Two extraordinary one-handers come to the Baxter in October

One of the hardest, yet most-rewarding forms of theatre to create is undoubtedly the one-person show. It’s intimate, challenging and is often a transformative experience for both performer and audience. The Baxter is thrilled to have not one, but two, great single-handers opening in October, brought to us by prolific writer / director Hennie van Greunen, one of South Africa’s most-acclaimed theatre voices.

Normality, starring Pedro Kruger is the story of one man’s struggle to overcome his physical disability and find a way to be in the world, while The Sewing Machine starring Sandra Prinsloo focuses on the life of an ageing woman who is trying to make peace with the changing nature of the country she lives in. The Baxter Blog caught up with Hennie van Greunen and put a few questions to him about both of these productions.

NORMALITY starring Pedro Kruger. Directed by Shirley Ellis, written by Hennie van Greunen. Golden Arrow Studio: 17, 19, 20, 26, 27,30 & 31st of October. Book at Computicket.

Baxter Blog: What inspired you to create Normality around this particular illness?

HvG: Three things: ONE: I grew up with a sister who was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. TWO: Whoopi Goldberg’s 1984 Broadway solo show sent one-person theatre in a completely new and exciting direction. In the show she does a disabled character and for me, as a 19 year old who grew up with a disabled sibling, that sketch particularly resonated in many places in myself that I had, up to that point not revisited. THREE: Pedro Kruger’s incredible talents as pianist, songwriter, actor and storyteller inspired me to write this one-man musical.

BB: How was it received when it played at the Edinburgh Festival?

HvG: It was received fantastically: we received five 5-star reviews and the first fringereview.com Hidden Gem Award.

BB: What can an audience expect from this production?

HvG: The way in which the character of Alex looks at himself and his world is incredibly un-PC, so the audience can expect to travel from hysterical laughter to profound sadness. Also, the play is about so much more than disability: show me the person who does not have some or the other issue with his/her body and I’ll show you a liar. So Alex is a part of all of us.

THE SEWING MACHINE, starring Sandra Prinsloo. Written by Rachelle Greef and translated by Hennie van Greunen. Golden Arrow Studio: 23, 24 October & 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 & 10 November. Book at Computicket.

BB: What made you decide to do a translation of this production?

HvG: I believe in Story like other people believe in Religion. I have a firm belief that the key to understanding and peace lies in our shared humanity which we express best through story. Also South African theatre has so many stories that are diverse, passionate and human – a commodity that many first world countries have lost. I would love to see SA established as a country of origin of world-class theater and we proved this at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe when the SA season, especially Mies Julie and The Sewing Machine, were the talk of the festival.

BB: What do you imagine life to be like for aging white people grappling with a new reality?
HvG: I think one should be careful not to generalise about old white people, instead let’s look at old people of all races in all parts of the world: the unwillingness/inability to change, to shake prejudices reinforced by a lifetime, the fear of loneliness and the feelings of being left behind in a world where politics, technology and social mores & values change rapidly and continually.

BB: How has it been working with the incredible Sandra Prinsloo?
HvG: Working with an actor of Sandra’s experience and talent is a joy: we also tend to feel the same way about the work that we do together. It is incredible to work with someone who immediately knows which direction we’re heading and who can give me, as the director, exactly the picture that I saw in my head. We worked together again on the 2011 hit ‘Janneman’ and there are a few more projects that we want to do in the future.

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James Ngcobo speaks about Boesman and Lena and his love of directing

James Ngcobo is one of the most inspirational people you’re ever likely to meet. When the director of Boesman and Lena begins to talk about the work he is doing and his process, he is transformed into a passionate torrent of thoughts and ideas which he sprinkles liberally over an audience.

Ngcobo is resurrecting Boesman and Lena because ‘there is no sell-by date on great theatre’. He believes passionately in the work of Fugard, and argues that every year, the Russians do Chekhov, the Americans resurrect Tennessee Williams, but only here do we have a problem with revering our great writers.

Ngcobo is a self-taught theater afficionado and a man who has done almost everything there is to do on a South African stage. He learned from some of South Africa’s great directors and he is keen to pass on his philosophy of directing.

“The best work is done in rooms where there is joy”, says Ngcobo in another of his tweet-worthy quotes. For this production, he’s working with a dynamite cast of Elton Landrew, Quanita Adams and Charley Azade and believes firmly in the powers of collaboration. “The director is no longer the god in the room, those days are long gone.”

