So after a final day at the national Ats Fest in Grahamstown I head back to Durban to prepare for directing the Tattoo to discover it has been cancelled/postponed due to former President Mandela’s impending passing. The military obviously know something the rest of us don’t.
So on my final day at fest I managed to see my old friend David Butler in the BRAM FISCHER WALTZ. He has always been a lovely South African actor and plays the imprisoned Bram Fischer with great calm and focus. Insightful piece. I finally got to see CALLUM’S WILL at last which starred Darren King and Clinton Small. Moving piece written by Janna Ramos-Violante. She has a real gift for dialogue. So then preparations for our 3rd performance of the 39 STEPS. Audiences are picking up and the review in Activate is good.
I leave Grahamstown to return to Durban and now that the Tattoo is cancelled I have time to think about NAF. Clearly the solo show dominates the theatre scene. After 3 days I managed to see only 6 productions out of the 400-odd. Apart from the youth ballet and 3 LITTLE PIGS, the other shows that I saw were all solo. Makes sense, I suppose, in these economic times. All the more reason for the success of Durban’s MUSHO! theatre festival which celebrates that genre. I had an enjoyable visit to NAF but couldn’t help feeling slightly detached from it all. It is simply not as I remembered it over the years. It would seem that there are many festival goers who simply want entertainment and excitement as opposed to a real thought-provoking arts experience. The bars and eateries seem to be filled with young people just wanting to get drunk & party. Gone are the ‘gesselige’ eveving near fires with fellow artists conjuring the next great work. Even the so-called Artists lounge was off the beaten track and almost empty every time I visited. Nonetheless, I’m sure there were many who were having a fabulous time.
So with time to kill back home before my trip to the Marseilles Festival I manage to watch the DVD i was given more that 10 months ago. It is called Celebration Day and is the DVD of the long awaited LED ZEPELLIN re-union that took place in London in 2007. I was totally mesmerized by the grey-haired Jimmy Page still belting out the most amazing riffs. Robert Plant still is one of the most impressive rock singers and John Paul Jones who has always been the unsung hero played a solid bass and keyboards. I was particularly moved to see the late LZ drummer, John Bonham’s son, Jason on the drums. “Been a long time since the Rock n roll….!” What a show!This is what Europe has over us. We have the sunshine and the elephants and they get to see LED ZEPPELIN etc ‘live’.