Abandon mindless nightly repeats of DSTV Jeremy Clarkson re-runs: hit the footlights instead

‘Us South Africans’ don’t know how lucky we are with the quality of theatre and the comparative low cost of tickets for what are often world class productions.  And Joburg is particularly spoilt for choice, with a range of completely different genres. There is too much dark comedy and way too many farcical theatrics in the real world at the moment, so let’s get some light relief with good theatrical comedy.  Showing at Monte Casino is Alan Committee in Love Factually.  Alan Committee was the indefatigable Love actuallyirrepressible protagonist in endless re-runs of Defending the Caveman, which, despite all its un-P-C gender stereotyping,  had some very funny vignettes of situations many of us have experienced. The same seems to apply to Love Factually which got a rave review from Lesley Stone in the Daily Maverick  https://www.google.co.za/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Daily+Maverick+lesley+stone+love+Factually  Love Factually runs until 3rd April at Monte Casino Theatre.

Opening at Theatre on the Square on 29th March is Shape,  a new comedy written by husband and wife team  Steven and Kate Sidley and directed by Greg Homann.  It’s a satirical take on the different attitudes of three South Africans to their shared experiences. ‘The lives of these very different characters converge on the floor of a Joburg gym. The play explores their typically South African concerns – race, gender, politics, relationships … and the quest for tighter abs!

And if you still want some more comedic entertainment, the Joburg Theatre has Space Dot Comedy a stand-up comedy show on the last Friday of every month.  Each show features a mixed line up of six comedians and the host, Virgil Prins.

Liz's Pick of the Week

Liz’s Pick of the Week

POPArt in the 12 Decades Hotel in the Maboneng Precinct always has amazingly good productions which vary from the quirky and off-the-wall to the powerful and thought-provoking – often in the same play.  It’s a very small informal theatre which has short runs of 4 performances – Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons and shows usually only an hour long.  So do yourselves a favour and keep an eye out for upcoming productions at POPArt as they have really excellent shows.  Fruit (from 31st March to 3rd April) is a one hander in which 14 year old Matlakala (played by Matshediso Mokoteli) talks to her doll about her life in Soweto.  ‘There are no bright lights or busy sets, but rest assured, this will be one of the most vivid and compelling productions you will see this year’ – Tracey Saunders, Cape Times.  If you want to have a quick bite beforehand there are

Grilled Red Snapper Cote D'Ivoire style with potato wedges & plantain

House of Baobab: Grilled Red Snapper Cote D’Ivoire style with potato wedges & plantain

some great options close by – House of Baobab Cnr Kruger and Main 011 039 1632 for mouth-watering West African style dishes; Che Argentine at 303 Fox St – stunning meat and vege dishes cooked over an open fire. But you need to book WELL IN ADVANCEit’s incredibly popular (011 614 0264). And the extraordinarily inexpensive Little Addis for big platters of njera and other Ethiopian delicacies.  (Take your own wine – it’s not licensed.)

And to celebrate the Market Theatre’s 40th birthday year, Malcolm Purkey’s iconic 1986 musical Sophiatown returns for a brief run from 24th March to 17th April.  Sophiatown-Poster[12]_thumbGoing to the Market Theatre is so easy now. Over Mandela Bridge, right at the first traffic lights into Carr St,  left at the first traffic lights into Miriam Makeba St and the underground parking for the new Newtown Junction Mall is on your right.  Take

News Cafe on one side of the piazza

News Cafe on the Newtown Junction side of the piazza; City Lodge Hotel in the background

the lifts to ground level which opens out onto an outdoor piazza between the newly opened mall – the Newtown Junction –  and the adjacent Workshop (a shopping emporium in the old Potato Sheds of the original Newtown market – Joburg’s main fresh produce market from 1913 till the early 1970s). Various restaurants open onto the piazza including News

Deconstructed salad served in a wooden box

Deconstructed salad served in a wooden box at the Potato Shed

Cafe as well as the Potato Shed (Tel: 010 590 6133) sister restaurant to Grand Life Café in Hyde Park.  Fabulous pre-theatre fare is the wide selection of baked potatoes with scrumptious fillings.

So forgo the 989th outdated Jeremy Clarkson Top Gear re-run foisted on us by DSTV, tear yourself away from rugby and cricket replays, and, instead of asking friends over for supper, ask them to join you in exploring Jozi and its thespian delights.  That little bit of planning and effort  will be worth it I promise.


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winters tale posterNo, I’m not talking about the state of the nation but rather about Shakespeare’s amazing influence on the English language. I am sure many of you are familiar with Bernard Levin’s famous poem On quoting Shakespeare but I’m afraid to say that I did not know it.  I recently saw the HD live screening at Cinema Nouveau (Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg) of  The Winter’s Tale (performed at London’s Garrick Theatre). In addition to seeing the remarkable Judy Dench at the age of 80,playing Paulina, it was a treat to experience Kenneth Branagh as Leontes and Tom Bateman as Florizel, plus, plus plus …

As an added bonus, Rob Bryden read Bernard Levin’s poem ….

On Quoting Shakespeare

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare “It’s Greek to me”, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you act more in sorrow than in anger;

if your wish is farther to the thought;

if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare;

if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy,

if you have played fast and loose,

if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle,

if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing,

if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare;

if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage,

if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it,

if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood,

if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play,

if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare;

even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing,

if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness’ sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

What an extraordinary linguistic and cultural legacy one man left.