He also finds it easy to ask for help or a second opinion from people in the theatre community that he respects and his work reflects that inclusive approach.

Boesman and Lena is a story that Ngcobo is passionate about. He explains how South Africa has the highest number of immigrants in the world and how critically important it is to deal with the issue. But instead of creating a political drama, he’s used this show to create something personal. “At its heart, Fugard’s classic is a love story. Lena is a dreamer, she wants a better world while Boesman is a pragmatist. He’s wearing an armour of accepting that things cannot change, while Lena just longs for him to hold her,” he explains.

Ngcobo’s directing strength is in the details. He works on touches, small notes that the audience might not even notice but that all add to the integrity and weight of the piece. For instance, Ngcobo observes that Lena, in this production, is Muslim. That’s the kind of thing that may not be on the page, but is significant for the actress who is playing Lena. For Ngcobo, Lena is not simply a homeless woman. She was a daughter once too, maybe a sister. She is not defined by her surroundings alone.

Fundamentally, he operates with a “love of telling stories about the people who I share a land with”. And he knows intrinsically what is that audiences want to see. They don’t need theory, they don’t want care if it’s Dadaism or realism, they just want to see heart and soul on the stage.

Boesman and Lena runs at the Baxter Theatre Centre from the 5th to the 29th of September. Tickets range from R100 to R150 and are available now at Computicket. You can book right here.

Brett Bailey on medEia: “A straight drama is seldom enough for me”

Third World Bunfight’s medEia, one of the most astonishing pieces of visual theatre/storytelling to come out of post-apartheid South Africa comes to the Baxter for a short run in mid-September. In 2010, the Mail & Guardian newspaper declared it to be ‘best production of the decade’ and the show has won extensive awards all around the world.

In 2012, the production has been transformed from a site-specific format to the more traditional theatre stage to accomodate an extensive European tour. We caught up with Brett Bailey on the eve of the tour to find out more about the production.

Why are you bringing back medEia at this time, or did it never really go away?
Brett Bailey: I love this work. The text is really lyrical, evocative and poetic. It is studded with the lyrics of 80’s pop songs, and locates this dark classical tragedy firmly in the 21st century. I find it works really well with the themes that I explore: the fractious relationship between Africa and Europe, immigration, and ritual. I have been trying to get this staged in Europe for a couple of years already. I was hoping to restage the rambling site-specific version that I made at Spier in 2005 (elected best production of the decade by the Mail and Guardian), but with the cuts to European cultural budgets, such large-scale productions are too costly. So I have adapted the play for stage, and am loving it.

This subject matter seems to never go away, as witnessed by our recent Purgatorio here. What is it about this story that continues to resonate?
Brett Bailey: These ancient stories that survive in our consciousness for millennia have strong universal threads. The story tells of the human yearning for freedom and a better life; of love and betrayal; of jealousy and terrible revenge. We can identify with these emotions, and in Greek tragedy they are portrayed on a vast, archetypal scale.

What can Baxter audiences expect from the new production?
Brett Bailey: A straight drama is seldom enough for me. I always like to knit together several genres and influences. In this production I work with a smoky jazz concert ambiance (brought alive with the sensual drumming of ace drummer Frank Paco), ritual, spoken word artistry, and drama. The fusion gives this dark tragedy a cool, funky feel.

I live this contrast of violence and intensity with beauty and groove.

Tell us a little about your amazing upcoming tours and why you think European audiences are so smitten with this work.
Brett Bailey: medEia will tour Zurich and Basel before we open at the Baxter, and then hit Berlin, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and 5 other Dutch cities. I reckon there is interest in this work because there is a good deal of curiosity in Africa at present, and immigration is a hot topic in Europe as the left and right wing political factions battle to gain ground within a context of collapsed economies, unemployment, a huge influx of asylum seekers and the resulting xenophobia. These are the themes I explore in the work.
Also, my works have been touring extensively in Europe for the past ten years, and have become collectible items for festival directors.

What should someone in the audience do /read to prepare for the production?
Brett Bailey: It would be good to read a summary of the Medea plot – scan it on Wikipedia. The text is pretty fragmented, so an overall grasp on the story would be enriching. Otherwise just come with your imagination and an open mind.

