In #HeTwo: Evita exposed Pieter-Dirk Uys and Evita Bezuidenhout come face-to-face in a unique confrontation. There can only be one winner. So here is a Q & A session between Pieter and Dirk who seldom allow a face-to-face confrontation.

Is this your last show? Every show is a last show in the theatre, because tomorrow there will be a different audience, which means the timing is different, laughs come in new places and the energy is fresh and full.

What is different in #HeTwo? Well, Evita and I literally share the stage at the same time. There is so much footage I have of her since 1981 with famous and infamous people, entertaining the superstars, embracing Madiba and Tutu, making edge-line speeches in foreign lands, material which I can then balance with characters on stage who comment on her and the state of the world. It is also the first time EVER that I leave the stage to change into a character. Since 1981 I have always done it in the light in front of everyone.

It feels like a farewell to Evita. I would be sorry to see her go, but again I am led by the politics of the moment. If President Cyril Ramaphosa appoints her as the South African Ambassador to Luxembourg, she will have to go. Hope it won’t be to North Korea or New Zealand. That’s just too far to send a whisper across the world.

What motivated #HeTwo? The #MeToo movement has been a great motivator, because it is time that women are heard, seen and respected as equals, and in many ways, unique leaders of society. I though about a #HeToo because it is also men and boys who suffer the indignity of harassments and innuendo. Then, as with my 1981 revue Adapt or Dye, I had taken PW Botha’s ‘adapt or die’ and with a change in spelling created a new platform. Therefore #HeTwo – the two being me and my shadow, Mrs B.

Political correctness has always been your bête-noir. Can we say that word aloud still? Apartheid was politically correct and for most of my life fighting the injustices, which meant that I was politically-incorrect and often punished as a result. To now suddenly wear the halo of political correctness in a democracy? For me it just doesn’t make sense. Politics is NEVER correct; it is a adaptation of panic, illogicality, truth, lies, fear and futility. If the fact that I impersonate people/characters on stage – people who are not white – and ‘do’ superstars like Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Jacob Zuma, and Desmond Tutu, is it being seen as politically-incorrect and racist? Toughies. It’s been my job as an entertainer for 40 years. I have impersonated them all: black, white, brown, male, female and convertible.

To play a trans character in a film or a play, must a trans performer be cast? And must a woman play a woman? Whatever happened to the word ACTING? The success of a story, either on screen or stage, is to cast the best performer to play the part. It you have a murder mystery, does your main protagonist have to be a real murderer to play one? Nonsense! Of course you shouldn’t cast against type to the extent that you lose credibility of character, and yes, today it is possible and challenging to cast across the colour lines and see a black Hamlet and a Chinese Ophelia. The fact that I portray female as well as males is part of the fun of theatre. Making the women recognise the women and the men to forget the man.

And the politics of the day? In my work politics is the lifeblood of the drama. Satire is usually unleashed through bad politics that need to be made ridiculous, contemptuous and funny – even though it never is funny in the ha-ha sense of the sound. I believe that if we can laugh at our fear and make it less fearful, we will see beyond the barbed wire fence of fear. Laughing at fear doesn’t make it less lethal; but at least you’ve got your eye on it. Keep your eye on it; give it a name – it will then never become taller than you. Look away and it becomes a 100 meter monster that will frighten you to death. Also there is nothing more enjoyable than laughing at arrogant, crooked, useless politicians. They can’t take it, e.g. The Donald in the White House.

Who are the bad guys on your stage? I don’t work with bad guys. I mention them, but I have to believe that the worst of my targets also has a sense of humour and certainly the charisma to become a chosen leader. That demands certain respect which gives the character belief. Brutal cartooning is easy. One has great power on a stage. I never belittle or demean through my comedy.

Do you deliver a message? Yes! Come back for more!

What do you want the audience to leave the theatre with? Maybe I’m a failed satirist, because satirists take no prisoners. I must find some compassion with the targets I dismember, because, as during the white Afrikaner leadership of apartheid, there by the grace of a giggle go I. I am a terminal optimist, having been in the theatre for over 40 years and Theatre does not tolerate the negative. You just got to believe that a crazy idea of a 1848 street revolt in Paris with an unpronouncable title would end up as Les Miserables that earned over $3 billion so far.

If you ever met Evita Bezuidenhout face to face, what would you say/do? I’d say: Excuse me, but I have to take this call – and run!

How much of your time do you spend on her? People think I sleep in Evita’s nightie! Now I spend about 2% of my time with the character: mainly dieting for this woman who doesn’t exist. Sound crazy, but it’s what the people see that makes the character work. Evita has been with me for so long that she has enough information and opinions to fill 4 hours without taking a breath. Her clothes are important. If I take her off-stage, the shoes must be expensive and new, or all women walk away disgusted. No dirty nails! And focus her speech on the issues of the day, not as a politician, but as a gogo of three black grandchildren, a member of the ANC, a citizen and a designer-democrat.

