Stof Rooi – Cape Town Fringe Festival 2016

Dustin Beck

Dustin Beck

This is my first Fringe Festival and the visually graphic solo dance performance Stof Rooi (red fabric in Afrikaans) is one of the most unusual and dynamic I’ve seen. Described as “physical theatre,” the powerful production “explores the conflicts of language and identity associated with the world of ancestry and the present-day reality of a boy in the Northern Cape”.

It was performed at Cape Town City Hall in the catacombs of the small KleiSand Theatre, with the audience seated intimately close to the riveting performance.

Dustin Beck

Dustin Beck

Performer Dustin Beck portrays a young matriculate contemplating how he will leave his mark in the world. Described as a “ritualistic performance” at times the dancer in Stof Rooi seemed mime-like to me. The audience watched the “anxiety to pass metric consume the young boy as he battled to prove his worth”.

Dustin Beck

Dustin Beck

Beck’s spellbinding performance graphically communicates the boy’s emotions. His “intricate foot work, the stage lighting, and magic of dust” explore a “boy running from his name and bloodline towards a future filled with more promise, hope, and meaning”.

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Stof Rooi was made possible by the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. The Collective provides a venue for local theatre practitioners and enables people from diverse backgrounds to “come together to create work, develop skills, and perform”.

Jason Jacobs

Jason Jacobs

“Stof Rooi’s sound and movement speak to the dream space of the ancestors in a language and vocabulary” deeply rooted in the boy’s mind and body but one that he does not understand. His reality is the language of school systems and gang initiations.

The two worlds (dream and real) fight to occupy the boy’s body. He “fights against both and to prove himself beyond a culture and heritage that seems to have no future”.

Cape Town City Hall

Cape Town City Hall

The original production was performed at the Obs Family Festival. During the Festival young people encouraged high school learners from the Cape Flats to engage with the performance and really physically understand the complex struggle it addresses.

Dustin Beck

Dustin Beck

Director Jason Jacobs is skilled in teaching, acting, dance, and physical theatre. He was nominated for a coveted Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best Young Director.

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Jacobs lectures at drama, dance, and creative writing workshops and has won many awards. He is recognized as a theatre-maker, playwright, and mentor for the ASSITEJ SA Theatre4Youth Western Cape Mentorship Programme. Jacobs co-founded KleiSand Theatre which encourages positive thinking in South African youth through “inventive, cutting-edge theatre and dance”.

Jason Jacobs

Cape Town Magic Club

Magic Club Theatre

Magic Club Theatre

It was a magnetic performance last night at Cape Town Magic Club! When the evening began I had no idea what to expect. As the show progressed I was riveted by the sensational trickery of three seasoned magicians. The tiny dark theatre with a mysterious layer of theatrical smoke and a few well-placed mirrors made it tough to catch a clever magician’s sleight of hand.

Magic Club Lounge

Magic Club Lounge

The informal club operates in City Centre in the cellar of The Cape Town Club. It seats less than 50 people. I won’t elaborate on specifics of the magic performed last night but highly recommend the Magic Club – a fun and entertaining evening.

Magic Club Bar

Magic Club Black Bar

The spring evening was cool and mysteriously misty. I parked on Keerom Street, a dimly lighted cobblestone alley behind the theatre.

Keerom Street

Keerom Street

Cape Town Club was created in 1976 by merging two of the city’s oldest clubs from the 1800s – the City Club and Civil Service Club. The stylish Club is near beautiful Company’s Garden and the Cape Town High Court. The restaurant, QVS18, has views of Table Mountain and a balcony overlooking Queen Victoria Street.

Foyer Cape Town Club

Last night the three performing magicians were Marcel Oudejans, Greg Gelb, and Ryan Jones. Each magician was phenomenal. They kept the audience totally engaged and on the edge of our seats!

Marcel Oudejans – Magician, Producer and Host

“Marcel is highly regarded for his comedy-infused magic and has performed professionally as a corporate event entertainer for well over a decade.

