Each year, the Wits Theatre runs an O-Week programme comprising of original work created by returning 2nd, 3rd and final year students. As well as welcoming new Dramatic Arts students into the theatre community, and extending the invitation to all first years and newbies to join in the chaos, the programme serves a vital role in the development of young voices from within the Dramatic Arts school.
With no input from lecturers, department heads or staff, students are left to explore their own new notions of live performance. In an industry grinding to a musty halt, far surpassed by stand-up comedy, cinema and all-ages dinner theatre, the O-Week programme presents an opportunity for developing critical theatre-makers to experiment freely with content and form.
Plays run from Tuesday 3 February to Friday 7 February in various spaces around The Wits Theatre. All are welcome and performances are free. Here is Live’s pick of the programme:
GIRLS BOYS FUCKING AND TYRE-SWINGS is written and directed by Emma Tollman. This stylized piece combines text and dance with a live score and cinematic intervention. Tollman weaves the tales of kids, sex and the city of Joburg in a schizophrenic dystopian vision. Inspired by chaos, MTV and multiple centres of attention, the work seeks to re-find the vitality of live audiences in the theatre space. The show also features Live contributor Colleen Balchin as Cece.
HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES is a devised piece of visual and physical theatre that is inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, created by means of a collaborative process between director, designer, and cast. “We attempted to draw on several South African traditions, in both means and mode, resulting in a successful education as to what it means to be a young South African theatre-maker” – Nicola Pilkington, director.
MAID IN SA features the quintessential local figures of maid and madam. With a majority of urban youth of all races being raised at least in part by the typically black domestic worker – half servant, half nanny – the relationship dynamics in these interactions are wildly varied and strikingly complex. In collaboration with the cast, director Roberto Queiroz utilises monologue and frozen images to re-interrogate the everyday relationships that impact so heavily on the modern psychology of South Africa’s youth.
SKROOTHONDE (Scrap Dogs) is the only Afrikaans-language play in the festival – and indeed in the Theatre’s more recent history. The work is staged in the battered courtyard of The Wits Theatre’s double-volume workshop. In a set of found objects, rubbish and sharp edges, director Tiaan Lubbe references Absurdist theatre. He aims “to present … the audience with a world so realistic, yet outrageous that it influences their way of life, in either fear of it coming true or passion of not letting it.” Written by Willem Anker.