And racism? That’s a big wake-up call at every performance. My pet hate is racism, that evilly fabricated weapon of mass destruction. The only race I acknowledge is the human race. And yet especially today in our 25 year old democracy, racism is being used as a tool of fear, a way to blame, a ploy to end an argument before it started; to divide and rule. Yes, it’s okay for populist Malema racism, but not okay for dying silly old Penny Sparrow. And yet in order to expose racism, you must show it. K-words sometimes must be used. Not a comfortable decision which depends also on the issue at hand. I hate doing it.

Do you ever find her funny? Yes, because she has no sense of humour or sense of irony. When people laugh at her, she smiles and thinks it’s sweet. It’s also the reason she’s survived for so long. A sense of humour can get you into hot water and sadly we have a new young generation  who seem to suffer from an irony bypass. A bit like Tannie herself.

Who is your audience? Anyone who will give me the 4 hours of their time to come to where I’m performing. They have to set their burglar alarms, feed the Rottweilers, load the gun, reverse their four-by-fours out of the garage hoping the burglars don’t slip in, risk their life in the City traffic which turns them into racists within 20 seconds. They find the theatre, park their car, kiss the car goodbye, get their tickets and sit and wait for me. And then it’s up to me to give them a life-changing experience, which means they will come back over and over again, because they want more of this thing called theatre, because it is LIVE.

How different are the performances in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban? Performances vary night by night because of the variations of people that sit together and react. Johannesburg is a megacity with the tensions of big business, big mouths and big noise. Cape Town tiptoes in and sometimes nods off. Durban hears about the show after you’ve already left. Bloemfontein walks out when you say poep and kak, and Port Elizabeth…? Well, I’m not sure any more. My most secure stage is at Evita se Perron in Darling where I perform at least 90 times during a year, usually on a Saturday and a Sunday. I have ten productions ready and try and do each one at least twice a month to make sure it’s all up to date and still in my seventy-three year old head. Yip, I suppose it’s a bit like showing off in the lounge because everyone feels at home. Including the Perron cats who sometimes sit on the piano and criticise me with yawns.

You perform overseas? Do they get us? I usually have more of a problem getting them! Playing the USA you have to focus on the tweeted noise of Trump. A show in London grinds into chaos with Brexit. The Dutch hate being reminded that Jan van Riebeeck and Hendrik Verwoerd were one of them. The Germans want to see more lions in my streets. I usually do a lot of research where I perform, so I can anchor my characters there and not have to bring an audience all the way to South Africa. Once I open the closets of international politics with their racism, hypocrisy, arrogance and separate developments, I have enough to fill an entire evening. Except sometimes they don’t find it funny and then I know I’ve succeeded.

People have been complaining about your swearwords: Isn’t that wonderful? After 46 years of vicious apartheid and 25 years of diminishing returns from our government, they still find certain words more offensive than the rape of women, the abuse of children, the state capture, the propaganda through fear and that elephant in the room, climate change. I love Afrikaans vloekwoorde. They are so poetic, or as I explain to the offended patron: poesie met twee dotjies op die e!

Are you careful not to offend your audiences? I am careful not to insult patrons who can’t hit back. Demeaning people is cheap and nasty. Making fun of those mentally or physically disabled is not my style. But to offend people? Great! Shows I’ve rattled their cage of opinion, usually about politics. So let them be offended and ask themselves: why does he think that and I think this? Changes of attitude and thought could be in the offing.

Do you have enough young people in your audience? Does one every have enough young people in a theatre audience. I’m no Lady Gaga or Madonna to appeal to the XYZ generation. Sadly we did not prepare them for the choice of live theatre against tinned fashion. Schools do not include theatre in their year plan. Media focus on theatre is minimal. So I celebrate young people who come and say to them: I’m 73; you’re 14. Let’s make a deal. You make me feel 16, and I’ll make you feel 24. And if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, just Google. You have more information in the palm of your hand than the world has ever delivered. Now all you need is the knowledge. It’s wonderful when an 11 year old comes up and says after the show:  I loved the pictures. I said: what pictures? The pictures in my head.

How come you are in the theatre since 1964? I went to UCT to become a teacher and then the theatre highjacked me. After four years at Drama School, it was life imprisonment without trial. So now I suppose I know nothing about anything, and everything about something.

What’s the difference in your work now that you’re over 70+? I hope the disease to please is cured. For too long I worried about what people would think. I would cut my foot to fit the public shoe, but no longer. I don’t need to explain or apologize. If people don’t like it, get Netflix and have a good time there too. At 73, it’s easier to say to the grumpies: Gaan kak.

