed in prayer.
“The entire show is built on Gregorian chants which are in total contradiction with punk, rock and funk styles. The character of the Priest, for example, is the total opposite of the character of Sister Chantelle, which again shows the role of the female which is more understanding and accommodating to the students.”
She said it was important to recognise the relevance of a production like Bare in 2019 because its themes mirror the experiences, in some ways, of society in South Africa today.
“It would be quite narrow-minded to identify the issues which are a lifestyle of every teenager and suggest that they exist only in the production.
Society, religion, dogma, conservative perceptions are part of our lives and the production touches on all those aspects. “We did not face issues in the execution of these key aspects of the production.
“The students embraced the music and this allowed them to grow as performers by learning to transfer their skills in order to perform other musical styles,” she said.
The students who make up the cast of Bare: The Musical are first to third-year students who are currently studying musical theatre at the university.
They are mentored on this journey by a creative team of lecturers made up of producer and music director Pashkevitch; director Ndou; choreographer Bryan Mtsweni and sound designer Ivan Batchvarov.
On audiences coming to see the show, Pashkevitch said: “The audience should be very open-minded and hear the voice of the youth.
We all should understand that at the end this is about one voice, one truth, one love.”
Tickets are R100 (adults), R50 (students and pensioners) and are available from www.webticket.co.za.
Email [email protected] or call 0123822630/ 082884 8946 during office hours. Age restriction is 18+ (due to sensitive content). The production is presented in association with DALRO.