Lisa Bobbert (Pearl) and Aleks Robertson as Pearls son in Shades.

FORMING part of the 18th South African Women’s Art Festival at the Playhouse is the production Shades, starring popular stage actress Lisa Bobbert, Jane Ross, Louis van Eeden and Aleks Robertson.

Written by Sharman Macdonald and directed by Ralph Lawson, Shades is a thought-provoking play that portrays a young widow, Pearl (Bobbert), who bitterly resents her husband for dying and leaving her with the prospect of a lonely old age.

Like many women in her position, Pearl is frightened by the onset of middle age and prepares frantically for a special night out, which changes her life completely.

Tonight chatted to Bobbert about the production and her reasons for wanting to play the role of Pearl.

Elaborating on the storyline, Bobbert says the play is fitting for the festival because so many women will be able to relate to it: “The relationship between the mom (Pearl) and the little boy is a human interest story. You see the psychology that goes on between the middle-aged mom and the 10-year-old son. And because there’s no dad, there’s such pressure for the boy to be the man of the house at a young age.

“Even though he’s only 10, he has to grow up quickly. Also, Pearl’s mother is very demanding, critical and overbearing, and you can see that Pearl is also the same way with her son. So it’s a very psychological look at Pearl, the son and the granny. You can see how the generations have affected each other.”

The character Bobbert portrays is very lonely and dark. I ask the actress what her thoughts were on reading the script, and if the play has some light-hearted moments to offset the weighty subject matter.

“When I read the script, I couldn’t put it down. I was engrossed in it the first time I read it. I started crying at some parts. It’s such an interesting story, and I can definitely relate to it. It’s real food for thought.”

Bobbert says the play’s director, Lawson, has amazing insight: “He really made me understand every line and every sentence. He has a discussion around each sentence, and he makes you look at all the layers of the character. I have only worked with Ralph in big musicals before, but this play is very real, and I love the attention to detail.”

Bobbert says audiences who come to see the play will have a thought-provoking evening in store.

Women’s Arts Fest

Shades stages at the Playhouse Women’s Arts Fest from August 28 to 31. The fest opens on Friday and runs until August 31. Some of the highlights this year include:

MUSIC: For a musical treat featuring some of the biggest names on stage, don’t miss the Gala Concert at the Opera theatre on Wednesday, August 27, where leading kwaito group Mafikizolo tops the bill.

DANCE: Mark Hawkins’ presentation From Then ’Til Now is an artistic work that honours and celebrates the many people and issues that have helped mould South Africa into the country it is today.

CHILDREN’S THEATRE: The Playhouse Company’s Children’s Theatre Fun Day, for children aged 6 to 12, takes place between 10am and 2pm on August 23. It promises to be a lot of fun. It includes a movement workshop, drumming, face-painting, puppetry and loads of entertainment. Tickets are R50 a child.