Plans for the future? You mean tomorrow? I’ve made my list. Looking forward to it. My year used to have 365 days; now it has two days – today and tomorrow. Besides, I’m already in my future.

And retirement? Can’t spell the word.

The Pieter-Dirk Uys Legacy? That’s a tough one. When you’re gone, you’re gone. I just hope once I’ve finished my stay on the toilet of life, I flush before I go.

Something people don’t know about you? Lots. If I’m in a swimming pool and it rains, I get out because I don’t want to get wet.

Any regrets? Not regrets, but interested in people who do wonderful things that I enjoy and would have loved doing myself – if there was time. But there is only enough time to do what you do well. Fear is the bitch. When you’re frightened, you can’t do anything. But fear can also be your own refection in the mirror of your mind. Save your life as an example to others. Good luck – and come to the theatre.

www.pdu.co.za

www.evita.co.za

@TannieEvita

(#HeTwo is at the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town from 28 August to 14 September – book at Computicket. The 2019 Voorkamerfest in Darling takes place 6, 7, 8 September – www.voorkamerfest-darling.co.za – book via Quicket)

A risqué Romeo and Juliet

Lesley Stones

08/27/2019 09:43:56

Lesley Stones: You have to admire the pluck of theatrical producers Abrahamse & Meyer for not taking the easy route.

Their latest production is Shakespeare’s R&J, and it’s both risky and risqué. Risky in that Shakespeare isn’t a guaranteed crowd puller, and risqué in that this version has a strong gay element that’s already seen some teachers cancel their planned school visits.

The eternal love story is now set in a Catholic boys’ boarding school in the 1950s, where the young scholars get hold of a copy of Romeo and Juliet and act it out at night.

The clever adaptation by Joe Calarco starts innocuously, with the daily rigmaroles at school punctuated by the insistent bell. Lessons spent conjugating verbs or reading from bizarre old-fashioned texts about the different roles of men and women. (Hopefully to set the scene in the 1950s, rather than to reflect what boarding school boys might still be taught.)

Blackboards swing over to become church iconography and desks and benches summon up the classroom setting. Then come playful scraps in a dormitory of bunk beds and the boyish breaking of rules. By now the actors have established their traits, with Matthew Baldwin standing out as the natural choice for Romeo, with his floppy romantic hair, lovesick swooning and a schoolboy eagerness to capture the fractures of his heart in an ever-present notebook.

The four actors play out highlights from Shakespeare’s script that give us all the action without any of the periphery. Simple props like blankets and bedside cabinets are all they have for their impromptu drama, so sheets turn into a nurse’s headdress and bunkbeds double for the balcony window from where Juliet is wooed.

Around that, Calarco has built a current of awakening sexuality that sees Baldwin’s schoolboy falling for his classmate (Tailyn Ramsamy) as much as his Romeo is falling for Ramsamy’s Juliet. That simmering and illicit infatuation angers the other boys, played by Dean Balie and Jeremy Richard, heaping up the tension as they wonder whether to curtail the heated late-night drama.

Shakespeare’s undiluted text fills the script, but a strange thing happens. In the hands and mouths of these supposed Catholic schoolboys, the words become more comprehensible than has been achieved in many other versions that I’ve seen. The innuendos are highlighted with schoolboy jests and the passions and anger portrayed vividly.

All four are excellent in their parts, with Ramsamy softening his features and voice to give Juliet a certain shyness. Richard reminds you what a good actor he is with his portrayal of The Nurse, when he suddenly swings from the sullen schoolboy angered by his classmates to become the nurse again, with his voice and demeanour changing instantly. Dean Balie is in total command as Mercutio and Friar Lawrence, with the only downside being that his skill and maturity suddenly seem disproportionate to the fact that he’s supposed to be a schoolboy.

Director Fred Abrahamse also designed the set and its excellent lighting, while Marcel Meyer worked as the voice and verse coach and costume designer. They’re created a winning production. The words zing into life, the actors capture the boys with all their young bravado and uncertainty, and Calarco’s adaptation gives you the right amount of traditional Shakespeare with a freshness that give you new insights into the meaning.

As for the gayness, it might deter stodgy teachers, but it works superbly.

                                                                                                                                                              WWW.ARTSLINK.CO.ZA

Taking the city by storm, HERE’S TO YOU, now on at Montecasino, is as much a celebration of the music of the brilliant duo that was SIMON AND GARFUNKEL as it is a celebration of the incredible talent that is showcased on that stage.

