On the 31stof March at 6am I hit the N1 out of Cape Town with Gaetan Schmidt and Jason Ralph. Together we drove for 5 hours and at some point crossed over the mysterious “Boere Wors Curtain” and into the land of Die Taal. We arrived in Oudtshoorn just in time to get to work. What were we doing so far from our Soutie homes? We were taking part in FTH:K’s latest step towards global domination: Iets Anders.
Built up on the same model as the Cape Town Edge, Iets Anders is a group of theatremakers making independent work but coming together to provide support and lower the costs of things like accommodation, transport and, most importantly, marketing. This is the first year Iets Anders has run and the lineup was: Rumpsteak, …miskien, London Road, Hats and Pictures of You. The marketing encouraged the title, that the venue was ‘something different’ from the rest of the festival, noting the English, Edgy, Physical and Visual theatre elements. In retrospect the KKNK isn’t the kind of festival that people come to for something different, let alone something English. Still, FTH:K worked hard and Next year they’ll be ready to knock the sokkies off for real. You can check their blog of the fest Here.
So we arrived and got straight to work. I’ll give the KKNK its due, the Techies are good. Better than NAF? They certainly think so. I still have my doubts. There were a lot of comparisons between the KKNK and NAF flying around – most of them not very flattering to the NAF. I’ll say this: Both had good and bad aspects, they both have great people working for them, they both are trying to run huge festivals with limited resources – sometimes you get faulty lights/dimmers/bulbs. It’s the nature of festivals in this country.
Despite 4 hours of get-in, I still hadn’t run the sound for London Road by the time we were kicked out by the next production. Still, despite one of the lamest rigs ever proposed, the Ladies were looking good on their island of carpet.
The next couple of days were pretty mixed up, trying to get into a rhythm and create a smooth running get-in and strike. Too many braais happening all the time. Too much Klippies. Finally a balance was struck and I could relax into a good daily ritual with the ladies. I even got to see some shows, despite ticket prices that were about 95% of my daily S&T.
First of these was Lot directed by Nicola Hanekom, which was the buzz of the festival (at least among those I was standing near to) and it was certainly an ambitious piece. A solitary security guard in a parking lot in the afterlife sits awaiting the arrival of those killed in car accidents. I wasn’t sold. Although there were moments of real magic it veered between pretentiously silly and pretentiously dull. Neels van Jaarsveld however stood out from the ensemble with his madcap pop star.
I had a better time with Wees (Orphan) directed by Hennie van Gruenen; I had seen the original production performed in Edinburgh in 2009. The text was fantastically gripping – perhaps more so in its new Afrikaans context, to which themes of Us versus Them are uncomfortably well suited. The piece was only let down by weak design – from set through sound and lighting, good ideas were just poorly executed. The performances were great from Nicola Hanekom, André Weideman and Gustav Gerdener.
Messe en Henne was a South African and Dutch collaboration from De Appel directed by David Geysen and performed by Albert Pretorious, Nadia Amin and Hugo Maerten. Here was something really exciting – the direction and performances were a daring interpretation of a monstrously intense text by David Harrower. I didn’t like all the choices, hated a couple even, but they were a muscular expansion on the South African directing vocabulary (the very same reason I love the work of Jaco Bouwer).