‘Kinky’ SA play wins big overseas

2012-09-21 11:22

An experimental South African theatre production that trades on Japanese culture, sexiness and wit has lifted top honours at the prestigious Fringe Amsterdam festival – and invitations from all over the world have followed.

The Epicene Butcher And Other Stories For Consenting Adults was a surprise hit at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown this year, lifting an Ovation award and packing houses.

It’s there that it was spotted by a representative of the Amsterdam festival and invited to Holland, where, last week, it lifted the award for Best International Production.

Director John Trengove this week said he was taken aback by the play’s success. “It started as a labour of love. It’s a tiny little show that keeps on surprising us.”

The play references Japanese street theatre and the storytelling art of Kamishibai, mixing up South African content with the Asian. It was inspired by actress Jemma Kahn, who spent time as a student in the country.

It offers lashings of wit, mildly pornographic chapters and “a slightly slutty assistant” – making it recommended for adult audiences, who have been lapping it up.

The Epicene Butcher was written by respected TV writer Gwydion Beynon, who Trengove says “attracted a whole lot of attention in Amsterdam.”

Kahn isn’t just the main performer in the piece, she also created many of the Manga-style illustrations projected in it.

“It’s an experiment, really, an intersexion between performance and illustration,” says Trengove. The New York-trained writer and director is also known for his TV work – having picked up an Emmy nomination for the series Hopeville.

He says the Amsterdam performances have opened a whole lot of new doors. The team is in discussion with theatre festivals from Prague, Brighton, London and Israel.

There has also been interest from a Dutch theatre company who are keen to develop a new production with the rising South African stars.

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