Young, exciting and at the top of their game, these 8 performers will astound you with their musicality and tight harmonies as they perform one familiar Simon and Garfunkel hit after the other. There are some lesser known songs tucked in too, to add a touch of the unknown or less-familiar. Even the familiar tunes are given a spruce up with exquisite arrangements from the likes of Bryan Schimmel and Wessel Odendaal, along with Daniel Keith Geddes and Jaco van Rensburg.

“HERE’S TO YOU is a fresh take on Simon & Garfunkel’s classic songs that speak to all ages. The production features thrillingly fresh, yet beautifully faithful re-interpretations of the duo’s evergreen songs, blending nostalgia and imagination, so that generations, young and old can discover the magic of their music as if for the very first time.

Simon & Garfunkel’s music is always unexpected and full of story, making it the ideal source material for a theatrical production.

However, we did not want this production to be just about them, or us, so for the most part this show is not a history lesson or an impersonation. Instead we wanted to make the show for you – the audience.

Perhaps something in this songbook resonates closely with a time in your own life-be it long ago,or just today.

So, Here’s to You!”

-The original Cast and Creative Team 2019

 

JOHANNESBURG UNTIL 28 JULY

CAPE TOWN 31 JULY-17 AUGUST

Two of South Africa’s best-loved entertainers join forces for the very first time to create a truly memorable musical show. The ever-popular André Schwartz and Coenie de Villiers have collaborated to bring us the heartfelt GRENSLOOS. Says Coenie: “For years we’ve been threatening to create a show together. This is it!”

“There are actually four of us on stage, the “other two” being twin grand pianos because we both play piano during the performance. Everybody knows that André is a singer of international renown but not everyone realizes that he is also a whizz behind the keyboard,” declares Coenie. “It’s also a quieter and more introspective musical show.”

GRENSLOOS means “without borders”, as well as not weeping about something. But why this title? “We wanted to create an experience that would cross boundaries and borders,” says André. “There are wonderful but less well-known songs from France and Holland in the show, and of course also from South Africa. We sing some of our own compositions as well, a few of which have never been heard before by our fans. We aim to present a show without compromises – without borders, as it were – one never knows when the chance will come around again.”

During the concert André and Coenie also reminisce over their first recordings – some of which go back all the way to the seventies. “It’s a bit like reviewing the faded photos of one’s matric farewell,” they joke. “Hopefully both of us have matured over the years. Now we have the confidence to do the things we have always wanted to do. And, of course, it’s great working together. We should have done it years ago!”
Coenie and André grow serious for a moment: “We think ours is a positive gig. We don’t bemoan our lot in life, or cry about anything. It’s incredible to discover the spectrum of songs that conveys precisely this affirmative message of live and let live. Not only across the borders of countries, but also spanning the divides between people, cultures and genders. When all is said and done, people remain just that: people.”

Come and celebrate life in word and song with two of South Africa’s foremost entertainers.

The debut presentation of GRENSLOOS took place at a sold-out performance at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria on the 28th of April, during which the audience was carried away. “It was great receiving a standing ovation in the middle of the show,” both musicians laugh.

Both André and Coenie are looking forward to present GRENSLOOS at the magnificent Theatre on The Bay in Cape Town. Both believe it to be one of the most beautiful venues in the country. “And, of course, it’s next to one of the most stunning beaches in the world!

Friday 19 July at 20h00
Saturday 20 July at 20h00
Sunday 21 July at 15h00

At Theatre On The Bay – Camps Bay
Bookings at Computicket or (021) 438-3301

Booking link -> https://tickets.computicket.com/…/andre_schwartz_co…/7097657

 

Last presented on a South African stage in 1985 when Pieter Toerien presented a  production of Peter Shaffer’s play EQUUS directed by Rex Garner, assisted by Robert Whitehead, starring  Joanna Palmer as Hesther Salomon, Darryl Forbes as Dr Martin Dysart and Jeremy Crutchley as Alan Strang.

The production opened at the Alhambra Theatre in #Johannesburg on August 10th and also starred Shelagh Holliday, Norman Coombes, Merle Lifson, Christine Le Brocq, Drummond Marais, Michael Blaise and Paul Stuart Buckby

It garnered, like the piece has all over the world, high praise from critics and audiences alike. A gripping, dark tale that delves into the darkest recesses of human existence. EQUUS is a timeless classic and has become a cornerstone of contemporary drama.

The new production of Equus, directed by Fred Abrahamse and starring Graham Hopkins and Sven Ruygrok runs at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theater in Johannesburg from 26 April – 26 May

Designs by Marcel Meyer, original compositions by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, movement by Marc Goldberg with Cassandra-Tendai Mapanda, Andrew Roux, Maggie  Gericke, Monique Basson, Len-Barry Simons and Marc Goldberg.

