Brace yourselves, Grahamstown …

2011-06-18 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL is richly represented at this year’s National Arts Festival (NAF) in Grahamstown­ with around 30 drama, music, dance and comedy productions being staged on the main arena and fringe programmes.

This year’s main-programme pickings include two concerts by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, a first-visit to the NAF by the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a tribute to the late Syd Kitchen, and a top-notch drama offering, courtesy of Standard Bank Young Artist for Drama 2011 Neil Coppen­.

The Durban playwright and actor­ will be staging his new production Abnormal Load at the Rhodes Theatre from June 30 to July 2.

Set in Bashfield, a fictional battle-field town nestled in the once war-ravaged valleys of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Abnormal Load presents a theatrical universe where the past runs in tandem with the present, and events shift from the grandeur of a battlefield in 1879 to the intimacy of the bedroom in 2011.

Part period epic, part tragi-comedy, part unconventional love story, Abnormal Load whisks through two centuries of South African history as it takes an honest and humorous look at the complexities and contradictions of life in small-town South Africa.

The show combines movement, sound, music, multi-media and shadows and stars film and television star Mothusi Magano (Tsotsi, Hotel Rwanda and SABC3’s The Lab), Jenna Dunster (who plays Sofia le Roux in Isidingo), Allison Cassels, Jana Ramos Violante, Fortunate Dhlomo, Ntombikayise Gasa, Clinton Small and Thomie Holtzhausen.

After its Grahamstown­ run, Coppen (whose previous works include Tin Bucket Drum and Tree Boy), will take Abnormal Load, which is staged in association with the Catalina Unlimited and with the support of the Playhouse Company, on a nationwide­ tour.

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