Young directors’ talent out to play

By Yashen Moodley

Rhodes University Drama Department had yet another theatrical showcase of talent with the Honours Young Directors’ Season 2007, which commenced last week. This is an annual presentation which gives the postgraduate Drama students who are in the directing elective an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents in the form of an onstage exam. Each of the four honours students, Meghan Greenberg, Sin Gwamanda, Cassandra Hendricks, and Sarah Roberson chose pieces that were contemporary, cutting edge, and controversial. Students and Grahamstown locals alike supported the Young Directors season as it offered a unique opportunity for theatre practitioners as well as the audiences to experience something new and refreshing. Each of the four productions were unique as they each portray the four distinct personalities of the directors.                                                             Meghan Greenberg presented an extract from the acclaimed South African playwright Pieter Dirk-Uys’s Auditioning Angels. The play is set in a large hospital where a number of orphaned babies are looked after by a doctor, his daughter Gloria, son Matthew and a nurse Tessie. Greenberg manages to create a dream like set in which white is the predominant colour, signifying the search for angels. The play looks at the idea of hope, self sacrifice, reassurance and the good of humanity in the midst of a chaotic world in which we live.  “The play evoked such a longing within me and I hope that the second act that I directed instils a similar response from viewers,” said Greenberg.  

Sarah Roberson’s piece Conversations is a thrilling devised performance. It dealt with the profound truth and understanding of relationships which revolve around one’s actions of living everyday. Roberson is a firm believer of devised work as it “opens up a multitude of creative possibilities”. She says, ” A devised work allows so much freedom but many challenges too, because you don’t have a script written by someone else to work from and so by using source material to stimulate initial ideas, the work is created from scratch.” Roberson’s piece created a thought provoking world which differs from the conventional theatre style. This invigorating production showed a balance between the fine lines separating security, danger and the boundary of passion. The play dealt with what lies under our well preserved appearance in society and opening it up to convey the message into stage.

Cassandra Hendricks directed Home Free!  which is a wicked comedy written by Lanford Wilson. The play revolved around the lives of Lawrence and Joanna Brown who are incestuous siblings that create a baby together as a result of their smothering love and fear. Their fear limits them to the childish fantasy world of imaginary children, toys and games that bounder on the edge of the up-and-coming outside reality. The play took the audience into a world of obscurity and imagination as the main characters, Joanna and Lawrence Brown, avoid reality and lock themselves away in a world of games and entertainment, which to them is an ordinary day. Hendricks explains, “The complexity of the characters set against the playground of their flat is intriguing and shows how people not only lose perspective of a greater reality but are too scared to face it.” 

Sin Gwamanda decided to direct an extract from Cincinatti written by the renowned playwright Barney Simon. It portrayed the lives of four distinguishable characters living in South Africa in the 1970’s and tells their personal battle after the popular nightclub Cincinatti had been shut down. The play was set against the backdrop of the unyielding Apartheid era and questioned the individuality and humorous struggle of these individuals within their relationship with Cincinatti. Gwamanda explains, “Cincinatti was one of the most happening and, therefore, threatening disco spots in Johannesburg during the 70s. At a time when racial interaction was outlawed, these special few found a way to party together. “The Honours directors Sin, Meghan, Cassandra and Sarah can be commended for providing such a thought-provoking experience. Their talent and skill is exceptional and we hope to see more from them in the future. If the Honours productions have really tickled your fancy, look out for the Masters productions which will be held next term and feature The Hamlet Machine and The Blacks.       

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