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Upcoming Playhouse cultural events: Feb - May 2006

The Playhouse Company has announced details of its arts planning for the first quarter of 2006. These include a season of New Stages, a new season of opera highlights, a new Bollywood-style extravaganza, and visiting productions of the renowned Black Light Theatre Company and the St Petersburg Ballet production of Swan Lake.

Following a month of renovations in the Playhouse theatre complex's foyers and auditoria in January, the Company's annual Schools Education and Development (E and D) season, presented in association with McCarthy Retail, sees three productions for learners in February and March. The season opens with the dance programme Traces, a Playhouse commission from Phenduka Dance Theatre which deals with life issues such as human relationships. It is presented for senior primary school audiences, and plays in the Loft theatre daily from 20 to 24 February and 27 February to 3 March at 10h30. Further performances will be given in and around Durban from the Playhouse/Transnet truck's mobile stage between 23 and 29 March.

The second E and D production of the season is a new dramatisation for high schools of the Zulu setwork novel, Umthathe Uzala Umlotha. Commissioned by the Playhouse Company, this is directed by Thami Sikhosana and will be performed by Action Space Theatre Company. The production is set to run in the Opera theatre from 28 February to 8 March, and all performances are at 11h30. The production then tours Durban and surrounds on the Playhouse Mobile Theatre Stage, with two performances on 9 March, and from 13 to 16 March.

The third E and D production is a new staging of Shakespeare's King Lear, presented by The Actor's Co-Operative in association with the Playhouse Company. Directed by multi-award-winning Durban actress Clare Mortimer, this runs in the Playhouse Drama from 20 February until 24 March with daily performances on weekdays at 09h00 and 12h00. Evening public performances at 19h00 will be held on 24 February, 2 March and 17 March. The cast includes Ron Smerczak (Lear), Belinda Henwood (Cordelia), Clare Mortimer (Goneril), Josette Eals (Regan), Neil Coppen (Edmund), Jacobus van Heerden (Edgar), Adam Dore (Cornwall), Iain Robinson (Albany), Thomie Holtzhausen (Gloucester), Bryan Wallace (Fool), Dean Roberts (Oswald) and Rowan Bartlett (Kent).

The production plays in the Drama theatre from 13 February until 24 March, with daily performances on weekdays at 09h00 and 12h00. Evening public performances of King Lear will be given at 19h00 on 24 February, 2 March and 17 March. King Lear bookings are through Margie Coppen on (031) 266 7892 / 083 251 9412.

March sees the next two-production season of New Stages on the Playhouse Company's roster. This takes place in the Loft, with The Hungry running from 10 to 12 March at 19h30. Performed by Bheki Mkhwane and Ellis Pearson, and featuring jazz maestro Ndikho Xaba, this exciting theatrical journey makes use of physical theatre and innovative musical instruments. Expect a unique and interactive "theatre-in-the-round" experience.

For the following weekend's New Stages presentation, the Playhouse Company presents Episodes of Africa - an exciting staging from Johannesburg directed by Michael Lubisi. It offers a lively cultural celebration, explored through exuberant dance sequences incorporating elements of Isicathamiya, contemporary dance and African ballads, linked with narration. It plays at the Playhouse on 17 and 18 March at 15h00 and 19h30 and on 19 March at 15h00.

Following the success of last year's Bravo, the Playhouse Company's 2006 Bravissimo Opera season showcases four extended operatic extracts drawn from Puccini's masterworks La Boheme and Tosca, Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann and Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier.

This programme will run in the Opera theatre on 25, 28 and 31 March at 19h30, and on 2 April at 15h00. Opera stars scheduled to appear in this season include: sopranos Sally Silver (the former Durban star Sally-June Gaine, now based in London), Linda Bukhosini, Thandulwazi Ncube and Nkosozana Dimande; mezzo soprano Veramarie Meyer; tenors Bongani Tembe and Stefan Louw; and baritones Abel Moeng and Nicholas Ndadane. The showcase production will be directed by Ralph Lawson (making his operatic debut), with costumes by fashion guru Terrence Bray and sets by Irek Karamon. Musical preparation is by Juan Burgers, and Graham Scott will conduct the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. Booked tickets cost R35, R55 and R85. Tickets sold at the box office before performances cost R50, R70 and R100.

Another forthcoming Playhouse attraction is the Indian dance drama Lord Ganesha, which is set to play in the Drama theatre from 29 March until 16 April.

The world-renowned St Petersburg Ballet production of Swan Lake can be seen in the Playhouse Opera theatre from 25 to 30 April and on 2 and 3 May at 19h30 during its forthcoming South African tour.

Programme details are subject to change.

LitNet: 10 February 2005

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