18 July, 2008

Celebrating South African Talent: The quiet Violence of Dreams

By: Nqobile Buthelezi

As the trio walked into Dulce's Cafe on High Street, their electric ambiance filled the room. Director, Neville Engelbrecht (right), Actress, Lebo Mashile (center) and Playwright, Ashraf Johaardien (left)were more than happy to give a minute from their busy schedule and share the reason for their visit to Grahamstown.

Mashile, Engelbrecht and Johaardien were at the 2008 National Arts Festival for the debut of their play, The Quiet Violence of Dreams, which is an adaptation of the book (entitle so) by the celebrated late South African writer, Sello Duiker.

Paying tribute Duiker's acclaimed novel, Johaardien emphasised that the script adaptation remains true to Duiker's original work. "It was a challenge to unpack Sello's mind to script as the narratives are woven into each other, that nonlinearity capturing the complexities of our lives today" said Johaardien.

Duiker's novel deals with sensitive issues in post apartheid South Africa with an emphasis on homosexuality, ascending black middle class and love. So intense is Duiker's engagement with these relavant issues that Engelbrecht had to consider the responsiveness of the audience when decoding the meanings in the play. " Mine was a challenge of extracting these issues from a page to public space and allowing the audience to channel the issues represented in the play into their own lives and recognise who they are in the system, without creating a space for condemnation" said Engelbrecht.

Mashile, who plays Mmabatho, the only female character, felt at home with the cast. "They're all exceedingly warm, there was instant chemistry and a special ensemble we remain." On social complications addressed, she emphasised the importance of engagement in terms of openly speaking about such issues that affect societies. "We live in a hypocritical society, dealing with spirituality, class, recently xenophobia and interracial relationships; so this play is bound to make a stir in society." Mashile finds comfort in her role as she relates to the character's self and obstacles. "Mmabatho is powerful, well educated and faces hardships with love and a friend who suffers a mental breakdown. Yet similar to me, she becomes anchored and self assured" said Mashile.

The production's strength is its star cast, namely; Antonio Lyons, Jacques Bessenger, Duke Motlanthe, Garth Collins and Elton Landrew. "In those moments of deep emotion, we offer each other a good sense of parenting, as they say; there is beauty in vulnerability" said Johaardien,

Making it's debut in this year's festival, The Quiet Violence of Dreams is a must watch. Beautifully executed, the audience connects with the issues at hand and their relevance is society. Speaking of aspirations, both the director and cast had confidence for a success at the festival and beyond.

07 July, 2008

Leave Peter alone. . . . please

by Kobus Pretorius (CPUT)

There’s been a lot of debate recently about Peter de Villiers team to play the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations opener. Some have argued that De Villiers has failed to select his best possible XV in order to beat New Zealand at home for the first time in a decade.

Generally people seem to be pretty happy with the forwards although there has been surprise at the inclusion of Joe van Niekerk above Pierre Spies and Ryan Kankowski.
I don’t understand why Van Niekerk’s selection has been a surprise. He had a good Super14, played very well when given a chance against Italy and has something like 47 caps.

Compare that to Spies who only played a handful of matches in the regional tournament, was ordinary against Wales and seems to stay in front of the pecking order even though he’s form has been pretty average.

Last but definitely not least is Ryan Kankowski. Kanko had a brilliant Super14 but unfortunately got injured in the Italy game. After seeing that knock he took it’s perplexing to think that he was considered for selection ahead of the Kiwi clash.

Apparently he didn’t suffer a concussion after being stretchered off the field but one would think that he should sit out this all important game. So when considering all this, the selection of Big Joe was really a no-brainer.

Now let’s move on to the backs. Ricky Januarie and Buth James pick themselves along with Jean de Villiers at inside centre. Adrian Jacobs’ selection isn’t a surprise either because he’s been backed all season by coach De Viliers and there was no indication that he would be replaced ahead of the Southern Hemisphere showpiece.

On the wing Bryan Habana picks himself even though he hasn’t scored a try since the semi-finals of the World Cup last year. Akona Ndungane’s inclusion, however, is a surprise seeing that he only made his debut two weeks ago against Italy. JP Petersen shouldn’t be an option either because he also is out of form and low on confidence.

What maybe should’ve happened was to move Conrad Jantjies to the wing to accommodate the experience of Percy Montgomery at fullback. Picking Jantjies ahead of Monty should not have happened because even though he has done nothing wrong to be axed, he has played on the wing before.

Add his prodigious boot to the mix and the Boks would’ve had a potent back three, especially in the wet conditions expected in Wellington. Frans Steyn was never an option to play wing because I don’t think we will ever see a white player starting at wing ever again. Besides, with Petersen and Ndungane there, De Villiers wouldn’t have been able to justify Steyn’s selection on the wing.

The bench looks strong with Luke Watson the right option as the replacement loose forward because he can cover both blindside flank as well as eight man, making sure that South Africa never lose their effectiveness at the breakdown.

In the end one of two things will happen. Either the Springboks will beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in ten years and thereby justify De Villiers’s selection policy. Or the Boks will lose and the coach will be wiser for the experience as it will open his eyes with regards to certain selections.

02 July, 2008

FJP At the National Arts Festival 2008

The Future Journalists Programme is at the 2008 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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