GIVEN the current protests around gender-based violence and accusations of rampant sexism amongst male South Africans, Greig Coetzee’s Breasts – A Play about Men couldn’t be more relevant.
First presented at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July 2000, the play was performed by Coetzee and directed by Garth Anderson.
Twenty years later, it remains extraordinarily relevant, not only in terms of its insight into gender relationships and masculinity, but also in highlighting attitudes to race, class and culture that continue to permeate our society.
Directed by Lynn Chemaly, actor Tim Redpath takes on the challenge of presenting eight white men, who talk about the women in their lives.
Under a magnifying glass, exposed and in the spotlight, these characters give a tremendous insight into the history and attitudes of white, patriarchal South Africa, and the way in which white male experience and dominance impacts so many aspects of gender and culture.
The characters’ various ages and diverse backgrounds also reveal a tremendous amount about masculine attitudes and behaviour.
Coetzee, who studied drama at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, taught drama at GHS for several years.
He went on to write and perform in a series of one-hander plays, including White Man with Weapons, The Blue Period of Milton Van Der Spuy and Happy Natives, before moving to Johannesburg to write for Isidingo.
Coetzee now lives in the United Kingdom where he works as a writer for film and television.
Redpath, who has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and Philosophy from Rhodes University, spent a month training with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, after winning the Brett Goldin Bursary.
He has gone on to perform is the one man shows, Prodigal and Mouche, and teaches at AFDA in Johannesburg.
Chemaly, who has a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree form UKZN, where she lectured in the drama studies department for five years, is the theatre director at St Anne’s Diocesan College in Hilton.
Breasts – A Play About Men is being staged in the Drama Centre at Hilton College at 8 pm on Friday, September 13 and 6.15 pm on Saturday, September 14. Tickets are R130. Please note: the show is not suitable for those under 16.
Breasts – A Play About Men is just one of several shows at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival which have their roots in Pietermaritzburg and the KZN Midlands.
Last year Erin Fourie and Tanya Nicolson dazzled in Peter Mitchell’s 50 Ways (To Leave Your Lover), alongside Helen Vermaak and Daniel Rossouw.
The ladies are back, with the added vocal talent of Grace Botha, to perform in Ladies Sing The Blues in the Art Block at Hilton College at 5.30 pm on Friday, September 13 anbd 4 pm on Saturday, September 14.
Together they present an evening of blues and jazz songs spanning a century of music; from Billie Holliday to Amy Winehouse, and Ella Fitzgerald to Norah Jones.
The show also shows the fun side of jazz, and that anything can be jazzed up, even Beyonce, Britney Spears and Cyndi Lauper!
Directed by Mitchell they sing classics like Cry Me a River, Georgia on my Mind, My Funny Valentine, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and Mack the Knife and dynamic versions of Love and Affection by Joan Armatrading and Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Tickets for Ladies Sing the Blues are R120.
Two of my favourite young ‘Maritzburg actors, TQ Zondi and Mpilo ‘Straw’ Nzimande, will be starring in the Andrew Buckland classic, Feedback, in the Drama Centre at 10 am and 8.30 pm on Saturday, September 14.
This fantastical murder mystery becomes hilarious, poignant, lyrical and quirky as it explores topics ranging from food-consciousness to globalisation, which, in the hands of physical clowns, Zondi and Nzimande, becomes an action-packed celebration of humanity and our capacity for greed and altruism.
The actors take theatre-goers on a rollercoaster ride as they play two brothers, a detective, and a host of flying cheeses (amongst other foodstuffs), who have to pit their wits against the villainous Grave Brothers and aided by Mother D’Earth.
Tickets for Feedback are R120 and the show is suitable for all ages.
Nzimande also appears in Grandpa Grump and the Magical Junkshop, which is in the DWR Music Block at 12 noon on Saturday, September 14 and 10 am on Sunday, September 15.
In this delightful children’s show, Grandpa Grump has lost his imagination and it’s up to young boys and girls to help him on his quest to find it again and become Supergrump!
Along the way he has to rescue the rag doll, Molly; a special surprise for his granddaughter on her sixth birthday, face the terrifying Dustbin Monster and the nutty Cuckoo in the Cuckoo Clock, appease the Smelly Sock Snake and scare away the Broomstick Dragon!
Written by Neil Coppen, the production is directed by Bryan Hiles. Tickets are R80.
Another KZN Midlands favourite, Paul Spence, is sharing his love of Shakespeare in Most Royal, Most Confidential in the FNB Art Block at 11 am on Saturday, September 14 and 10 am on Sunday, September 15.
The royals in Shakespeare’s plays have a curious way of talking to themselves – in public. It’s how the playwright revealed to us their innermost thoughts. Listening from the audience we are suddenly privy to their states of mind, strategies and even their secret soul.
Spence invites you to follow the Bard’s royal characters from a wintry castle in Denmark to a blasted heath in Scotland; from the battlefield of Agincourt to the Tower of London, on an unforgettable voyage through some of the greatest speeches ever written.
Expect spine-tingling soliloquys from Hamlet, Macbeth, Henry V and Richard II.
Tickets for Most Royal, Most Confidential are R130 and the show is suitable for all ages.