The Fugard Theatre presents the world premiere of double Fleur du Cap writer award winner Louis Viljoen’s The Eulogists. Viljoen is the Fugard Theatre’s Writer in Residence and The Eulogists excitingly marks his first offering in this position.
The world media has descended on a small town to wait for a great statesman to die. Audrey, a flash-in-the-pan author who once had access to the leader and profited from it, has holed herself up in a room around the corner from the dying man’s family home. Zee is an ambitious researcher who dreams of breaking an exclusive story about the leader’s past and shares a room with Audrey and cabin fever has begun to set in.
Thrown into this volatile situation is Harris, a correspondent for an American radio station who brings with him a few bottles of wine and a plan to end the boredom. Each of these three people have their own reasons for being stuck in this town and as the truth emerges, the inevitability of losing a person who represents hope becomes an unbearable burden.
Viljoen partners with his long-time collaborator Greg Karvellas (Clybourne Park, The Father, Bad Jews) as director, reuniting the tour-de-force team that have created acclaimed productions such as CHAMP and The Frontiersmen. The Fugard Theatre audiences have had the chance to see previous plays by Viljoen, including CHAMP, and the multiple Fleur du Cap award-winning The Kingmakers and The Pervert Laura.
The cast includes Emily Child (The Pervert Laura; The Emissary,A Certain Lady) as Audrey, Pierre Malherbe (The Kingmakers, Sexual Perversity in Chicago) as Harris and 2016 Fleur du Cap winner for Most Promising Student Kiroshan Naidoo (Anthology, Fabulous Nothing) as Zee.
The creative team for The Eulogists includes Set Design by Rocco Pool (The Father, Associate Designer for The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek), Costume Design by Widaad Albertus (Wardrobe Supervisor District Six- Kanala, The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek) and Lighting Design by Kieran McGregor (The Father).
“We are delighted to be staging the much-anticipated premiere of Louis Viljoen’s latest play as part of our Writer in Residence programme,” says Daniel Galloway, Executive Director of the Fugard Theatre. “In addition to presenting world-class South African productions of existing musical theatre and plays, we are committed to providing a platform for new voices to flourish. The Writer in Residence Programme offers the writer a series of guaranteed commissions and production of his or her work on the Fugard Studio Theatre stage.
“Louis has consistently illustrated through his work his razor-sharp observation skills and no-holds barred exploration of political, social and human themes, with dark, deviant characters that we both love and loathe. He is one of the most compelling new South African playwrights and we look forward to staging a number of his plays in the forthcoming years.”
Viljoen has written and produced numerous plays including, The Bile Boys, The Frontiersmen, The Verbalists, Champ, Porno 88, The Kingmakers, The Pervert Laura, Oh Baby, I’m A Wild One and The Emissary. He is one of the creators (along with playwrights Nicholas Spagnoletti and Jon Keevy) of the successful short-play initiative Anthology which has had four successful seasons at The Alexander Bar’s Upstairs Theatre. Viljoen has won Fleur Du Cap Theatre awards (Best New South African Script) for CHAMP (2013) and The Kingmakers (2015). He was the recipient of the Rosalie van Der Gucht Best New Director award for his plays, The Kingmakers and The Pervert Laura.
The Eulogists has a recommended age restriction of 16 – use of strong language and scenes of a sexual nature.
Over half a century since the original production, the Fugard Theatre’s forthcoming, brand new production of the legendary South African musical - King Kong - is fully cast and rehearsals commence on Monday 12 June.
Eric Abraham produces and presents this Fugard Theatre production, which runs from 25 July to 2 September 2017 at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town and then at the Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg from 12 September to 8 October 2017.
King Kong – The Musical tells the story of heavyweight fifties boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini whose self-appointed ring name was "King Kong" to the wildly exhilarating music of Todd Matshikiza.
The 1959 production of South Africa's first black musical was set in Sophiatown in Johannesburg in the late-fifties. King Kong toured South Africa, and was seen by 200,000 South Africans, playing to record-breaking and multi-racial audiences - as apartheid was being implemented -before transferring in February 1961 to London’s West End for a 200-performance run. King Kong launched the international careers of Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela among many others.