EQUUS contains nudity and other mature content and is therefore not suitable for children.

Bookings are with COMPUTICKET or the BOOK NOW button at the top right of this page.

Incidentally, a ticket to see Matilda The Musical is the ideal way to make someone’s Christmas perfect, just saying…

Matilda The Musical runs at @Artscape from 11 December to 13 January

Tickets available from https://online.computicket.com/web/event/matilda_the_musical/1211508460/0/86637937 

Pieter Toerien presents, by unprecedented public demand, 

the final victory lap tour of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG!

This hilarious comedy returns to

Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 7 December – 6 January, 2019

Directed by Alan Committie

 The crazy cast of eight features Daniel Janks, Nicole Franco, Sive Gubangxa, Louis Viljoen, Craig Jackson, Roberto Pombo and Russel Savadier and welcoming Antony Coleman to the mad-house!

 …plus the industry’s bravest stage crew, all aiming to keep the curtain up no matter what happens on the custom-made R500 000.00 set designed by Nigel Hook.

The plot revolves around an accident prone and completely inept Drama Society who receives an unexpected financial legacy.

The amateur group decides to put the windfall to good use. But when they attempt to put on a complicated 1920s murder mystery play, all hell breaks loose.

Everything that can possibly go wrong does, to hilarious effect, and audiences find the resulting chaos so funny that the entire theatre ends up in complete, total, happy disarray, night after night.

 Excellent comedy timing, expert verbal and physical funnies, it’s one of the best comedies to hit the stage for some time.  

 What the press have said: 

“The Play That Goes Wrong is hilariously bonkers, but be warned, rather than just tickling your funny bone, you might actually be at risk of fracturing it. Thank goodness for the armrests, probably the only thing that prevented certain audience members from actually rolling in the aisles. “ – What’s On In Jo’burg

“It’s all about good actors acting badly to make a good show. More than good – bloody brilliant. Do yourself a favour and catch this one. Like me, you may be bowled over …” – Weekend Special

 “I’d watch this lovely lunacy in again in an instant” –  Daily Maverick

The Play That Goes Wrong is an excellent example of how top-notch directing, acting, lighting, costuming, music and sets can keep an audience laughing for two hours” – The Cape Times

Tickets available from https://online.computicket.com/web/event/the_play_that_goes_wrong/1250343226/0/89265352

 R100 – R240 in Johannesburg

Group bookings:

geraldine@montetheatre.co.za / (011) 511-1988

Take a moment to meet our three young actresses who get to play the converted role of Matilda.

Kitty, Lilla and Morgan spent some time with Bethany Dickson who plays Miss Honey and Mpume Mayiyane who plays Mrs Phelps at the Montecasino Bird Park in Johannesburg.

Matilda – The Musical is now playing at the Teatro at Montecasino, in Johannesburg until 2 December and then the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town from 11 December until 13 January.

Bookings at https://online.computicket.com/web/event/matilda_the_musical/1211508460/0/0

Pieter Toerien Productions and GWB Entertainment present The Royal Shakespeare Company Production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda – The Musical.

www.pietertoerien.co.za
www.gwbentertainment.com

Meet actor Kai Brummer who plays Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, reopening Theatre On The Bay 25 September
Directed by Paul Wawick Griffin

Book now at Computicket or www.pietertoerien.co.za/online-bookings

Pieter Toerien Presents

The South African Original Premiere of

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Based on the novel by Mark Haddon

Adapted by Simon Stephens

Directed by Paul Warwick-Griffin (Jesus Christ Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, Hair, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, Chess, High School Musical)

Scenic & Costumes by Tina Driedijk (Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Show)

Lighting Design by Gareth Hewitt Williams (Evita, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat)

Original Music Compositions & Soundscapes by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (The Rocky Horror Show, King Kong, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, High School Musical)

Starring Kai Brummer, Ashley Dowds, Jenny Stead, Lesoko Seabe, Kate Normington, Liz Szymczak, Dylan Edy, Nicholas Ellenbogen, Genna Galloway and Clayton Evertson.

 Cast (In order of appearance)

Christopher Boone – Kai Brummer

Kate Normington – Mrs Shears/ Mrs Gascoyne/Voice One/ Woman On Train/Woman On Heath/ Shopkeeper

Lesoko Seabe – Siobhan/ Ensemble

Dylan Edy – Policeman One/ Voice Two/ Mr Thompson/ Rhodri/ Man Behind /Roger Man/ Drunk Two/Shopkeeper

Nicholas Ellenbogen – Duty Sergeant/ Voice Three/ Mr Wise/ Uncle Terry/ Drunk One/ London Trans Policeman/ Man On Phone

Ashley Dowds – Ed/ Ensemble

Clayton Evertson – Reverend Peters/ Voice Four/ Station Policeman/ Station Guard/ Ensemble

Genna Galloway – No.40/ Voice Five/ Lady In Street/ Information/ Punk Girl/ Ensemble

Liz Szymczak – Mrs Alexander/ Posh Woman/ Voice Six

Jenny Stead – Judy Boone

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time will be performed with one intermission.