Live drumming with the amazing Frank Paco? Wow…What’s the thinking behind that…
As I mentioned, Oscar van Woensel’s script is spangled with the lyrics of pop songs, and the text has a wonderful musicality. I am first and foremost a visual theatre maker, but I decided to start from the sound of the text this time, and really to make the work a rich audial experience. I wanted a lazy, lounge sound to underpin the entire show, and when I thought of the drummer I’d most like to work with, it was obviously Frank. Never thought he’d oblige, but sometimes you got to go out on a limb: he accepted immediately…
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MedEia runs at the Baxter Theatre Centre for 5 shows only, from the 12th to the 15th of September. Tickets are R120 each and can be booked here. Or call 021 680 3962 to enquire about block bookings.

Nicky Rebelo: ‘Like Shakespeare or Van Gogh, Bosman will never be irrelevant’

Nicky Rebelo is an actor, director and writer who has spent much of his career thinking and writing about Herman Charles Bosman, the mercurial writer who’s work still resonates in a South Africa that is vastly different to the one he lived in. Not only is Bosman one of South Africa’s greatest short-story writers, but his life story is the stuff of legend. Rebelo’s latest work, starring the astonishing David Butler, looks at the short time that Bosman spent teaching in the Groot Marico and the profound effect it had on his life.

Baxter Blog: Why Bosman? Why now? Is it still relevant for South Africans?
Nicky Rebelo: Bosman was one of the first South African writers, writing in English to stress the importance of writing from a South African point of view. He saw himself first as a South African and an African and did not concern himself with the narrow cultural distinctions, which some people love to hang on to. Bosman’s writing is appreciated today because it is very good writing. It is true art. True art is relevant for all ages. Just like Shakespeare or Mozart or Van Gogh will never be irrelevant, so too does Bosman’s writing remain relevant.

BB: Is this the first production to ever focus just on this period of his life?
NR: Yes it is.

BB: How did you come up with this production and how long has it been germinating?
NR: This production was a natural follow up to my first Bosman play A Touch of Madness, which was performed all over the country from 1998 to 2008. David sourced the material in order to do a performance at the unveiling of the replica school building at which Bosman taught in 1926 in Groot Marico, I then adapted and shaped the material to create the show A Teacher in the Bushveld, which premiered at the 2009 Grahamstown Festival.

BB: What do you think Bosman would have made of the 21st Century media environment?
NR: I’ve no idea. All I’m certain of is that whaterever he would have said about it would have been highly original and extremely witty.

BB: What’s the key to a successful one=man show?
NR: Holding the audience spellbound, which requires an excellent text, brilliant direction from a director who understands rythm, tone, music and pace and a very good actor.

BB: Where to from here? A movie? A musical?
NR: I am at present working on the film script based on Bosman’s life and work.

A Teacher In The Bushveld runs in the Golden Arrow Studio until 3 July. Book through Computicket.

Daniel & Matthew Pencer on creating the soundtrack to Mies Julie

During the winter of 2010, the director of the upcoming Mies Julie, Yael Farber, began frequenting Le Depanneur Cafe in Montreal where two brothers, Daniel and Matthew Pencer, were performing a weekly 2-hour musical improvisation. Their idea was to “accompany the space, giving less of a performance, more of ‘existing in the room’. This musical concept resonated particularly well with Farber and the style of theatre she creates, and when she suggested a collaboration on her forthcoming production ofKadmos, a strong creative partnership was born.

The partnership was so successful that Farber invited the Pencer brothers to Cape Town in order to develop a musical soundscape for the forthcoming production of Mies Julie, now in development at the Baxter.

Matthew Pencer was originally a drummer, until he began doing sound design on computers, for radio and mixing. He explains that “At one point I began incorporating drum machines into my setup, basically a programmable synthesizer. The more I played, the more I got interested in programming and began experimenting with my computer as an instrument. Eventually I became obsessed with the potential of using various technologies for music.”

Younger brother Daniel Pencer has been studying the clarinet and sax for 17 years. He has “a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz performance at the University of Toronto where I studied music ranging from Balinese Gamelan to classical clarinet to West African drumming. After all that, I continued my studies in India, learning North Indian classical music on the Clarionette and Bansuri.”