“We are thrilled that this long awaited production of this iconic and first South African musical of King Kong, is a Fugard Theatre production which will showcase the very best of South African talent,” says Daniel Galloway the Executive Director of the Fugard Theatre. “The original production united audiences of all colours, launched careers and put South African talent firmly on the international map. We are excited to be re-creating the world of the "Back of the Moon" shebeen with an all South African cast and superb creative team. While remaining true to the original production our Fugard Theatre King Kong will refresh the musical for the 21st Century".
The Fugard Theatre’s King Kong is directed by Jonathan Munby who directed the Fugard Theatre's production of A Human Being Died That Night with Noma Dumezweni (the only double Olivier award-winning Southern African actor) amongst many other international productions. Following King Kong Munby directs Sir Ian McKellen in Shakespeare's King Lear for the Chichester Festival in the UK.
The revised book (with additional lyrics) is by Academy award nominated screenwriter and playwright William Nicholson (Shadowlands, Gladiator, Les Miserables, Sarafina, Long Walk to Freedom). South African choreographer star and recent French Legion D’Honneur recipient Gregory Maqoma will choreograph King Kong to the irresistible original music of the late great South African composer Todd Matshikiza.
The Fugard Theatre’s production sees musical direction by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (West Side Story, Funny Girl, Cabaret) and Sipumzo Lucwaba with arrangements and additional music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder.
Set design is by Paul Wills (A Human Being Died that Night, Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet, West End - Wyndham's Theatre - David Mamet's American Buffalo); Costume design by Birrie le Roux (West Side Story, Orpheus in Africa, District Six: Kanala); Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell (A Human Being Died That Night; Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear with Antony Sher - Associate artist RSC/Chichester Festival Theatre) and Sound Design by Mark Malherbe (West Side Story, Funny Girl). The associate director is Mdu Kweyama.
Cast in the title role of King Kong is South African star - actor, singer and dancer Andile Gumbi. Gumbi made his Broadway debut as Simba in Disney’s The Lion King and has starred in productions of this musical in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai and South Africa. Gumbi, who was voted by The Sowetan as one of Mzansi's Sexiest Top 12 celebs in 2015, is the character Zweli in the Mzansi Magic soap opera isiBaya, which was voted most popular TV soap at the 2017 SAFTA Awards.
Multiple award-winning actress and singer-songwriter Nondumiso Tembe will be recreating the role of Joyce, which propelled Miriam Makeba to international fame in the original production of King Kong. Tembe's extensive list of credits include HBO’s Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning True Blood, SABC’s Generations, the military drama SIX on the History Channel and Zulu Wedding opposite Darrin Dewitt Henson. She won the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Naledi Theatre Award in 2014 for her portrayal of Susan in David Mamet’s RACE, which toured South Africa, and to the Edinburgh Festival. Her debut album Izwi Lami - My Voice received much acclaim including a Metro FM Music Award for Best Music Video.
The Fugard Theatre's King Kong cast includes: Sanda Shandu as Lucky(Orpheus in Africa); Tshamano Sebe as Jack (Athol Fugard's Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek; Master Harold and the Boys; Noem my Skollie); Ntambo Rapatla as Miriam (Menopause the Musical); Sne Dladla as Pop (District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa; Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek); Lerato Mvelase as Petal (Isibaya; Play Me) and Sabelo Radebe as Caswell (West Side Story; Peter Pan) .
Also performing with the ensemble are Joel Zuma (Sophiatown; Kwela Bafana - The Musical); Ben Kgosimore (The Adventures of Oliver Twist; 'I, Oedipus'; Singular Sensation); Athenkozi Mfamela (In The City of Paradise; Bash or Be Bashed); Shalom Zamisa (Voices of Hope; Sarafina); Sibusiso Mxosana (West Side Story; Funny Girl; A Spartacus of Africa); Aphiwe Menziwa (Passage; Inexba Lomphillisi); Namisa Mdlalose (Rent); Siphiwe Nkabinde (Exit/Exist; Music in the Air); Lungelwa Mdekazi (African Angels; Phantom of the Opera); Dolly Louw (Peter Pan; The Boys in the Photograph); Barileng Malibye (Sophiatown; Making Mandela; Dogma; Emotional Creature); Edith Plaatjies (District Six: Kanala; Orpheus in Africa; Blood Brothers); Rushney Ferguson (District Six: Kanala) and Given Mkhize (Sacredspace; In The End is My Beginning).
