Two powerful dramas heading to the Playhouse

THE Playhouse Company has two superb plays heading to the Durban theatre as part of its annual New Stages season in May.

First up is The Cenotaph of Dan wa Moriri, an original Wits Theatre production, first performed at the So Solo Festival.

This unique, collaborative journey about loss, memory and intimacy unfolds a personal narrative about a father-son relationship cut too short. When Tony Miyambo, who stars in this one-hander, lost his father, he struggled to come to terms with the void that was left in his life.

“Dealing with my personal biography to create The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding processes that I have ever had to go through,” he says. “When Daniel Rasenga Miyambo died in 2007, the world stopped for at least a week. The funeral was planned, food was prepared, people arrived, he was put into the ground, people washed their hands, ate the food and life moved on, but I couldn’t.

“Waking up each day after that was painful; I could still vividly recall the tone of his voice, the colour of his eyes and the feeling of his touch. It haunted me, he lived everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

“Our life together became an endless loop and the years began to strip away the detail of this man from my mind. My father was a hairstylist; he used to touch people’s heads and make them look beautiful. That had to count for something, and I always believed in it.

“My father never got to see me on stage, and every time I perform the piece I feel as though I am having a conversation with the audience, myself and my Dad.”

The sincerity of this highly personal narrative explores themes of relationships, loss and longing. Written by Tony Miyambo and Gerard Bester, in collaboration with William Harding, directed by Gerard Bester and produced by Gita Pather, this powerful autobiographical piece leaves audiences reflecting on their own lives and individual histories.

Performances of The Cenotaph of Dan wa Moriri will take place at 7.30 pm on May 6 and 7. Booking is through Computicket.

A-Voice-I-Cannot-Silence_-Picture-by-Sithasolwazi-Kentane-CuePix-12

Ralph Lawson and Clare Mortimer in A Voice I Cannot Silence, directed by Greg Homann, is based on the life, stories and poems of Alan Paton. (Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane)

Also headed to The Playhouse is the Naledi Award-winning drama, A Voice I Cannot Silence. The play – which opens in the Playhouse Loft on May 12 as part of the New Stages season – garnered three awards at the Naledi Theatre Awards ceremony at Gold Reef City on April 19.

Ralph Lawson, who portrays controversial author and poet Alan Paton in the play, took the top acting accolade for best lead performance in a play (male), while Menzi Mkhwane won The Brett Golden Award for best newcomer/breakthrough award for the same production. Writers Greg Homann and Ralph Lawson also won the award for best new SA script.

A Voice I Cannot Silence movingly and empathetically examines the life of Paton through his own words, stories, poems and autobiographies.

Presented by The Playhouse Company, in association with The National Arts Festival and the South African State Theatre, the play explores weighty and often controversial issues such as Paton’s position within the Liberal Party, his years as Principal of the Diepkloof Reformatory, his belief in and struggle for human rights, and the complexities of his personal relationships.

A Voice I Cannot Silence is directed by Homann, co-produced by Sue Clarence and stars Lawson, Clare Mortimer as Paton’s second wife, Anne, and Menzi Mkhwane as Sponono, a former Reformatory inmate. Set design is by Nadya Cohen, ‘soundscape’ by Evan Roberts and lighting design by Michael Broderick.

There will be public performances on May 12 (tickets R60), 7 pm on May 13 and May 14 and 3 pm on May 15. Tickets R100 each. Booking is through Computicket. There will also be schools performances from May 16 to 20 at 10 am. Tickets R30 per learner.

Discounted block bookings for groups of 50 or more and bookings for schools performances can be made by calling Dawn on 031 369 9407.

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