By Kate Bishop, Candice Brissenden & Tafadzwa Mlambo
Emma de Wet and Robert Haxton, two up-and-coming directors, recently showcased their plays in this year’s Young Director’s Season which ran from August 28- to 30. ‘Malboro Country’, directed by de Wet, and ‘Wit’, directed by Haxton, appeared in a double bill which dealt with people’s use of language and our inability to express ourselves sincerely.
De Wet wrote the script for ‘Malboro Country’ herself. The play is set in a Rhodes digs and deals with desire and what happens when it is not fulfilled. The lead character, Jenny, struggles to deal with her vulnerability and feels the need to inflict pain on others in order to come to terms with her own heartache. While reflecting on Jenny’s character, de Wet said, “The role is very personal to me and has a lot of myself in it,” although she maintains that it is not autobiographical. Despite the play dealing with controversial issues such as closet homosexuality and the obsessive desire to be loved, the audience remained immersed in the action. De Wet says it was challenging directing a self-written script and was grateful to have had such a talented and hardworking cast.
‘Wit’ dealt with the same underlying issue of using language to protect oneself from human emotion. Set in a hospital, the play deals with a literature professor’s struggle with ovarian cancer. It illustrates a superficial doctor-patient relationship, focusing on the professor’s attempt to use language to hide her anguish and the doctors’ use of a classic bedside manner in order to distance themselves from the situation. Haxton knows that the play touched many audience members as he was approached by someone who had lost a loved one to cancer and, after seeing the play, had gained a better understanding of the personal process they had experienced.
Haxton and de Wet plan on working together on a collective project in the future. De Wet hopes to go in a different direction as a playwright, perhaps in exploration of a more surrealist approach. Haxton plans to complete his Masters in contemporary performance. Based on these plays, the two appear to be very promising directors and we suggest you look out for them.