Marcel Oudejans

Marcel Oudejans Magician

Marcel performs internationally and throughout Southern Africa, recently in Ukraine and Namibia. He represented South Africa at India’s Vismayam Magic Convention.

Marcel’s clients include hundreds of blue-chip corporate audiences, high-profile executives, international conferences, casinos, and luxury hotels. He also produced and performed three one-man shows (Sleight of Mouth 1, Sleight of Mouth 2, and Curious Things) at the annual National Arts Festival Fringe and Cape Town Fringe Festivals.

Audience participation forms an important part of his magic shows. Volunteers become instant partners in his astonishing act. During the show Marcel produces objects, reads minds, and helps volunteers perform magic of their own. Long after the event is over and audiences leave the performance they are still laughing from sheer surprise and enjoyment of the show.”

Greg Gelb Magician

“Greg has wooed people with his magic and humor since he was 9 years old. Born and bred in the heart of Cape Town, he grew up with no formal magical training. Self-taught, he learned the craft and began reading books about magic from cover to cover, practicing on anyone who would stop and give their attention to his magic.

Greg Gelb Magician

Greg Gelb Magician

Greg has the chops, personality, and warmth that make for a great stage presence. He takes you on a mystical and mysterious journey. Remember the amazement felt when you watched the magician at the Spur pull a coin from your ear? Remember the feeling of astonishment when you saw your first magic trick? Those feelings are what you feel when you sit down with Greg. Nothing matters except you and the tools he uses to blow your mind.

QVS18 Restaurant Cape Town Club

Greg has worked for many corporations. Most recently he is the resident magician at The Thirsty Scarecrow in Stellenbosch. Greg performed at the Cape Town Magic Club in April 2016 as a guest performer, and he has returned to the scene for season 2. Be prepared to be amazed, amused, astonished, and astounded as you join Greg on his journey of magic and mystery.”

Ryan Jones Magician

“An award-winning graduate of the College of Magic Ryan Jones is a mysterious and unique performer involved in the world of magic for more than a decade. At a young age, he jetted off to Las Vegas, the world capital of magic, to perform for celebrities.

Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones Magician

Ryan is a full-time Industrial Designer and his creativity shines through in all his magic. Ryan seeks to amaze, puzzle, and shock his audiences. He will leave you at the edge of your seat wanting more! But be careful, the closer you look, the less you will see…”

South Africa’s Wildflowers

Geissorhiza Radians

Depending on unpredictable spring weather, the best time to see South Africa’s West Coast Wildflowers is from mid-August to mid-September. Viewing them on a sunny day is essential. In the past, between the weather and commitments there was always a reason to delay wildflower outings. This year it happened!

Waiting until mid-September was risky but rewarding. I found fields of colorful blossoms with an extra-added benefit – smaller crowds of tourists. My new favorite wildflower is the South African gem Geissorhiza Radians, also known as “Wine Cups”. Winecups are hearty drought-tolerant perennials. Varieties are found in parts of the United States.

The drive north via Route 27 has several points of interest and stunning panoramas of the Atlantic Ocean. Mamre, a town established by Moravian missionaries in the 1800s, was a post for the Dutch East India Company.

pink

I felt a bit emotional when driving by Koeberg Nuclear Power Station where I was a consultant in the late 1980s. Koeberg is the only nuclear power plant in Africa.

Back then, I lived on Beach Road in Sea Point and every morning car pooled with other consultants along the coast passing Table View, Boulbergstrand, and Melkbosstrand. Politically, the 1980s in South Africa were extremely volatile, so getting to the plant was often fraught with stress and multiple security checks.

“The resistance of the mid-1980s destroyed utterly the ‘total strategy’ tactics of the Botha government. The campaign to win hearts and minds was in tatters, with thousands in detention and an occupying army in the townships …”

The final approach involved walking a half mile over sand dunes patrolled by Eskom machine gun carrying security guards with German Shepard police dogs. I haven’t forgotten those tense times. The daily Koeberg “drill” was many things – never blasé!