A live 9-piece band, under the direction of Sipumzo Lucwaba, will accompany the action at every performance.
Born in Vryheid in the then Orange Free State, Ezekiel Dlamini himself became and unwitting symbol for freedom and the wasted power of his people under apartheid. After a meteoric boxing rise Dlamini's life degenerated into drunkenness and gang violence. In 1957Dlamini was to be a classic Greek tragic figure when, in a fit of jealousy, he killed his girlfriend and at his trial asked for the death sentence to serve as a warning to others. Instead, the white judge, refusing to take instruction from a black defendant, sentenced Dlamini to twelve years hard labour. Three months later King Kong was found drowned in a dam on a prison farm. At 36 years old King Kong had taken his destiny into his own hands and, inadvertently, become a legend.
The original production featured music by Todd Matshikiza, lyrics and original book by Pat Williams and book by Harry Bloom. Songs such as Back of the Moon, King Kong and Sad Times, Bad Times, have become popular South African favourites and are firmly entrenched in this country’s musical history. Sales of the original recording achieved unprecedented numbers, with reviews such as “This for my money is the record of the year” (Rand Daily Mail) and ‘Five stars!” (Drum). The cast recording was the first release of an all black production in South Africa and unusual in that the libretti was included with the LP, which normally only happens with opera recordings.Arthur Goldreich designed the sets for the original production with original musical direction by Stanley Glasser.
Some of the extensive rave reviews the original production for King Kong in 1959: "... a big event in theatrical history." Time Magazine (March 03, 1961) "... King Kong triumphs by its bursting, smoking glowing life". Daily Express " … the greatest thrill in 20 years of South African theatre-going"The Star “ … Magnificent…spectacular… a resounding success” Rand Daily Mail “ … the theatrical sensation of the (Union of) South Africa” The New York Times “ … the audience was mixed…and for a short time at least, they held the laws of apartheid was suspended with their applause” The Central African Examiner “ … tears of exultation as I feel that a new era in Non-White entertainment has been born with the production of King Kong.. I became breathless with the splendor of the production…´ Golden City Post “ … there is inspiration here that must mean the beginning of a colourful vigorous theatre in South Africa” Sunday Tribune “ … excellent… I must applaud Todd Matshikiza” Cape Argus
The UK's Portobello Books publishes King Kong lyricist and original book writer Pat Williams' personal memoir of the original musical – Our Knot of Time and Music – to coincide with the Fugard's production. "An extraordinary memoir of the first ever South African musical, which has since acquired mythical proportions. Essential reading for anyone who loves our country - and, of course, its music” Athol Fugard. The book will be available at the Fugard during the run of the show.
King Kong will run at the Fugard Theatre from 25 July until 2 September 2017 before transferring to the Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg from 12 September until 8 October 2017.
The Royal Ballet brings its celebrations of 70 years at the Royal Opera House to a close with a mixed programme of works by its Founder Choreographer Frederick Ashton.
This gorgeous mixed programme demonstrates the great creative vision of Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer of The Royal Ballet. The Dream is Ashton’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s riotous comedy in which a forest sprite plays havoc, armed with a love potion. Symphonic Variations was Ashton’s first work after World War II, and one of the Company’s first to be performed on the huge main stage of the Royal Opera House, in 1946. With six dancers performing a series of quartets, duets, sextets and solos to Franck’s brooding Variations symphoniques, this seminal masterpiece celebrates the pure beauty of movement. Marguerite and Armand is Ashton’s beautiful and emotional retelling of a well-known story, familiar to us through Verdi’s opera La traviata.