Creating music for a new theatrical work brings its own challenges. Due to the fact that the work is always changing and morphing, ‘the sonic accompaniment’ needs to keep up. “The music we create is largely improvised at first and our challenge is to recreate what Miss Farber thinks is appropriate for her vision,” says Matthew. “It takes a lot of patience and a keen understanding of how each scene is transitioning into the next. Being aware of the character’s moods and emotional narrative is integral to our process of creating sound accompaniment.”

The musical team is enhanced by the presence of Mama NoFirst, a Xhosa throat-singer from the Eastern Cape who performs as part of the Ngoqoko Cultural Group. The Smithsonian Folkways site explains that “Throat-singing, a guttural style of singing or chanting, is one of the world’s oldest forms of music.In throat-singing, a singer can produce two or more notes simultaneously through specialized vocalization technique taking advantage of the throat’s resonance characteristics.”

Watch this video as an example:

How do the Pencers feel about working with South African artists? “It’s been a real pleasure meeting such wonderfully warm people! The knowledge that Mama Nofirst has shared with us so far is invaluable and what an incredible musical force! The cast has been welcoming and encouraging. It’s an honour to work with such talented artists in such an intense theatre process. What can you say about Miss Farber? She takes no prisoners and her unrelenting work ethic is an inspiration. Her encouragement and straight up directing style allows us to work efficiently and as a team to propel all of our hard work into the devastating beauty that she is envisioning.”

Finally, they were asked what the soundtrack to Mies Julie would be like….”imagine Morton Feldman meets Yamataka Eye meets Mama Nofirst”, and if that means nothing to you, then you’ll just have to come and see the show!

You can listen a snippet of the Pencer’s previous experimental improvised work here: http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F24086639&show_artwork=true

Mies Julie runs at the Grahamstown Festival from the 2nd to the 4th of July. (Book online here). It runs at the Baxter from 11 July to 26 July. (Book online here). The run continues at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by the Pretoria State Theatre.

Mies Julie: ‘exploring the national within the realm of the personal’

Award-winning South African director Yael Farber is currently in rehearsal at the Baxter Theatre Centre, creating her first new South African work since the international touring hit Molora, an adaptation of the Oresteia Trilogy.

Farber’s works have toured extensively over the last ten years, earning her a reputation for hard-hitting, controversial works of the highest artistic standard.

In 2012, she has chosen to adapt the August Strindberg classic Miss Julie to a South African setting. She took a break during rehearsals to speak to us about the work.

Baxter Blog (BB): Why did you select Miss Julie as a piece to rework in a South African context?
Yael Farber (YF): Strindberg’s original Miss Julie was a piece that created great controversy in its time. It remains a compelling examination of the power dynamics between classes and genders. It struck me as a good palette upon which to look at some of the emerging issues that exist between South Africans. The shifts as well as the stagnations of who holds the power. Power comes in many forms. In the economic sense, this is intrinsically tied up with who owns the land and how this has failed to be addressed in the emerging new vision for the country. I wanted to create a work that captures this and the other subtle forms of complicated colonizing that occurred as a result of apartheid. Miss Julie allows me explore what Greek Tragedy offers: The palette to explore the national within the realm of the personal and domestic.

BB: You’ve adapted a number of works during your career, including Shakespeare and Greek tragedies. What’s the hardest thing about adapting an existing piece of work?
YF: What to mess with and what to retain as the spine of the audience’s experience. Moving along the track of the original plot and characters’ arcs, offers a powerful series of common reference points upon which you let the audience move with you. But turning these expectations on their heads is also crucial to an adaptation – otherwise it becomes too pat. Subverting expectations based on the original should not be done just for effect – or it can be terribly contrived. These choices have to come from a place of integrity, aligned with what you are trying to say with the work. Making these choices can be the most challenging part of an adaptation.

BB: Miss Julie has a special place in the Baxter’s history, mainly due to the barriers it challenged in the 80’s. What can SA audiences expect this time around?
YF: Sexual relations across the colour line – while still interesting and/or shocking for some – is hardly the shocker (not to mention law breaker! – in South Africa that it once was. I don’t believe that this is the compelling point of a MISS JULIE in contemporary South Africa. Land issues, ownership, power, sexuality, mothers, memories. These are what remain as shrapnel from our history. The battle of these primal issues in a kitchen over a single night between a farm labourer and his Baas’s daughter – is what MIES JULIE has its hand in. Kitchens are places of steam and heat and making and devouring and talking. We aim for this MIES JULIE to bring the heat to the fore in all senses.

