SHORT SYNOPSIS

Triple Fringe First-winner Andrew Buckland stars as Paul, husband to Sara (performed by Jennifer Steyn), who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She is compulsive, alive and hates women who know how to make cupcakes. Paul is on a mission to find a cure for her afflictions and befriends and consults with Professor James (played by Mncedisi Shabangu) who quietly tries to save him from the inconvenience of his wings.

Leading South African writer and director Lara Foot’s latest play is a powerful and poignant drama about friendship, dysfunction, addiction and angels. It makes for compelling viewing with burning contemporary themes such as bi-polar disorder and compulsion and its devastating effect on the family. Set in a landscape of memory and dreams this play cuts close to the bone for anyone who has suffered mental illness themselves, or has lived with someone who is afflicted. Earlier this year it won the prestigious 2017 Fleur du Cap Best director, actor and actress awards.

PRESS RELEASE

Since its premiere in 2016 Lara Foot’s award-winning latest play, The Inconvenience of Wings, has received sold-out success in South Africa at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and the Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

In 2017 the play received the coveted Fleur du Cap awards for Best Director (Foot), Best Actor (Andrew Buckland) and Best Actress (Jennifer Steyn).

Foot, the 2016 National Arts Festival Featured Artist and a former Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre winner, has assembled a stellar cast and creative team comprising Jennifer Steyn, Andrew Buckland and Mncedisi Shabangu.

Set in a landscape of memory and dreams, The Inconvenience of Wings, tackles the issues of friendship, dysfunction, addiction and angels. Sara (Steyn) has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; she is compulsive, alive and hates women who know how to make cupcakes. Paul (Buckland), her husband, is on a mission to find a cure for her afflictions and Professor James (Shabangu) quietly tries to save Paul from the inconvenience of his wings.

The play is, at its heart, a love story, which make for compelling viewing with burning contemporary themes such as bi-polar disorder and compulsion and its devastating effect on the family. It cuts close to the bone for anyone who has suffered mental illness themselves, or has lived with someone who is afflicted.

The media and audiences raved about the production. John Maytham from Cape Talk gave it a glowing thumbs up, saying, “If there is a better piece of theatre at the Festival, please lead me to it … It is a piece that no serious theatre lover should miss … Be there, and tot up the number of awards for which it will be nominated, most of which it will win. It’s that good.” Steve Kretzmann from Critter was equally encouraging referring to it as “… masterful direction” and “… the casts’ acutely magnificent performance … an engrossing, consummate performance… ”

Further praise came from Tony Jackman for the Daily Maverick who said, “Again, I take my hat off to Foot. She gets it, she truly, deeply, gets it across in this most excellent play … once you get into the meat of the story it grips you and takes you all the way.” Mariana Malan from Die Burger called it “… amazing theatre” and Dylan Stewart for Cue Media wrote, “This world premiere is another badge of honour for Foot. It confirms her reputation as a gifted playwright who makes unapologetic theatre with global import.”

This powerful and poignant new drama was inspired by author Abraham J Twerski`s book Addictive Thinking that examines the notion of compulsion, addiction, denial and abuse of self as well as conversations on bipolar disorder that Foot had with celebrated psychiatrist Dr Sean Baumann. It was further stirred by her father who has suffered from dementia for more than a decade.

Lara is the CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre and a former Rolex protégé to Sir Peter Hall in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She has become known and respected for her own hard-hitting plays, which sensitively and creatively, tackle social issues in South Africa and for which she has won several awards.

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

The Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town, in association with Assembly Festival and Riverside Studios, present

THE INCONVENIENCE OF WINGS

Written and directed by: Lara Foot

Cast:

  • Sara Jennifer Steyn
  • Paul Andrew Buckland
  • Professor James Mncedisi Shabangu

Set designer: Patrick Curtis

Lighting designer: Mannie Manim

Composer/ sound designer: Philip Miller

Choreographer: Grant van Ster

Costume designer: Birrie le Roux

Dialogue coach: Lesley Nott Manim

Scene titles designer: Sanjin Muftic

First performed at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

Duration: 80 minutes, no interval

Age restriction: 16 (Nudity, Language)