South African Tour Dates:

September 22 – November 3, 2018 at Theatre On The Bay, Cape Town, South Africa (Ticket prices: R140 – R240)

November 7 – December 2, 2018 at Pieter Toerien’s Montescasino Theatre (Ticket prices: R100 – R240)

Bookings through Computicket.com

 

BOOK HERE:

https://online.computicket.com/web/event/the_curious_incident_of_the_dog_in_the_night_time/1236600329

 

Or Theatre On The Bay Box-office (021) 438-3301

Or Pieter Toerien’s Montescasino Theatre Box-office (011) 511-1988

 www.pietertoerien.co.za

FB:  www.facebook.com/PieterToerienProductions

IG: www.instagram.com/PieterToerienProductions

Twitter: www.twitter.com/PieterToerien 

PRODUCTION NOTES: 

The story takes place around April 1998. The biggest part of the story takes place in Swindon, other parts take place in London and between London and Swindon.

The social background that is presented in the story is pretty average. They live in a normal house and his father is a heating engineer.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is an Olivier Award and Tony Award winning best play by Simon Stephens based on the novel of the same name by Mark Haddon.

The story revolves around a mystery surrounding the death of a neighbour’s dog (Wellington) that is investigated by young Christopher Boone and his relationships with his parents and school mentor.

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, is based on a 2003 mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon.

Haddon and The Curious Incident won the Whitbread Book Award for best novel and book of the year, the Commonwealth Writers’ prize for best first book, and the Guardian Children’s fiction prize.

Unusually, it was published simultaneously in separate editions for adults and children.

The novel is narrated in the first-person perspective by Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties” living in Swindon, Wiltshire. Although Christopher’s condition is not stated, the book’s blurb refers to Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome. The play reworked the source material by changing its voice and presenting the story as a play-within-a-play.

In July 2009, Haddon wrote on his blog that “Curious Incident” is not a book about Asperger’s. It is a story about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. The story is not specifically about any specific disorder”.

Mark Haddon (Book)

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time was published in 2003. It was the winner of more than 17 literary awards, including prizes in Japan, Holland, and Italy, and was translated into 44 languages. A Spot Of Bother, published in 2006, was also an international bestseller.

The Donmar Warehouse produced Mark Haddon’s first work for the theatre, Polar Bears, in 2010. He has written 15 books for children, published a first collection of poetry in 2005, and is an illustrator and award-winning screenwriter.

Simon Stephens (Playwright)

Simon Stephens’ plays have been produced in many languages throughout the world. His plays Harper Regan and Bluebird were staged in New York at the Atlantic Theater Company.

His play Punk Rock was staged by MCC. His version of A Doll’s House for The Young Vic transferred to New York in 2014.

His adaptation of Mark Maddon’s novel The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time ran for two years on Broadway and won the Tony Award for best new play in 2015. The West End production of his play ran until June 2017 and garnered seven Olivier Awards, including best new play.

His play Heisenberg was produced by MTC. Simon is an associate at the Lyric, Hammersmith and the Royal Court, London.

Paul Warwick Griffin (Director)

With an international career spanning some twenty years, Paul has an extensive list of credits in just about every aspect of the theatrical arena from actor to director and producer.

Paul has directed the hugely successful South African and New Zealand tours of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatJesus Christ Superstar, as well as Stepping Out – The Musical and Hair – The Love Rock Musical. His production of Jesus Christ Superstar has toured to Greece and South Korea (Seoul and Busan). For over 4 years, Paul was the associate director for the world tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats traveling with the production to Beirut, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Doha, Taipei, Beijing, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Oslo and Athens.

Paul’s directing credits include Sunset Boulevard, Chess (which he also adapted with Sir Tim Rice), Evita and Disney’s High School Musical – Live On Stage in South Africa, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. He was also a panelist for the reality TV show High School Musical – Spotlight South Africa. Paul lives in London where his West End credits include resident director at the prestigious Old Vic theatre for Sean Mathias’ production of Aladdin, associate director for the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s production of Waiting for Godot starring Sir Ian Mckellen and Sir Patrick Stewart and associate director to Matthew Warchus for Ghost – The Musical for the West End, U.K tour, U.S tour and South Korea, and the award-winning London and Broadway productions of Groundhog Day – The Musical.

