Coronavirus inspires socially distanced theatre

Darion Adams and Crystal Finck in MODORENAI which runs at Theatre Arts from 14 to 18 October. Photo credit: Jesse Kramer.

In a local first, the Coronavirus has inspired a new season of socially distanced theatre.

Five new performance works have been created in response to lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions, thanks to an initiative by Theatre Arts.

Renowned as an inclusive, accessible platform for artists to develop new work, lockdown was no exception, and Theatre Arts once again championed an innovative campaign with the Creating Theatre in the Age of Corona series. A call was made for artists to propose physically distanced performances. Five have been selected for presentation and the programme features a captivating range of dance, movement, theatre and installation.

This programme has been made possible by Gordon Hirschowitz.

The series starts on 10 October with Craig Leo and Robin Kirsten’s NOTHING IS HERE featuring Unmute Dance Company and Ukwanda Puppets and Design Art Collective. From 14 to 18 October, Rafé Green presents MODORENAI. This is followed with CWAKA from 22 October, directed by Qondiswa James and developed in collaboration with a stellar creative team. Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout presents SYNDESI from 11 to 14 November, with Megan Furniss and Louise Westerhout rounding off the series with MURMURATIONS from 2 to 5 December.

“This season is not about lockdown and Covid but a response to the challenges and restrictions artists face in presenting theatre at this time,” says Caroline Calburn Director of Theatre Arts.

“This is live performance that takes at its heart the idea that artists and audience need to remain physically distanced, at least two metres apart, and how we can meet and still be social, just not physically close to each other. This project rebels against the notion that theatre needs to take to the screen in order to survive during this time. Never have we been asked to rethink the concept of theatre and experiment more.

“With only fifteen seats available at each performance to keep within the confines of social distancing, we have found that audiences are experiencing theatre at a different level – intimate, exclusive, almost with a new purity of engagement. It also means seating is strictly limited so booking early is advisable.”

The line-up for Creating Theatre in the Age of Corona:

NOTHING IS HERE
Saturday 10 to Sunday 11 October (16h00 & 19h00 on 10 Oct; 15h00 & 18h00 on 11 Oct)

An experimental piece that takes nothing as its subject matter, performed in and around an architectural sculpture comprised of multiple doors by Robin Kirsten, titled Study for a Museum of Opening Doors.

Conceived and created by Craig Leo and Robin Kirsten, NOTHING IS HERE is developed in collaboration with Unmute Dance Company and includes Ukwanda Puppets and Design Art Collective. It is choreographed by Themba Mbuli and performed by Siphenathi Mayekiso and Andile Vellem.

MODORENAI
Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 October (19h00)
MODORENAI, a Japanese word that translates as ‘we cannot return’, explores different states of mind around touch and finding ways to come to terms with the enforced distance placed between people. This movement piece looks at how touch becomes more than a physical gesture, and transforms into emotional, psychological, spiritual connections with others. MODORENAI is conceived, choreographed and directed by Rafé Green, and performed and co-created with Darion Adams and Crystal Finck.

CWAKA
Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 October (22,23,24 Oct 19h30; 25 Oct 15h00)
Two sisters, twins in their late 20s, have grown up estranged from each other. When their birthmother goes missing, they begin to share dreams and must rescue their mother from a fear demon in the ancestral realm together. CWAKA is conceived and directed by Qondiswa James and co-written by the artistic team. It features Tankiso Mamabolo and Namisa Mdlalose with sound design by Gugulethu Duma and music performed by Sibahle Sky Dladla. Set design and lighting is by Themba Stewart.

SYNDESI
Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 November
SYNDESI is a dance work that explores the idea of relationship through space and the different ways of maintaining connection and cohesion despite physical separation. It is conceived, created, choreographed and directed by Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout and performed by Celeste Botha, Sasha Fourie Myburgh and Tamsyn Spannenberg.

MURMURATIONS
Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 December
Conceived, created and facilitated by theatremaker, director and storyteller Megan Furniss and performance artist, poet and curator, Louise Westerhout MURMURATIONS explores unanswerable questions. Must we grant you permission? Are we oroborus; eating our own tails? Are we lying? Is this beautiful? Is it the healing or the offering?

Tickets to all performances cost R100 and can be purchased at https://theatrearts.co.za

Bookings must be made online in keeping with Covid-19 protocols and no cash sales are available at the door. For booking queries contact 082 752 1376.

Doors open fifteen minutes before the start of the performances. No latecomers can be admitted.