BB: How has living in Canada changed or grown your vision and the way you direct? (if at all)
YF: There is always the growth one incurs by being displaced. Its the hardest but most powerfully challenging experience to place yourself outside your context. I have gained great perspectives from this experience. I have enjoyed a certain dignity that theatre is afforded in North America. But what I am most affected by is how unique South Africa is. Being away and creating in other places only serves to high light why I love and appreciate where i come from and the artists that this country has wrought. There is an intimacy and powerful connection that ties us together here. This is a post-traumatic society. Yes. Its even a present-traumatic society. It makes theatre – GOOD theatre – a necessity. Like in Ancient Greece. Not to attend theatre in ancient Greece was illegal because it made you a better citizen to face yourself in those arenas. South Africa needs theatre – powerful, brave theatre – in the same way those soldiers returning from war to Athens needed it. As artists in South Africa – we need to rise to the challenge of creating such theatre. Because its needed here. Its by being away that one’s vision for this grows and the hunger to continue to answer this call remains.

BB: Tell us a little about the performers who will be appearing in this production?
YF: The three actors who play the leads (there are no extras) are powerful in their own rights. Thoko Ntshinga is a veteran performer. Originally part of the Market Theatre and Barney Simon’s searing productions of the 70s and 80s, Thoko has lived and performed through the crucial trajectory in SA. She is a powerhouse performer who brings her capacity to the role of Christine. John is played by Bongile Mantsai, and Miss Julie by Hilda Cronje. These two potent performers bring the passion, emotion and sensuality that this piece demands.
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Mies Julie runs at the Grahamstown Festival from the 2nd to the 4th of July. (Book online here). It runs at the Baxter from 11 July to 26 July. (Book online here). The run continues at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by the Pretoria State Theatre.

James Cairns on ‘Dirt’ and the art of the one-man show

From the 15th to the 24th of August, the weird and wonderful mind of James Cairns will inhabit the Golden Arrow Studio at the Baxter Theatre. Cairns is performing his one-man show ‘Dirt’ where he inhabits the soul of three friends and one dog. We caught up with him to pick his brain about what he’s bringing to Cape Town audiences.

Baxter Blog: Where did the inspiration for Dirt come from?
James Cairns: Nick Warren is the writer and the characters and situations are loosely based on a poker school that he was a member of.

BB: What’s the secret to being able to switch effortlessly between characters?
JC: Ninja powers of concentration.

BB: What are the pros of a one man show?
JC: If I fluff my lines, no-one knows except me.

BB: And the cons?
JC: No matter how big the standing ovation, you still have to go back to the dressing room on your own and hi-five yourself. No-one to share the experience with.

BB: What great work did you see at the Grahamstown Festival, if any?
JC: I saw The Feather Collector, which despite uber-crap venue, rose to the occasion admirably. Great stuff, directed by Mongi Nthombeni and starring a cast of young performers who surprised me every step of the way. It was the only thing I stood up for during the whole festival.

BB: What can audience members expect when they come see Dirt?
JC: A robust, hilarious, story about three old friends on their way to
bury a fourth. Great writing, slick performance and a story that talks
to all of us.

BB: When did you last perform in Cape Town?
JC: Last year, September at Kalk Bay, with Dirt, in fact.

BB: Did you once win “Who wants to be a millionaire?”?
JC: I did indeed. Not the million, but nonetheless, a princely sum at that time in my life.

BB: Are you a millionaire?
JC: I am not. It’s all lies…

Dirt is running in the Golden Arrow Studio from the 15th to the 27th of August.

Purgatorio reviews begin rolling in

Now that the pressure of the opening weekend is behind them, the Purgatorio cast and crew can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on delivering top-quality theatre every night of the week.

All the reviews that we’ve seen so far have been positive, informed and intelligent.

We’ve collected all the online reviews we’ve seen so far in one place so you can browse them at your leisure. If you find any others, please let us know and we’ll build this collection.

What’s On In Cape Town

Kiss This Twice

The Daily Maverick

Your Soapbox

The Writing Studio

The unheralded courage of actors in rehearsal


Rehearsals for Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorio are in full swing at the Baxter Theatre, and have been for the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been a full month. A full month of 7+ hours every day where two actors, Terry Norton and Dawid Minnaar, stand alone on the stage and grapple with some of the most intense and emotional concepts ever committed to script, by the incomparable Ariel Dorfman.

