Cape Town Fringe gets physical
Artists taking part in the inaugural Cape Town Fringe festival are putting their bodies – and hearts – on the line in a wide-range of physical theatre and performance art productions, set to run from 25 September 5 October.
Highlights from the programme include:
• Exhibit S–Ode to Saartjie Baartman by a black South African woman: Thola Antamu’s production gives imaginative voice to the figure of Saartjie Baartman.
• Mick Jagger Is My Nightmare: Marius Mensink creates a “push-me-pull-you punch-up” with the persona of global rock icon and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
• Whistle Stop: Ameera Patel’s tale of love interweaves romance, insecurity, doubt and infatuation.
• #omnomnom: Visceral provocateur Gavin Krastin’s performance piece juxtaposes religion and food with the naked body.
Movement and physical expression are the central thrust in these powerful works of performance art and physical theatre. Performers draw directly on the use of the body as a communicative device to translate the narrative thread.
Exhibit S–Ode to Saartjie Baartman by a black South African woman is a poetic performance piece inspired by “misrepresentation, art and the story of Saartjie Baartman”, says the work’s creator Antamu.
Saartjie was born in the Eastern Cape in 1789 – exactly 200 years before Antamu. Both of them were orphaned as children. Saartjie was taken to England, where she was exhibited as an exotic “show piece”. Exhibit S is Saartjie’s story fused with Amtamu’s own and is told through “speech, skin and movement”.
And it is movement that drives Mensink’s extraordinarily physical piece, Mick Jagger Is My Nightmare. Mensink, a graduate of the Theatre Academy Maastricht, performed Jagger at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival last year, where it won a Silver Award. Fascinated by Jagger’s “strange, unexpected and a-rhythmical movements”, Mensink started “trying to move like him, trying to sound like him, and trying to imitate his presence”.
“I soon realised it is very hard to do this because my body and my way of moving is very different to his,” Mensink says. “I felt my body really had to fight to try and embody him. I found that the effort of trying to imitate him was more interesting than actually imitating him.”
As a result, his piece represents the conflict that would result if Jagger tried to enter his body: “Sometimes I really feel that Mick is in there trying to get out.”
Ameera Patel’s Whistle Stop takes audiences into the darker recesses of the twisted mind, with her absurdist script brought powerfully to life in collaboration with fellow performer Jacques de Silva and director Francis Slabolepszy.
“I think in the way that all theatre works, the script is the jumping-off point, an important aspect, but nothing without the magic of relationship on stage. Jacques’ physical intuition and Francis’s careful balancing of the entire piece, were as essential in creating this piece as the writing was,” Patel says. “I wanted to explore archetypal relationships, which dip in and out of specificity. This meant that it was easier to write about a distanced couple as opposed to my personal encounters.”
Whistle Stop received a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award in Grahamstown this year, with Patel garnering a special writers’ award.
Gavin Krastin’s provocative performance piece #omnomnom transforms spatial relations between and within the body, and its embodiment of the surrounding context. Employing a site-specific approach, Krastin adapts the work to the latent symbols within the space in which it is performed. “Often the performer has limited control over the venue for site-based work and this is where the artistry comes in,” says Krastin.
This intensely visceral work mythologises the artist’s body, presenting it as “meat and land for participating spectators to mark, exploit, colonise and devour”, says Krastin on his blog. During the performance, audience members are invited to partake in various dishes placed on Krastin’s naked body – the artist as human platter.
The work was a winner of a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
Other physical theatre and performance art productions on the Cape Town Fringe: !Kai- A Little Death (Jungle Theatre Company), Being Norm (Richard Antrobus), Crazy in Love (A Conspiracy of Clowns), Door of Gold (Tebogo Munyai), Lunch (Sakhisizwe Edutainment Productions), Mouche (ZikkaZimba), Mourning Glory (Garage Collective), Piet se Optelgoed (Liezl de Kock).
NOTE TO EDITORS
The Cape Town Fringe has been brought to life through a partnership between the National Arts Festival and the City of Cape Town and is supported by Standard Bank and MNet. It is structured around a globally accepted formula for Fringe Festivals and is a selected Fringe which gives producers the opportunity to stage small productions under a financially viable business model.
The festival runs from 25 September until 5 October in various venues across Cape Town and a total of over 100 productions make up the core of the Fringe’s programme.
The programme is available at www.capetownfringe.co.za and in tourist hotspots around the Western Cape, Garden Route, West Coast and Winelands, and at Exclusive Books branches in the Western Cape.
Bookings are now open and can be done online at www.capetownfringe.co.za or by calling 086 000 2014 or by fax on 086 233 2022.
For more information, see www.capetownfringe.co.za or call 046 603 1103.