Beyond Koeberg sprawled over the hills there were breathtaking fields of pollen-laden wildflowers thick with blossoms frequented by bumblebees. In the midst of heavy buzzing, human hay fever sneezes were also audible. One photographer wearing shorts complained about his bee stings.

South Africa’s dreamlike wildflower fields are popular with photographers and there were some photo shoots in process. One photographer was taking pictures of a semi-naked model seductively draped in front of a cluster of vivid blossoms.

Sweet floral fragrances filled the spring air creating an intoxicating atmosphere more alluring than any perfume! I spent a few hours wandering through the flower fields and then drove to nearby Darling for lunch and a tour of their annual Wildflower Show.

Everything about sleepy Darling happens slowly. The rough backroad leading to the town is being transformed into a paved two-lane highway. Construction resulted in one-lane traffic for most of the drive. At points along the way flaggers waved drivers to a stop where they waited patiently for 5 to 10 minutes while a long line of traffic passed in the other direction.

cape-dutch-mamre

Rob Millenaar Cape Dutch in Mamre

I stopped for a leisurely lunch at a cafè and charcuterie called The Flying Pig. In addition to their popular pork dishes they served a variety of delicious sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and homemade juices. I sat outside in the sun enjoying the garden.

table-mt-from-table-view1

Table Mountain from Table View

I decided to skip the crowded Darling Flower Show since it seemed more interesting to people buying plants. I found a good jazz station on the radio and settled in for a slow scenic drive back to Cape Town.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

Beyond road construction but before the coastal turnoff for Cape Town, there was a traffic bottleneck. I wondered if there was an accident. Closer to the source of the delay 6 or 7 police vehicles were parked near cars pulled to the roadside. I had flashbacks about some of the bizarre police chases we saw during an African safari when policemen pursued suspects along the roadside. It wasn’t like that.

Darling Vineyard

Darling Vineyard

I passed to the front and an Afrikaner policeman approached with a small object in his hand. He asked me to breathe into it so he could check for alcohol. There are several craft breweries and wineries along the wildflower route, so the area must be a popular check point for police, especially on weekends. After passing the breathalyzer test, I was allowed to continue. It was my first breathalyzer!

Darling Backroad

Darling Backroad

Along the coast, the silhouette of my atomic friend Koeberg hulked in the distance. For old times’ sake I decided to stop and take a photo. Security made getting close a challenge. I pulled off the road some distance from the plant and snapped a shot – wondering if hidden security cameras were monitoring the area.

Later back at Mouille Point there was another spectacular ocean sunset. I watched in a mild state of euphoria and reflected on another interesting day in Africa.

bumblebee

field-geissorhiza-radians-kelkiewyn

Field of Wine Cups

Sleeping Beauty Ballet at Artscape

Artscape Opera House

Artscape Opera House

Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) is performing The Sleeping Beauty ballet at Artscape Opera House. The dancers are accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Brandon Phillips. I attended the premier performance on September 2. It was an excellent, exciting production!

Brandon Phillips Conductor

Brandon Phillips Conductor

CTBC is South Africa’s oldest ballet company. The premier performance of Sleeping Beauty featured impressive guest artists Hikaru Kobayashi from The Royal Ballet as Aurora and David Moore from Stuttgart Ballet as Prince Florimund. Outstanding performances by Johnny Bovang as the evil fairy Carabosse and Kim Vieira as the Lilac Fairy were captivating.

Johnny Bovang as Carabosse

Johnny Bovang as Carabosse

“About ten years after the presentation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, he was asked to write a ballet for the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The ballet would be based on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. Tchaikovsky was very happy this story was chosen. It was set in the age of Louis XIV. He would have the chance to write music in the Baroque style.”

The dancing, dramatic musical score, costumes, and beautiful sets were exquisite – a memorable Cape Town evening!