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All things great and small: First-Thursday 3rd March

From large-scale installation work to small images no larger than 30 X 30 cm, there are some very exciting exhibitions already running or opening this coming week.   The 3rd March is the first Thursday of the month which means late evening opening in Braamfontein as well as on the art strip in the Lower Rosebank area.   Several exhibitions open that night and offer a very varied and wide range of artwork.

inch X inch at David Krut In Parkwood

inch X inch at David Krut In Parkwood

Opening at David Krut is inch x inch (more correctly i.n.c.h x i.n.c.h),  a group exhibition of small scale works (less than 30 X 30cm) from  almost 40 artists with lots of very well-known names amongst them:  William Kentridge,  Penny Siopis, David Koloane,  Diane Victor, Stephen Hobbs,  Bronwyn Findlay, Sandile Goje, Maja Maljević, Robyn Penn, Faith 47 amongst others. Some are new works and some come from the David Krut archive with many of these artists coming from the Krut stable.  An extensive variety of mediums is represented including etchings, paintings, photographs, linocuts, drawings,  and even sculptures. This promises to be a very exciting exhibition.

Down the road at Circa on Jellicoe Phillemon Hlungwani’s exhibition From Giyani to Alexandra opens. Hlungwane who was born, as the title of the exhibition suggests, in Giyani, came to Johannesburg in 2000 after matric to study at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and then at Artists Proof Studio where he still teaches.  I look back to when his works were really affordable and could kick myself that I didn’t buy some of his work back then. Often working monochromatically, in both his prints and charcoal drawings, he has introduced colour into his work in recent years. His figurative work remains rooted in the landscape and urban scenes. While some of his renderings of street scenes verge on ‘township potboiler’, he has produced some technically extraordinary work.

This installation was shown again at the Nirox 2015 Winter Sculpture fair

Temple of Flora was shown again at the Nirox 2015 Winter Sculpture fair

Opening at MOMO on 7th Ave Parktown North, is Jonathan Freemantle’s Der Heiliger Berg II. I first saw Freemantle’s work at the Standard Bank Gallery’s exhibition Exact Imagination, 300 years of botanically inspired art in South Africa where the specially commissioned work Temple of Flora 2014 was shown.   Along with resembling a greenhouse structure, the Temple of Flora is, as its name suggests, part sacred space as well as alluding to an alchemical lab . With proportions based on the geometric harmony of the golden mean, the entire symbolism of this structure is complex and layered. In the ‘greenhouse’ Freemantle places 5 different plants species with each each plant having 3 incarnations: the botanical plant itself; the distilled version of the plants in the form of essential oils; and a painting of the plant in which the oil from the plant has been used to paint the image.  So the essence of the plant itself forms a part of the final medium used to represent the plant – a rebirth or remaking of the plant in a different form.

Image Courtesy MOMO

From Der Heilege Berg series Image Courtesy MOMO

In his holy mountain paintings on Der Heiliger Berg II, he invokes a similar ritual. Freemantle has spent time in two mountain ranges- Rannoch Moor in Scotland and the Magaliesberg in the Cradle of Humankind. Taking rocks from these mountains he grinds them into powder form, mixes this with beeswax, turpentine, linseed oil and Damar resin (from the Damar tree) and uses it to paint the images of the mountain or Heilige Berg.  These archetypal ‘holy mountains’ have an aesthetic power and looming other-worldly presence.

And at Goodman is the very exciting exhibition by Alfredo Jaar, the Chilean installation artist. This is his first solo show in South Africa entitled  Amilcar Frantz Patrice and Others. Jaar’s work  responds to contemporary gobal events and deals with  issues such as social inequality, genocide, and how Africa is imaged in the media.  The exhibition gets its title from works dedicated to the African intellectuals Amilcar Cabral, Frantz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba as well as musician and activist Fela Kuti.  Two works on the show deal with the Rwandan genocide (moving in both senses  – non-static and deeply emotional) while a third is a chronological series of Newsweek covers showing how the world media ignored the Rwandan genocide.

Covers of 'The Man' by Irving Wallace about the possibility of a Black man becoming president if the US (first published 1964)

Covers of The Man by Irving Wallace about the possibility of a Black man becoming president of the US (first published 1964)

Two works take chronologically arranged book-covers from international publishing houses showing how Africa/Africans are represented at different moments in history by the Western world.  A large installation work at the centre of the exhibition suggests that Johannesburg could become a major financial hub in Africa – so a note of optimism in an otherwise deeply sobering and reflective exhibition.   This exhibition runs until 10th April.


Pick of the Week on Liz at Lancaster's noticeboard

Pick of the Week on Liz at Lancaster’s noticeboard

Showing concurrently at Wits Art Museum  (WAM) is Jaar’s major installation entitled The Sound of Silence (which has been exhibited around the world).   Reflecting Jaar’s long time interest in the politics of media images and the role of photojournalism, this installation was created in response to Kevin Carter’s controversial Pulitzer prize winning 2006 photo of the child with the vulture nearby.  Here Jaar problematizes the relationship between photography, violence, famine and human suffering.  He raises questions around how we (the general public) consume media and what our role is in terms of responsibility. Our passive onlooking, and lack of empathy and involvement in the horrendous situations around us, gives rise to the title of the exhibition Sound of Silence.   The artist said about this installation: “It is a lamentation. It’s a poem that asks about ethics of what we (photojournalists) do when we shoot pain.”  This exhibition which runs until 23rd March has been described as mesmerizing, powerful, haunting – so expect to be challenged and moved.

And make the most of this March #LateThursday – there is so much on offer.


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