WHAT THE EDINBURGH MEDIA SAID

***** “a beautifully modulated work … should not be missed” – British Theatre Guide

 

***** “Jennifer Steyn … delivers an unforgettable performance” – British Theatre Guide

 

***** “magnificent piece of work” – Edinburgh Guide

 

*****“Through the virtuosity of the writer and the mastery of the performers, this production cannot go unwatched … Steyn, Buckland and Shabangu are breathtaking.” – Edinburgh Guide

 

***** “Anyone who has any connection with the above affairs will feel a strong affiliation to this magnificent piece of work.” – Edinburgh Guide

 

**** “… Steyn’s performance must be one of the finest of The Fringe, offering tremendous, desperate insight into the toll mental illness takes not only on its victims, but also on those who love them and whom they love in return.’ – The Scotsman

 

**** “utterly involving piece.” – The Wee Review

 

**** “it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving the auditorium without some strings of emotion, such is the impact and import of this piece.” – The Wee Review

 

“It’s no surprise that the play earned the triple gongs of Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the 2017 Fleur du Cap theatre awards”

 

**** “Taking a fearless look at mental illness.” – Ed Fest Magazine

 

**** “Lara Foot has created a powerful narrative that is honest in its portrayal yet creative in its approach, making for excellent storytelling” – Ed Fest Magazine

 

**** “This story is incredibly significant for those who have or know someone who suffers from mental illness.” Ed Fest Magazine

 

**** Writer and director, Lara Foot has created a powerful narrative that is honest in its portrayal yet creative in its approach, making for excellent storytelling.” Ed Fest Magazine

 

WHAT THE SOUTH AFRICAN MEDIA HAVE SAID

If there is a better piece of theatre at the Festival, please lead me to it … It is a piece that no serious theatre lover should miss … Be there, and tot up the number of awards for which it will be nominated, most of which it will win. It’s that good.” – John Maytham, Cape Talk

 

Writer-director Lara Foot’s The Inconvenience of Wings is a mature master work whose literary heft and dramatic gravitas places her in the same league as contemporary South African dramatists the calibre of Athol Fugard, Paul Slabolepszy and Mike van Graan.

 

In the early 21st Century this window into dementia and bi-polar disorder, embedded in the tragi-comedy of life, realised with conceptual clarity and perceptive veracity, has a universal resonance and relevance. As important as this challenging text is it would be difficult to imagine this delicately directed, finely written, anatomy of the human condition brought to life – totally embodied – without the visceral physicality, naked emotional honesty and searing integrity of Andrew Buckland as Paul, Jennifer Steyn as his wife Sarah and Mncedisi Shabangu’s authoritative Prof James, the psychiatrist.  – Adrienne Sichel The Ar(t) chive , Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg

 

“… masterful direction … the casts’ acutely magnificent performance … the actors who provided an engrossing, consumate performance… ” – Steve Kretzmann, Critter

 

“… a precious, honest, witty, well-informed, raw, pure piece of South African theatre.” – Thola Antanamu, WhatsoninCapeTown

 

“The Inconvenience of Wings a Triumph for Lara Foot … sophisticated and literate … richly textured …” – David Fick, broadwayworld.com

 

“Jennifer Steyn, Andrew Buckland and Mncedisi Shabangu all deliver meaningful work in this production under the playwright’s own skilfully shaped direction of this piece.” – David Fick, broadwayworld.com

 

“This play belies its genre with moments of symbolism and seduce us to contemplate situations and emotions from which many of us are thankfully removed, the intricacy and delicacy of which is strengthened to invulnerable proportions thanks to the vitality of its portrayal.” – Steve Kretzmann, Critter

 

“… together with Karoo Moose and Tshepang, The Inconvenience of Wings will take pride of place alongside these iconic works in the definitive local theatrical canon …” Tracey Saunders, Cape Times

 

“A discordant note I could not discern in this play, the realism of which was echoed in the craftsmanship of the appropriately raked box set that placed all the action in an interior setting which none of the characters ever exited. The way this is played out is a further masterstroke of direction, the character absent from dialogue fading into the dark grey walls, the colour of which further emphasised the oppression of the monotonous landscape of emotion Sara was expected to accept being forced into.” – Steve Kretzmann, Critter