Pytor I Tschaikowski

Pytor I Tchaikovsky

The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek – Fugard Theatre Cape Town

Billboard Fountain Theatre Los Angeles

Yesterday I saw Athol Fugard’s play The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek performed at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. The short play is touching and emotional and one of the best I’ve seen! Before opening in South Africa, it débuted at Pershing Square Signature Center in New York City performed by the Signature Theatre Company. Fugard’s play was also performed in Los Angeles at the renowned Fountain Theatre.

Nukain-Mabuza and His Stone Garden

Nukain Mabuza’s Stone Garden

Mr. Fugard has written over forty plays. Many of them were made into films.  Tsotsi, a moving film based on a novel he wrote in the 1960s, won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Tsotsi is set in the 1950s in a squalid township outside Johannesburg destroyed by the white community.

Tshamano Sebe and Siya Jantjie

Tshamano Sebe and Siya Jantjie

“Throughout his long and distinguished career, Mr. Fugard has been anatomizing the evils of apartheid and the troubling legacies it left behind. His new play considers both the brutal injustices of apartheid and the violence that roiled South Africa after its dismantling. His work spans the period of apartheid in South Africa through the first democratic elections and Nelson Mandela’s presidency into present day post-apartheid South Africa.”

Nukain Mabuza Stone Garden

Nukain Mabuza Stone Garden

Inspired by the life of outsider artist Nukain Mabuza, there are three characters in Fugard’s play – Nukain, Bokkie, and Elmarie. Scene One opens with Nukain speaking to young Bokkie about the culture of apartheid and the “moral blindness” it embraced.

Nukain Mabusa Rocks

Nukain Mabuza Painted Rocks

The first act takes place on a Sunday morning when the old farm worker performs his chore of painting bright colors on the rocks that dot the dry South African landscape. “The creation of these ‘flowers’ as Nukain calls them, was a task he began years before, and which has become a weekly pleasure he shares with young Bokkie, the 11-year-old boy in his charge.”

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe

“They got eyes but they do not see us”, says the gentle old man to the boy. “Both are black South Africans, and the man’s observation refers to the white farmers for whom he works.”

Bokkie, Elmarie, Nukain

Bokkie, Elmarie, Nukain

Much to the “consternation of young Bokkie who is eager to watch him work,” Nukain cannot seem to get started painting the one sizable rock remaining. “Taller than Nukain and a good six feet wide, the rock is a looming final challenge that he shies away from for reasons he cannot quite understand. While he considers the prospects, the energetic young Bokkie tries to cajole and coax him into beginning, and Nukain finds himself reflecting on his life.”

Siya Jantjie

Siya Jantjie

The arrival of Elmarie, the wife of the white farmer who owns the land, “dampens the excitement both Nukain and Bokkie have taken in their work”. Elmarie comments about the colorful design Nukain has painted on the big rock, and casually “insists that he paint over it next week in his more decorative, innocuous style — a suggestion, or rather a demand, that Bokkie angrily rejects.”

Tsotsi

Tsotsi

“Nukain accepts Elmarie’s demand with the reflexive humility born of a steady diet of privation, dependency, and racism. Bokkie is left with only the wistful thought that in some future day Elmarie and her husband will open their eyes and then see us.”

Nukain Mabuza Rocks

Nukain Mabuza Rocks

Tshamano Sebe (Nukain) was born in the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto. He moved to Berlin and became a founding member of the Soyikwa African Theatre group. Sebe returned to South Africa in 1993 where he starred in the SABC hit television series Stokvel and won many awards for his performances in local and international films.

Athol Fugard

Athol Fugard

Siya Jantjie (Bokkie) is 11 years old and goes to school in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch where he enjoys soccer, playing the piano and marimba, and singing in the choir. Siya also attends the Waterfront Theatre School where he studies tap dancing, modern dancing, drama, and musical theatre. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek is talented Siya’s first professional performance. He clearly has a bright future ahead of him.