Paul is a partner in GWB Entertainment and will be collaborating this year with Pieter Toerien Productions on the smash hit production of Matilda –The Musical which opens at Johannesburg’s Teatro at Montecasino in October before transferring to Artscape’s Opera theater in December.

Charl Johan Lingenfelder (Composer)

Charl-Johan Lingenfelder is an award-winning South African performer, composer and well-known musical director who is also known as the creator of highly innovative and controversial theatrical shows. He has worked in Paris, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Athens, New Zealand, China, Taiwan and Indonesia as composer, musical director, arranger, conductor, writer and performer.

Charl has been musical director on more than 25 musicals, such as The Rocky Horror Show, Cabaret, Jesus Christ Superstar, Funny Girl, King Kong, Evita, Hair, Sunset Boulevard, Orpheus In Africa, West Side Story And Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat for which he has received a Naledi award nomination (the production subsequently toured to Athens and Korea in 2007).

As an actor he has twice played the Emcee in Cabaret 1995 and 2015.

He is the co-writer and composer of the feature film Kanarie, which premiered at Outfest in Los Angeles in July and will premiere in South Africa in October this year. The film won the award for best feature film at Kyknet Silwerskerm Fees in August 2018.

Fatal Attraction stands as one of the most popular films of all time. The 1987 thriller established Glenn Close as a Hollywood force to be reckoned with. When the film was released, the term “bunny boiler” became an informal noun that was associated with women who acted vengefully after being spurned by their lover. The film stood as an ominous warning for every wandering eye, but the script really holds more to it than that.

Beginning life as a half hour play on BBC to becoming the Oscar nominated film and now a razor sharp stage production at Pieter Toerien’s Theatre On The Bay in Cape Town, s.

The journey to get Fatal Attraction on stage began some 20 years ago when actor and producer Patrick Ryecart watched the film on late night television and noticed that the script would “make a terrific play, with all the basic elements of good, exciting theatre”. Patrick has recently appeared in Noël Coward’s Present Laughter at Theatre On The Bay.

ABOVE: Opening night of Fatal Attraction at Theatre On The Bay, 20 March, 2018.

BACK (L-R): Robert Fox (London Producer), Paula Bangels (Director), James Dearden (Writer) and Annabel Brooks. 

FRONT: Patrick Ryecart. (Photo by Dean Roberts)

DR: Patrick, you mentioned your interest in the hubris of Dan, the main protagonist. You say that much like a Greek tragedy, Dan Gallagher was a flawed character; a man in his prime which displayed excessive signs of self-importance, pride and vanity. This was after all the 1980s, the era of the go-getter, where ambition particularly amongst men typified the values of an increasingly materialistic decade.

PR: Dan had certainly realised his ego to its full potential by the time we meet him. We see his pride; we see a sense of being bulletproof. The fact that Dan had it all only stands to heighten the stakes when he’s faced with losing it all. This in turn drives the drama. As an actor I can see the interest, from both sides, actor and audience. I believed that this story, with all its tension and drama built into the story, developed characters could and should be adapted for the stage. The film version brought a broad and multi-layered look at the story, with various locations all plumping up the experience. I was interested in pairing down the context elements for the stage, focusing on the characters, their relationships and the plays universal themes. James Dearden really created characters that belong in this story.

DR: I imagine that Hollywood screenwriters are buried deep below publishing agents and publicists, how did you manage to meet with James Dearden?

PR: I know James and so called him up and set up a meeting. We met for a tea in Oxford to discuss what had come and gone and what could still be done. Our shared interests in the deeper story were very much identical and James was clearly interested in how the drama could be presented on stage. Our meeting last a few hours. I found in James a man who was a gifted storyteller but also a great ally in collaboration. We ended off by agreeing to get the ball rolling. We called Robert Fox who is one of London’s most prolific producers and asked him if he could help us in attaining the stage rights. Robert has produced some of the most important plays on the West End in recent times, couple this with his equally extensive film career (The Hours, Notes on a Scandal, Iris) and he agreed to help and also co-produce.

DR: How did you get the Hollywood studio to buy in to your plans for a stage revival of the story?

PR: A string of meetings ended with 20th Century Fox agreeing to award the rights, with a keen eye on all parties involved. James began writing the play script. I think that must be an extraordinary process of being able to revisit your work decades later with the main focus of resuscitating it and having that opportunity to fix things, little niggles, that may have existed for years. The Haymarket theatre offered to co-produce, with “Cats” director Trevor Nunn to direct. Trevor’s production was lavish and would become the first stop in the projects full transformation to stage. His production was very well received and ran for 25 weeks. We could see sense though that even with the thick realistic veneer to the staging the drama could be heightened and the pace improved. One of the most valuable things to come from that production was the emergence of a more human female protagonist, which was never really realised in the film. Perhaps this was the result of James revisiting the script after many years.

