It’s that time of year where we reflect on what made our blood boil… in a good way. Outside of a regular overdose on Tom Waits, Grapetiser, coffee and whisky, here is a list of the shows that got us in that wide-and-crazy-eyed inspired mood.

Annnnnd…in alphabetical order, because any other order would have caused unnecessary upset…

Anubis

By Uta Gebert, performed at Out the Box Festival, Cape Town, September 2011.

This piece was nominated for Best Production at the Out the Box Festival. The puppet was amazingly agile and created from a real skull of a jackal! This puppet may represent the afterlife and mummification but he was a pretty groovy guy dancing with the scales of judgement, much like a DJ and his turntables.

It was a master-class in puppetry.

Burn Makwerekwere Burn

Written Blessing Hungwe, directed by Giles Ramsay, performed at the opening of the Harare International Festival of Arts, Harare, March 2011.

Burn Makwerekwere Burn

This piece was about two guys from Zim, one Shona, one Ndebele trying to make a life for themselves in South Africa. It proved quite inspirational in the run up to National Arts Festival and Benchmarks. Outside of the theme alone, Rob saw this at the opening of HIFA and ranked it one of the best he saw this year.

Jesus Christ Superstar

A Pieter Toerien Production, performed at Theatre on the Bay, Cape Town, May 2011.Jesuschrist

Just because.

Hol

By Nicola Hanekom, directed by Fred Abrahamse, performed at Artscape, Cape Town, October, 2011

Hol

Nicola Hanekom stayed on the treadmill for the whole 70 minutes, totalling a distance of 8km’s for every night’s performance. Outside of shaping pretty firm buttocks on the job, the piece itself, entirely in Afrikaans, was just so powerful and elegant. Hanekom’s piece demonstrated just how much could be done on a set as small as a treadmill.

Hotel Paradiso

By Familie Flöz, performed at the Harare International Festival of Arts, Harare March 2011

This was the reason our creative team travelled all the way to Harare: they heard that Familie Flöz would be performing. Hotel Paradiso is a full-mask comedy, which is a flippin’ awesome deal for our dark clowns. Being exposed to international mask-workers is what our clowns call research.

Memory of How it Feels

Written by Neo Muyanga, directed by Ina Wichterich, Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, February 2011.NEO MUYANGA'S 'MEMORY OF HOW IT FEELS' 2011!

Featuring Remix’s Andile Vellem, a Deaf dancer, it was always on our list of shows to see. Though, come now, we should stop seeing him as “that Deaf dancer,” because the guy is just an amazing dancer, however abled. Neo Muyanga’s story was the bringing to life of visual poetry in its movement: a sight that should have been seen by everyone.

Monkey Nuts

By Matthew Ribnick, directed by Geraldine Naidoo, performed at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, September 2011.Matthew_Ribnick_in_Monkey_Nuts_pic_1_by_Louis_Chetty_large

Photo by Louis Chetty

This one caused a slight uproar when we put this list together. Some said, “Hell no,”  while some said, “Hell yes, and if you’re naming JC Superstar, I’m calling Monkey Nuts”. And so order was restored in the kingdom. To defend Monkey Nuts, which is arguably a more commercial piece in the world of fringe theatre, credit was given to Mattew Ribnick’s incredible comic timing and his fine-tuned ability to swop between characters. All in all, he is a funny guy and that, has confirmed his place on our list.

Mr Cat and the Jackal

A band, not a production, but with a phenomenal performance quality that they were deemed worthy to credit as one of the best productions we have seen this year. 

As a piece of live performance, Mr Cat and The Jackal are a five-man band with couple a of guitars and bunch of weird and sometimes home-made instruments. They are folky-pirates from Stellenbosch with a great stage presence and unfaltering voices. We love them.

Check out this awesome bit of puppetry done by Ysterfang Puppetry for the music video, “Bad Man He Comin’. ” Wearing their conspiracy of clowns caps, Rob, Jayne and Liezl got to collaborate with them at the opening of the Bijou Open Arts studios. Sweet dream come true!

Red Earth

A collaboration between Laway Theatre Company and Speeltheatre Holland, performed at Theatre Arts Admin Collective, December 2011.

It’s always difficult to do a popular story over but this was an incredibly powerful retelling of Nongqawuse’s story; the Xhosa prophetess who caused one of the greatest tragedies in Xhosa history. The directors of Speeltheatre have been running their company for 40 years and their impressive track record just shined through, not to mention the wealth of South African experience on stage with the likes of Tau Qwelane and  Macebo Mavuso. For this short run in Cape Town, the workshop trainees from UNIMA were worked into the piece, check the clip to see a bit of their awesome rehearsal.

Out the Box Festival : Reading out of the Funders

Jason Potgieter and Beren Belknap introducing the funders with puppets. 240357_10150193497352470_685772469_7280229_8130474_o

Right, so this photo (taken by Luke Younge) is actually from the production of ‘Ouroborous, another awesome production, but Jason (left) and Beren (right), outside of being talented puppeteers, are two funny guys with a great rapport that made the reading out of funders a highlight of the opening ceremony at Out The Box.  Using the puppets from ‘Inja ka Vuyo’, a dog and a big green monster, they may have pissed off a few of the funders when they ridiculed unlabelled logos, but for the rest which were labelled, the funders were actually remembered and not just a boring part of ‘what-had-to-be-mentioned.’

Bravo B ‘n J! More like this!

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