PMB playwright gets published

2016-06-22 06:00
Kline Smith’s original play, ‘Mob Feel’, has just been published. PHOTO: Gerorgina Burton

Kline Smith’s original play, ‘Mob Feel’, has just been published. PHOTO: Gerorgina Burton

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KLINE Smith’s original play, Mob Feel, which has been very popular at the Hexagon Theatre, has just been published.

Mob Feel is set in the summer of 1952 against the backdrop of an extended period of gang violence and ethnic rivalry, fuelled by mob mentality which devastated the township of Westbury in Johannesburg.

The tragic love story is of Linga and Mapula, and their attempt to overcome an old ethnic rivalry stained with prejudice, violence and pain. Lyrical, and at times almost balletic, choreographed movements combine physical theatre with the age-old traditions of storytelling.

“No elaborate props, sets, lighting, costumes and frills are used. It is simply four people with a guitar, a drum, an abundance of energy and a story that is hauntingly reminiscent of the atrocities committed recently in South Africa - most notably, the devastating xenophobic attacks that flared up in parts of the country,” said Smith.

Smith, who is from eShowe in Zululand, has been living in Pietermaritzburg for the past seven years.

“Maritzburg’s laid-back mood, strong sense of community and its rich history draws comforting parallels­ to home,” he said.

He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg and lectures journalism at Rosebank College in Durban.

Smith said he has always had a flare for the dramatics.

“My earliest childhood memories are of me gathering my cousins together to put on shows for the family during the holidays and reunions. No doubt, my entrepreneurial drive peaked when I realised I could charge my aunties and uncles for a seat on the floor of a lounge packed with family members.”

He began his directing career, albeit informally, by creating performances that relied almost solely on bodies in a space.

“I had to. There was no drama department at school and therefore no access to props or costumes. Drama was an extramural activity and, although compressed at school, it ignited and sustained my love for the arts,” said Smith.

He said his passion for play-writing came about in 2001.

“It may sound silly, but it was only when I got to school in 2001 that I learnt that plays were not just performed for a live audience, but were also published in books. I remember first arriving at the campus library and finding aisles full of play texts. South African plays with characters I felt I had known my whole life. If I could have pitched a tent in the South African Theatre aisle I would have, because for a good few months thereafter I sat cross-legged on the library­ floor, lost in worlds I could never have dreamt up.”

Smith draws his inspiration from some of the greatest South Africa’s playwrights - Athol Fugard, John Kani, Barney Simon, Lara Foot and a seemingly endless list of other powerful writers.

“The opportunity to have Mob Feel published is therefore a tremendous honour and I hope the book will aid some young artists along their journey of theatre­ directing,” he said.

Mob Feel has been performed across South Africa including Grahamstown, Pietermaritzburg, Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn. Smith received Best Writer and Best Director, 2012 National Arts Festival’s Student­ Theatre Programme and Best Fringe Production at the 2013 Musho! International Theatre Festival.

“It’s been a fantastic year for theatre, particularly student theatre, at UKZN and the Hexagon is fully booked up until next year. We hope to run the show early next year together with the book launch, signing and conversation with the cast,” said Smith.

For a copy of Mob Feel email Robin Malan­

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