Tshamano Sebe

Tshamano Sebe

Anna-Mart Van Der Merwe (Elmarie Kleynhans) is “an award-winning bilingual (English and Afrikaans) actress, best known for her leading roles in local television series.”  She has starred in many films and theatre productions.

Johan Botha and Friends at Artscape Opera House

Johan Botha Tenor

Johan Botha Tenor

Last night I was lucky to attend an Opera Gala at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre celebrating life with South African Tenor Johan Botha and his friends:

Goitsemang Llehobye Soprano

Goitsemang Llehobye Soprano

Conductor Bernhard Gueller and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied the four singers.

Bongiwe Nakani Mezzo-soprano

Bongiwe Nakani Mezzo-soprano

“Botha was born in Rustenburg, South Africa. He made his stage début in 1989 and an international breakthrough in 1993 at the Opéra Bastille, Paris as Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Since then Botha has performed at leading opera venues around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Opera Australia, Royal Opera House in London, La Scala in Milan, and the Salzburg Festival. He lives in Vienna with his wife and two sons.”

Mandla Mndebele Baritone

Mandla Mndebele Baritone

The program included an overture and intermezzo by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and arias from composers Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo, and others. There were duets and quartets and the Artscape Opera House looked very elegant.  I found Goitsemang Lehobye to be especially talented. Her duet from Otello with Bongiwe Nakani was touching.

Artscape Light Fixtures

Artscape Mezzanine Light Fixtures

Sadly I had to leave the performance early since I’ve been suffering from a very bad case of flu and knew coughing would not be appreciated. Hearing these talented singers perform in person was a wonderful experience and fond memory!

Mouille Point and Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard

Green Point Lighthouse

Green Point Lighthouse

For several months, I’ve been living in Mouille Point (moo-lee) situated along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s near Sea Point, Green Point Park, Cape Town Stadium, and Victoria and Albert Waterfront. So far, Cape Town’s winter has been mild with mostly warm sunny days.

Mouille Point and Surrounding Areas

Mouille Point and Surrounding Areas

Atlantic Seaboard Promenade and Green Point Park

Mouille Point is a small active neighborhood with a paved seaboard promenade on one side and urban Green Point Park on the other. Every day visitors frequent the popular area, including joggers, walkers, baby strollers, skaters, and cyclists.

Mouille Point Promenade

Mouille Point Promenade

Mouille Point is a “put-in” spot for sea kayakers. Points along the seaboard are also popular with surfers (wet suits essential) and divers. Seabirds that circle overhead include cormorants, seagulls, and the giant albatross. Hadeda Ibis hang out on the other side in Green Park making their loud, distinctive haa-haa-haa-de-dah call.

Heavisides Dolphin

Heaviside’s Dolphin

albatross

Giant Albatross

Seals, penguins, endemic Heaviside’s dolphins, and even an occasional right whale visit the coastline. I’ve been continually entertained and amazed by Mouille Point’s sea life, sights, smells, sometimes violent surf, and indescribable sunsets! The Promenade is equally enchanting during clear sunny and overcast stormy days.

Kayaker Sunset Mouille Point

Kayaker Sunset Mouille Point

Green Point Common lies slightly inland on the other side of Mouille Point next to Cape Town Stadium. The green haven includes soccer fields, duck ponds, children’s playgrounds, a golf course, and Green Point Urban Park and Biodiversity Garden.

History of Shipwrecks

Green Point Park Pond

Duck Pond at Green Point Park

“The name ‘Mouille’ comes from the French word for a marine anchoring ground. In the 18th century ships were often swept ashore in Cape Town’s Table Bay. In 1743 the governor decided to build a breakwater (mouille in French) to protect anchored vessels. Work began when farmers who delivered goods to the city were required to load up their wagons with stones, drive out to Mouille Point, and offload them into Table Bay.”