 

“This world premiere is another badge of honour for Foot. It confirms her reputation as a gifted playwright who makes unapologetic theatre with global import.” – Dylan Stewart, Cue Media

 

“Again, I take my hat off to Foot. She gets it, she truly, deeply, gets it across in this most excellent play … once you get into the meat of the story it grips you and takes you all the way.” – Tony Jackman, Daily Maverick

 

“… amazing theatre” – Mariana Malan, Die Burger

 

“To watch the breakdown is not easy. The saving factor is there is also tenderness, humour and something that borders on inspiration that unfolds before your eyes. – Mariana Malan, Die Burger

 

“The Inconvenience of Wings keeps you well-grounded by hypnotically luring you into an almost meditative state as you experience the characters take flight…” – Barbara Loots, Scene It

 

“Foot has woven together an emotive, beautifully delicate production …”- Barbara Loots, Scene It

 

“It’s a powerful, fascinating and frightening play that stuns in both senses of the word.” – Lesley Stones, Artslink

 

LARA FOOT BIOGRAPHY

Lara Foot is a multi-award-winning playwright, director and producer. She is the CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town; a former Rolex protégé to Sir Peter Hall in the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé programme as well as a Sundance Fellow.

She is also executive producer of (amongst others), the hit productions Mies Julie and The Fall which have both received international acclaim.

Lara completed her BA (Hons) degree at Wits University in 1989 and in 2007 attained her Master’s degree at the University of Cape Town. In 2005 she became the Resident Director and Dramaturge at the Baxter Theatre Centre – a post which she held until 2007. In January 2010 she became the first female to be appointed as CEO and Artistic Director of the Baxter.

With a passion for the development of new indigenous work, young writers and directors, she has put most of her energy into helping playwrights and theatre-makers realise their work, having nurtured several dozen new South African plays to their first staging. She has directed over 50 professional productions, 38 of which have been new South African plays.

Since heading up the Baxter Theatre Centre she has, together with a dynamic team, transformed the theatre’s development programme – the Zabalaza Theatre Festival – to become recognised and respected as one of the most vital and important platforms of its kind in South Africa. As a former Rolex protégé, she hosted a unique cultural gathering at the Baxter with renowned Mentors William Kentridge, Wole Soyinka and Peter Sellars, alongside seven protégés.

Lara worked at The Market Theatre under the mentorship of Barney Simon and in 1996 became Resident Director and from 1998 to 2000 she was the Associate Artistic Director. She wrote and co-directed (with Gerhard Marx) the interdisciplinary short film And There in the Dust, which won five international awards and two Golden Horn awards and was selected to be part of the Sundance Film Writer’s Lab in 2007 and the Sundance Film Director’s Lab in 2008.

In 2016 she was the Featured Artist at the 43rd National Arts Festival, leading the charge on the Main programme which is made up of 80% of work written, directed, curated or headlined by women. This, two decades after she was selected as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Drama.

With a host of South African theatre accolades to her name, her own hard-hitting plays tackle social issues in South Africa and these have earned her great respect and recognition locally and internationally.

Tshepang, Hear And Now, Reach, Karoo Moose, Solomon and Marion (all published by Oberon Books), Fishers of Hope and The Inconvenience of Wings are just a few of her plays which have won multiple awards and that have toured internationally with great success.

Fishers of Hope scooped four awards at the Naledi Theatre Awards in Johannesburg, including the coveted Best Production of a Play accolade. Earlier this year her latest play, The Inconvenience of Wings, earned her the Best Director honour, along with the Best Actress (Jenifer Steyn) and Best Actor (Andrew Buckland) nods at the 2017 Fleur du Cap awards. She also clinched three awards (Best Director, Best Production of a Play and Best Actress (Chuma Sopotela), for her play Karoo Moose at the 2017 Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (the largest Afrikaans Festival in South Africa.

In August 2017 she achieved the rare distinction of taking six Baxter Theatre Centre productions to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as executive producer of the season in a programme which included three of her own productions.