Covid-19 protocols are observed including social distancing, temperature checks, taking of contact details and audience members must wear masks.

Theatre Arts is situated at Methodist Church Hall, corner of Milton Road and Wesley Street, Observatory, Cape Town. Parking is available in the area.

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Theatre Arts

Built on the tenets of affordability, inclusivity and accessibility, Theatre Arts is a home for local theatre practitioners – a place where they can create work, develop skills, perform, generate income, engage in dialogue and meet and work with theatre practitioners who come from diverse backgrounds, whether cultural, social, economic or simply in skill and experience.

Theatre Arts is an organic model and successful training ground for re-conceptualising what a theatre institution in South Africa can be and how it can sustain itself.

One of its flagship initiatives, in partnership with the Baxter Theatre Centre and the Distell Foundation, was the Emerging Theatre Director’s Bursary, which was initiated in 2010 and ran for 10 years. This provided an opportunity for four emerging directors annually to each create a new piece of work under mentorship. Drawing applications nationally, this was a unique and much needed bursary.

Visit https://theatrearts.co.za
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Artist Bios

NOTHING IS HERE
Robin Kirsten is an artist working in experimental museology. Bringing together collections of objects, images and text, he constructs narratives that reflect on the relationship between the artists studio, the idea of ‘world’, and models of the universe. Within these frameworks and contexts, his work constructs meaning out of the nothingness of production, as an observation about the nature of reality, and everything in it.

Craig Leo is a South African theatre designer, puppeteer and performing artist teaming up with Magnet Theatre, Jazzart Dance Theatre, Mothertongue Project, Janni Younge Productions and The Handspring Puppet Company. Craig has continued his relationship with The Royal National Theatre as Associate Director of Puppetry for War Horse. Recent work Includes puppetry design and direction for Elliot Harper’s, The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe for The Leeds Playhouse and The Bridge Theatre in London as well as puppeteer in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Re-Imagined for The Shakespeare’s Globe, London.

MODORENAI
Rafé Luke Green is a 24-year-old Master’s student at the University of Cape Town. They have spent the last six years in Grahamstown studying and performing – under the likes of Gary Gordon, Andrew Buckland, and Juanita Finestone-Praeg. Their main interest in theatre lies in the politics and poetics of connection and relation. They have performed and helped choreograph for works at the National Arts Festival and Jomba! Dance Festival and have performed at the Cape Town Fringe Festival. Their fields of specialisation include Physical Performance, Choreography and Writing.

CWAKA
Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, instillation artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. She is currently studying her Masters in Live Art, Interdisciplinary and Public Art at the Institute of Creative Arts. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilising transgression.

SYNDESI
Shirley-Anne Bezuidenhout trained in ballet and contemporary dance both in the U.K and at UCT where she completed her degree in choreography and movement notation. She has since freelanced as a dancer and choreographer for festivals and events in Cape Town. Bodies in movement is what excites and drives her so in between performance opportunities she has started exploring dance films under Yellow Frame Films as a platform to create and showcase dance more regularly.

MURMURATIONS
Megan Furniss makes things up. She is a playwright, performer, improviser, director and storyteller. She has written two novels, many plays, and has even won awards for acting and making theatre.

Louise Westerhout is a performance artist, published poet, curator, therapist, cancer survivor, disabled person,yogi, Reiki Master. Her work is dedicated to exploration on themes of consciousness, environment, healing, the body. She is the founder, director and curator of Body Politic which has, since its inception in 2018 shown the work of 61 artists.

Artslink.co.za Account:
Christine Skinner
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Theatre Arts
https://theatrearts.co.za

Web site:https://theatrearts.co.zaRelated Venue:
Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Methodist Hall cnr Milton Road, Wesley Street Observatory Cape Town Western Cape South Africa

Robin Kirsten and Craig Leo, creators of NOTHING IS HERE which runs at Theatre Arts on 10 and 11 October. Photo credit: Jesse Kramer.
Robin Kirsten and Craig Leo, creators of NOTHING IS HERE which runs at Theatre Arts on 10 and 11 October. Photo credit: Jesse Kramer.
Darion Adams and Crystal Finck in MODORENAI which runs at Theatre Arts from 14 to 18 October. Photo credit: Jesse Kramer.
Darion Adams and Crystal Finck in MODORENAI which runs at Theatre Arts from 14 to 18 October. Photo credit: Jesse Kramer.