For those of us on the periphery looking in, it’s been an education in the theatre arts, and so revealing as to what it takes to bring a work of this nature to the stage. We know about the skill and craft of actors, but what about the courage?

The bravery of soldiers, policemen, firemen is well documented and celebrated around the world. Everyone can relate to, or at least admire, the courage required to stand in the face of danger and do what needs to be done for the sake of a higher cause. But who ever thinks about what is required of two actors to delve into the blackest parts of their soul and bring to the surface their darkest impulses, their deepest fears? Every day they deliver ideas. statements and actions which leave an audience reeling, emotionally fragile and rubbed raw by what they witness on the stage.

What does it take to go to work every single day and conjure up those demons? One can barely imagine.

Both Norton and Minaar admit that Purgatorio is probably the hardest thing they have ever done on stage. It’s a relentless text, a juggernaut of emotion that is spellbinding…and horrifying. Gradually, the audience comes to understand the complete nightmare of the situation that these two people are confronting, and the full horror of the actions that have placed them in this place of purgatory.

It’s never over-wrought, or manipulative. It is what it is. The dark night of the soul. And for the actors it has to be a monumental effort of will, with only each other and their small team around them, to bring these characters to life day in and day out.

I won’t give away the story here right now. But it’s loosely based on the ancient text of Jason and Medea, so murder, revenge, infanticide, and suicide is never far from the action. For the actors to be able to go to those places, day in and day out, in front of an appreciative audience is one thing. There is an acknowledgement at the end of the show. But to stand in a cold, airless rehearsal room and confront your very own heart of darkness is truly an act of bravery, and a sacrifice of the highest order.

Audiences who come to Purgatorio are witnessing some of the bravest, most committed work that has been put onto a South African stage for a long, long time. There is an emotional, intellectual sacrfice that these actors have made which will hopefully be acknowledged when the curtain goes up on this spellbinding production.

Author Ariel Dorfman discusses the origins of ‘Purgatorio’

Purgatorio is a pivotal work for me. Although it takes up many of the themes that have been central to my previous work (the dilemmas of forgiveness and retribution, the uncertainty of memory, the search for some ray of hope in times of terror and betrayal, the problem of identity in a world of false fundamentalisms), those themes were explored primarily in a historical moment and brought into focus by some primeval form of violence (torture in Death and the Maiden, censorship in Reader, disappearances in Widows, an array of forms of repression in Voices from Beyond the Dark: the Speak Truth to Power play), it is in Purgatorio that I plunge for the first time into the naked (and masked, of course) human relations without an immediate political context.

In that sense, it is a play that asks us all questions about redemption and myth and above all if it is possible for love to prevail when terrible things have been done to us and, far too often, by us.

Everything I have written since then has deepened this exploration.

Now as to the origin of that story, at first I wasn’t sure where the confrontation between that man and that woman happened, but slowly realized that it was the afterlife, and that they needed each other’s absolution to be reincarnated or simply to be purged of what they had done. Although the place I have imagined is not quite the Christian Purgatory, and certainly not Dantesque, inasmuch as there seems to be no God who can deliver these two from each other (in fact, it seems to echo Buddhism, if anything at all), I loved the idea of calling it Purgatorio, also a name that works in many languages, another thing I am fascinated with as a bilingual author.

And is going to appear, after all, in a multilingual country, such as South Africa, a land close to my heart and also experiencing the problems of damage and reconciliation between former enemies that is central to the play. And because this work has echoes about colonialism, about men who come from afar to a land that is not theirs and the women who receive them and cross over to the foreign culture only to then be betrayed by their invader/lovers, because there are hints that they belong to two different races, this might resonate in your country in ways that could be singular.

Though, of course, finally, what matters is not any political message embedded in the depths of Purgatorio, but that the audience empathize with the two characters, in turn, and then together. The play, after all, really transpires in the mutual mind of them both – they are as joined as a Moebius Strip, looping into each other, entangled in ways that we all are with those we love (and also, paradoxically, with those we hate), so we cannot be with one without being with the other, until we all reach what I hope is a satisfying finale to this odyssey of self-discovery.