Deur Barbara Loots
In 2016 the KKNK introduced the concept of Uitkampteater to South African festival audiences. The concept is simplistic but very effective: for 20 minutes (at R20 each) you get to see a short performance by between one to three young actors. These shows are usually graduation pieces or works in development, granting the performers the opportunity to test and grow their story and vision with the aid of an audience.
Uitkampteater was so well received in 2016 that it was awarded the Fiesta Blou Stoel bragging rights at this year’s gala event, where it was rightfully praised for providing an innovative platform for up-and-coming artists to hone their craft. One of the last year’s productions, Klara Maas se hart is gebreek, written by Wessel Pretorius and starring Pretorius and David Viviers, even walked off with a Kanna award for the best debut production. That success has led to the show’s 2017 KKNK return as a full-length play.
A visit to the Uitkampteater is in fact a brilliant start to your festival experience providing a good overview of everything from drama, dance, physical theatre and even a bit of puppetry too. The perfect festival snap-shot!
My first sample of this year’s offerings was Tweespalt where you meet two quirky, ever quibbling sisters: the drama queen Marischa (Jazzara Jazlyn) and the people-pleaser Miggie (Klara van Wyk). You witness Marischa’s fruity, colourful and humorous ‘amdram’ show, using a “hybrid of genres” as per their own explanation to the audience. With their running commentary constantly breaking the fourth wall you do become part of the story. However, the show’s structure does not push the level of audience participation to a feeling of discomfort.
Next up was Afsnypunt, a dramatic piece that speaks to the themes of rejection, isolation and manipulation. It leaves one with a ‘Lost Boys’-meets-suspense-thriller feeling in the end, hovering on the cusp of something truly insightful, as the antagonist is not who you expect him to be. Certain contextual elements appear to be missing by the end of the play, leaving one a bit lost as to the real story in the end, yet the commitment to character by Llewellyn Bond, Samuel Jumat and Brutney Singrew makes one excited to see these young actors develop their own creative voices even further in future.
Die Toringvrou appeals to the inner child and takes you on a magical journey. Nieke Lombard shows off her great puppetry skills in a fairy-tale setting with striking minimalistic design and direction by Nico Scheepers. Relying strongly on the Handspring Puppetry approach to her craft, she expresses the belief that her puppets should reveal an independent character and spirit in the way she animates them. Without speaking a word in this deeply emotional piece, the puppets sketch a nostalgic story of love and loss that makes you want to get up and hug them.
The Swan Song sees Buhle Ngaba, with strong direction by Ilana Cilliers. This physical theatre piece shares the swanlike tragedy of a young girl who craves love and expectance, while trying to escape reality. With dance, contrasting lighting and the use of her self-imposed confined space captivity she exhibits her emotional experience through the revelation of the anatomy of her wings. A powerful piece that strongly hints to the insightful work one can expect in future of this talented creative mind.
And what is a festival if you don’t allow yourself to experiment a little too?! An otherworldly adventure awaits you in Wentel. This graduation piece by the Dutch performer, Sonja Volmer, is best described as a theatrical trust exercise that makes you question what you see and if you can even trust your eyes as you look down to look up into space. It plays mind tricks with you in a most insightful and creative way. ‘Performed’ by Volmer along with Dagmar Geerlings, this Uitkampteater offering will surely have people talking.
Along with these shows, Uitkampteater also offers audiences the chance to experience Diep (non-verbal theatre), Sandra se Laaste Show (drama), Word ‘n Koei en Ontsnap Jou Quarter-Life Crisis (sketch comedy) and Ir(ras)ioneel (cabaret). Then, not to forget the young theatre fans, this year also sees Uitkampteater incorporate children’s theatre into the KKNK programme with Cindershoeler, In die Woud, Kattekwaad and Nog Meer Kattekwaad
Uitkampteater proves that it is possible to reveal character development to such a degree that within 20 minutes an audience feels invested in what happens. These performers tap into the power of theatre to make people care within a very short space of time. That is a theatrical skill that all too often gets lost in mainstream productions. It is very encouraging to see that skill is being embraced by the future of theatre. Thank you, Uitkampteater!
Lees meer: www.kknk.co.za/uitkampteater/