S. A. Seafarer

S. A. Seafarer

“Braving dangerous high seas, slaves and convicts toiled at building the breakwater. After three years of hard labor they had completed a mere 100m (110 yards) and the project was abandoned. In 1781 the French arrived and built a battery near the unfinished mouille, naming it Mouille Point Battery.”

Cape Town Stadium

Cape Town Stadium

SS South African Seafarer

White Horse Whiskey

In 1966, despite the presence of nearby lighthouses, during a fierce winter storm the SS South African Seafarer ran aground between Mouille Point and Three Anchor Bay. Everybody on board was rescued by helicopters from South Africa’s Ysterplaat Air Force Base.

The City of Cape Town commissioned sculptor Kevin Brand to create a piece for the Sea Point Promenade recalling his memory of the Seafarer running aground during the storm.

“At the sculpture’s unveiling, Brand explained that the ship’s cargo contained some miniature

White Horse Sculpting Sea Point Promenade

white plastic horses associated with a supply of White Horse Whiskey being transported by the ship. The crashing of the Atlantic Ocean washed these little white horses to shore and scattered them on the beach where he and many others delighted in finding the tiny treasures. The horses are on concrete bases and positioned along the promenade at angles which suggest a ‘washed-up’ feeling.”

Green Point Park Walkway

Green Point Park Walkway

Green Point Lighthouse later replaced Mouille Point Lighthouse. Traditionally a new lighthouse cannot take the name of an older one. Today Green Point Lighthouse is a popular landmark and its red-stripes brighten the promenade.

Cape Town Stadium from Green Point Park

Cape Town Stadium from Green Point Park

Shipwrecks along Mouille Point include the Royal Mail Steamer Athens, which ran aground in 1865 during The Great Table Bay Gale 17 May. The colossal gale wrecked seventeen ships! The iron engine block of the Athens is visible off shore. It’s possible to dive the wreck which has been “salvaged” for over 150 years! The Athens wreck is said to be badly broken up and overgrown with kelp and sea urchins.

Hadeda Ibis

Hadeda Ibis

Since spice traders began sailing around Cape Point, Cape Town’s storms have famously claimed many ships. Some were “lost to the sea” while others are visible and accessible to divers. The remains of many shipwrecks can still be seen resting on beaches along the Cape Peninsula’s coastline.

Green Point Common

Green Point Garden

Green Point Garden Flower

“In the 18th century the Green Point Common was known by the Dutch as De Waterplaats (the Foreshore). It extended from Three Anchor Bay to Cape Town and included most of the land towards Sea Point and the coastline. The Common was granted to the Cape Town City Council in 1923 by the Union Government.”

Ducks Green Point Garden

Duck Pond Green Point Garden

“The Common has a colorful history as a sports field and recreation site for Capetonians. Horse races were held at the Common until Kenilworth Racecourse took its place. Sailing regattas ran along the promenade and at the turn of the century the area hosted an Imperial Exhibition. The Common was also a venue for some of the earliest rugby and cricket matches in the Cape, and the Green Point Track was important for cycling and track and field sports.”

Cape Town Stadium

Promenade Cyclists

Promenade Cyclists

Cape Town Stadium replaced Green Point Stadium and was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Today it’s the home ground of two Premier Soccer League clubs – Ajax Cape Town and Cape Town City. The stadium has hosted competitions like the HSBC Sevens World Rugby Series.

V and A Waterfront

Victoria and Albert Waterfront

After the FIFA World Cup, the Business Venture Investments 1317 consortium was awarded the service contract to manage the stadium and ensure that it remained a sustainable multi-purpose venue. In 2016, the group still manages the stadium.

Royal Mail Steamer Athens

Royal Mail Steamer Athens

Cape Town Stadium is available for concerts and other venues and can host from 10 or less to 55,000 people. Spaces for rent include a mixing lounge, business zone, presidential suite, playing courts, and conference rooms. It was recently used to host a concert by American singer Mariah Carey.