Convention ignored at arts festival

FEARLESS directors are putting aside convention to reinvent and reshape theatre experiences at the 2010 National Arts Festival's Fringe. It runs from June 20 to July 4.

The Physical Theatre programme is rife with cutting-edge experimental theatre of an extremely high standard that includes, among a host of fresh talent, a deluge of theatre super magnets.

Internationally acclaimed Butoh choreographer Frauke collaborates with the First Physical Theatre Company in Ama-No-Gawa and an exploration of our physical origins through the cosmology of the Butoh body.

Former First Physical dancer Lucy Hinds teams up with UK performer David Toole, novelist Matthew David Scott and script-writer and dramatist Mark Catley in Extra-Ordinary, an insight into how the ordinary and extraordinary struggle with self-worth both as artists and people.

In Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth Tamara Guhrs, pictured, and Athena Mazerak use poetry, images, movement and text in an adaptation of an ancient Sumarian myth that evolves into a journey of healing for the 21st century.

Also borrowing from yesterday, Dedicado, featuring Tristan Jacobs and directed by Richard Haxton, explores the multi-faceted terrain of a South African grandfather's spirit in an energetic dark comedy dedicated to Jose da Silva Aires.

Robert McKay of The Times called Mahlatse Leshabane "a director to watch in 2010" and this year's Fringe provides the opportunity.

He directs a fast-paced, dark humoured examination of the quagmire of African politics, Blood Shot, as well as the hilarious tragedy, System Dop, which depicts the mounting frenzy of desperation among Cape wine farmworkers who are unable to find a suitable corkscrew.

PJ Sabbagha choreographs Nicola Haskins and Bailey Snyman in the Matchbox Theatre Collective's High Rising. Adrienne Sichel (The Star) comments that this formidable pair display "master craftsmanship and technical refinement" in a beautifully evocative duet that reflects our lives today.

Janine Lewis and Princess Mhlongo, pictured, have adapted Alessandro Baricco's Without Blood to a South African context, with Rantebang Makapan. The play has been described as "mesmerising and starkly beautiful" by The Observer in London.

Returnees to the Fringe are Richard Antrobus' Stilted, Craig Morris' Blood Orange, Neil Coppen's award-winning Tin Bucket Drum and the quirky multi-media and puppetry production Paraphernalia directed by Jacqueline van Meygaarden.

The Cape Academy of Performing Arts brings a dark questioning fairy tale, Razor Tongue,and the Viva Valia Theatre Company looks into the physical and emotional walls behind which we hide in Behind the Walls. It is written and directed by Seowa Given Maleka.

Friendship is the cornerstone of Boschwacked Productions' Hats, starring Richard Antrobus and Tristan Jacobs. The entire show is performed without dialogue and makes use of evocative movement, comical mime, music, special effects and impressive stunts.

Inua, presented by Jori Snell of the Baba Yaga Theatre (Denmark), is a search for the essence (inua) of things - spiritual, emotional, physical.

Inspired by Scandinavian and Greenland landscapes, Snell uses arctic creatures and the untamed forces of nature in a shape-shifting piece that combines multi-media imagery and sound with the subtleties of physical movement and searing emotion.

Choreographer Mellissa Alexander and musician Terence Marais use music and movement to explore life as a journey in One Shoe, which asks: "How far can we really go with only one shoe?"

Choreographer and director Sithembiso Khalishwayo and the Wits School of Arts present Love Me Letter. It seeks to link language, dreams, relationships and the power that words have on us all - as well as the potential for destruction when meanings are lost in translation.