DR: I hear there is a very exciting arts movement buzzing within Belgium and Holland right now.

PR: There really is. James and I went to Holland to meet the play’s Belgian director Paula Bangels. I was riveted by what Paula had created and fascinated by the dynamic that she had fostered within her cast. The cohesion of the actors supported the story so powerfully that production leaped away from all the expectations associated with the film. This was now something that was perfectly distilled and highly focused. In the film version the studio wanted a blockbuster ending, with a pure villain in Glenn Close’s character. The ending was reshot with that as the endgame. The final product left Glenn very unhappy. This ending was not James’ choice – the stage revival was his opportunity to give the story the ending he always wanted.

PB: I believed in the universal themes in James’ script and wanted audiences to watch the action and judge the characters from their own perspective. This is a story that could have occurred. These things do happen. I hated the final ending to the film. Hollywood wanted a villain that would give the story a more palpable climax. I wanted to bring the surrounding characters into the fold a bit more. It had to be down to the casting of the play to make it truly and believably work. I selected the actors that I believed and that I knew could go to places that they had never been to but could still be believable. As a director and even as someone who watches theatre I crave nuances and detail in performance. When we started rehearsing the play here in Cape town I didn’t allow the cast to look at the words for over a week. We would spend hours in a controlled rehearsal space work shopping moments and improvising scenes and potential character scenarios. The moments that transpired are magical, brave and raw. I believe in exploring and incorporating the actor’s instincts into the story making, I want them to tell the story from the gut, to own the piece.

DR: Paula, I believe that you approached the staging and direction from your own angle, choosing to disregard much of the script’s stage directions.

PB: I have always been willing to exchange verbal for nonverbal. It goes back to valuing genuine nuances. I wanted to remove a lot of the clutter around the main story and really push the facts, the facts that are real to these characters as they are living them. The staging is the perfect example of what I mean. One set with a million mood options, with lighting and soundscapes the story really soars. The play is in a lineal plotline and I get to place the characters in a tank of water and slowly turn up the heat. Atmosphere is very important in doing this. Within the scarcity of the set the most extraordinary things occur. I rely on music to ‘turn the screw’, really up the pressure. It is after all a thriller. But don’t expect a bunny boiling on the stove. This is definitely not he film. This is more about passion and how with passion some things cannot be ignored. This is about wanting to not be ignored, basic human emotions. Everyone wants to be seen and to be validated. I really want to present the characters in an equal light and let the audiences form their own verdict of what they see. I want them to decide for themselves on who’s to blame, can blame be assigned and what is the price to be paid.

In an age where truth is sought out more than ever in a landscape dominated by fake news and subjective personal opinion, it bodes well that Fatal Attraction has sprung from a desire to humanise the characters and tell the stories that exist within the script in a universal way. Today’s audience rail against falsities and it seems that the creative forces behind the stage adaption know this and feel the same way.

ABOVE: Opening night of Fatal Attraction at Theatre On The Bay, 20 March, 2018.

(L-R): Jazzara Jaslyn, Ashley Dowds, Paula Bangels (Director), Jenny Stead, Jo da Silva and Alex Tops. (Photo by Dean Roberts)

The much anticipated South African debut of this stage production is produced by Pieter Toerien and stars Ashley Dowds as Dan Gallagher and Jazzara Jaslyn as Alex Forrester. The play also features a powerful cast of performers with Jenny Stead, Alex Tops and Jo Da Silva portraying the core characters.

Opening night of Fatal Attraction at Theatre On The Bay, 20 March, 2018.

(L-R): Pieter Toerien, Paula Bangels and Ashley Dowds. (Photo by Dean Roberts)

DR: Ashley Dowds, has this rehearsal process challenged you in any specific way?

AD: Without a doubt! It has cut across the grain of the ‘classical table read’ to start with before ‘getting the story onto its feet’. Is this perhaps a very European alternative? I’m not sure, because it is the first time that I am working with a director from Europe – but what I can say is that Paula’s conviction to work from the emotionality of the story right from the onset has been shocking. Shocking in a very affirming way. It has shaken up the order of things and that doesn’t always feel ‘comfortable’. That has become the important for the way that this story is told on stage. It won’t be comfortable for the audience to watch either – it has some very familiar scenarios (maybe too familiar for some) – but it will be presented in a way that will not rely on familiar comforts. There is no time to breathe!

Fatal Attraction runs at Theatre On The Bay until 7 April, before transferring to Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from 11 April – 6 May. Tickets range from R120 – R200 in Cape Town and R100 – R200 in Johannesburg.

The production carries an age restriction of PG16 with the show depicting strong adult themes, sex and language.

Dean Roberts