By Rafiek Mammon
I know it is rain that we desperately need in Cape Town. However, if you’re going to wait until tomorrow for the rain, you might be missing out on the glorious sunshine today! Believe me, while waiting, we may as well enjoy the sun…and I mean that in the best possible sense. I have no idea what is going to happen to this country of ours so while you are still by the means, book to see ‘Annie’ and be reminded that tomorrow is really just a day away with whatever it holds – mostly what you make of it, of course.
It was a weekend of east meeting west for me theatrically speaking. In fact, in many ways, it was a reminder of the city’s diversity – culturally and otherwise. We were at a wedding on Friday – in Houw Hoek – one of those very swanky affairs – a good party. Then, on Saturday we attended the Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasia concert at the CTICC and then it was the turn of ‘Annie’ that opened on Sunday late afternoon. So, in a word, I would call it a full, but balanced weekend.
It was as if the sun was rising at the CTICC: in the East, and then literally “coming out” the following day at Artscape, with Annie belting: “The sun will come out tomorrow.” And would you believe, it is Monday morning now, and as I am writing, guess what? The sun has come out, shining soothingly on my face as I write these lines on my balcony with Woody, my cat, looking longingly (avariciously) at the birds chirping away in the trees.
Back to the sun and the theatre: I always say – we are spoilt for choice in the city; so many great theatre experiences to be had – from the little Kalk Bay Theatre and the Rosebank Theatre, with their intimate productions to the mighty Opera House playing host to some of the most remarkable talents this city has to offer. And what a treat, what an absolute theatrical treat this weekend was!
Hussain and Chaurasia were an astonishing duo – skilled, peaceful and playful – they made two hours with no interval feel like a few minutes. Truly mesmerising, trancelike stuff: just the two of them sitting, as if on a magic carpet, playing the tabla and the flute. And by the end of it – the audience, in unison, rose to its feet with thunderous applause. And then on Sunday evening the same thing happened with ‘Annie’. And I am not just talking about people waiting for the leads to do their curtain call before rising to their feet; I mean a collective roar that came from the heart from the minute the last note was sung.
‘Annie’ is funny and uplifting and our all-South African cast does it justice and more…most importantly, it is a verrry American story that the producers did not “South Africanise” and we thank them for that. It stays true to the original text and the musical numbers are truly breathtaking. We have been to London’s WestEnd and have seen some of these musicals that Pieter Toerien and Hazel Feldman bring to our shores, casting our very own SA performers. And, I hear everybody saying “they are every bit as good as international performers”. I say: they are even better…they are international.
They travel with these productions and when they do, they become international acts. We do not always have to compare ourselves to the world – let’s compare the world to us! And this is not just with musical theatre – even with some of our serious dramas – we have actors, actresses and theatre makers that are absolutely world-class. And moments like these are what make us proud to be South African.
I spoke earlier about the direction (or lack thereof) in which the country is going. What more can one say? Economists can predict and politicians can disappoint and disappoint and disappoint…did I mention that they disappoint?
But one thing remains certain: The arts, in all its forms, bring hope and joy and beauty and hold up mirrors, and, and…
I don’t think the DStv people are not going to like me very much – but don’t take them too seriously when they tell you it is terrible to go out and support your local restaurant or theatre, and that it is better to give them a sizeable chunk of your income every month to entertain you in the comfort of your own home. Nothing beats the feeling of the magic of theatre.
Actually, I can think of a few things, and by “few” I mean fewer than I have fingers on my one hand. But that, dear reader, I will contentedly leave to your vivid imaginations…