Westville Boys’ High School proudly presents its first South African Short Play Festival, featuring performances by the school’s most prolific young actors and writers. For one week only, three productions, THE UGLY NOO NOO, WHITE MEN WITH WEAPONS and a brand-new South African musical penned by Matric learner Cameron Parle entitled THE COUCH, will be staged in the Roy Couzens Theatre, open to school groups and members of the public alike.
The programme is directed by head of Performing Arts at the school, Luke Holder, and presented in association with DALRO.
The festival runs from Wednesday 13 February until Sunday 17 February as follows:
Wednesday 13 Feb 18h00 – THE UGLY NOO NOO
Thursday 14 Feb 18h00 – WHITE MEN WITH WEAPONS and THE COUCH
Friday 15 Feb 18h00 – THE UGLY NOO NOO and THE COUCH
Sunday 17 Feb 13h00 – WHITE MEN WITH WEAPONS
Sunday 17 Feb 17h00 – THE UGLY NOO NOO and THE COUCH
All double bills run for approx. 3 hours with an interval to allow for set changes.
All shows cost R50 for adults and R20 for scholars. Block bookings of 10 people or more qualify for a discounted price of R10 per ticket. REGRET NO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 13 CAN ATTEND, DUE TO LANGUAGE, NUDITY AND THEMES OF PREJUDICE.
A brief synopsis of each production appears below:
THE UGLY NOO NOO was performed for the first time in 1988 and it has since received 17 national and international awards for the script, direction and the performance. In this play, playwright Andrew Buckland explores the mythology of fear; our own terrifying battle with irrational and crippling fear. The Parktown Prawn, which is a type of small pink cricket, inspires fear in people because of its creepy appearance and its aggressive self-defence methods. During the play a man discovers a fleshy, living underworld, underneath his lawn whilst mowing it. He starts exploring this otherworld and soon finds himself battling against being sucked into it; which symbolizes man’s inner and outer struggles. Our hero eventually tumbles down into this world with an act of physical theatre that suspends belief. The man finds himself trapped in a glass jar with the Parktown Prawn and this is where things get weird and interesting.
The 13 vignettes of different army types presented in Greig Coetzee’s masterpiece WHITE MEN WITH WEAPONS are based on his real-life experience as a conscripted left-wing activist in the South African Defence Force. The play is set in the barracks of the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1990, just before the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent lifting of the ban on the ANC. Coetzee’s punch-drunk soldiers, of both Afrikaans and English descent, are about to be shocked out of their privileged racist existence where anything goes, and they’ll be left obsolete and directionless. The most astute character is the autobiographical one, who explains at the end that life in South Africa isn’t all black and white (metaphorically as well as literally), but there are ambiguities and complexities that outsiders can never understand fully – and that goes for attitudes to the army as well.
THE COUCH tells the story of Phillip, a man in his seventies faced with his own mortality as he celebrates what he believes might be his last birthday in the old age home (Happy Ever After Retirement Home) he has been dumped in by his children. Told with humour and pathos by matric learner Cameron Parle, and featuring an original score written performed live during the presentation, Phillip’s story reflects our obsession with nostalgia and regret, in a world that he no longer understands. Says Parle of his own work, “The show is loosely based on Harry Chapin’s hit song Cat’s in the Cradle and tries to capture the great sense of loss we experience as we move quietly through the seven ages of man.
In Athol Fugard’s play, MASTER HAROLD”…AND THE BOYS, a 17-year-old white boy is befriended by the two black waiters who work in his family’s restaurant in 1950s South Africa. One of the waiters – Sam – has been, in many ways, more of a father to Hally than his own bigoted and alcoholic father. Yet, as Hally approaches adulthood he is caught between his affection for the black man and the racist influences of his father. Sam, despite a lack of formal education, has the tremendous wisdom and foresight to see this conflict in Hally and tries to teach him life lessons that will prevent Hally from becoming, in the words of Nelson Mandela, that “prisoner of hatred.” Tragically, as the play unfolds, Hally makes a terrible choice that rekindles the influences of prejudice.