On stage: Godfrey Johnson’s The Shadow of Brel at Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA), Riebeek Kasteel, March 5 & 6 2021

 What: The Shadow of Brel Venue: Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre Date: March 5 and 6, 2021, 8:15 pm – 9:30 pm Featuring: Godfrey Johnson Director: Sanjin Muftic Address: on the grounds of TheRoyal Hotel, 33 Main St, Riebeek Kasteel Booking:  https://artstown.co.za/book-now/ Tickets: R100 Info: royalartstownamphitheatre@gmail.com Theatre and accommodation packages:  Shawn at Riebeek Valley Tours 082 528 6785 or e-mail goodintentconnections@gmail.com Distance from Cape Town: 80km

This weekend, Friday March 5 and Saturday March 6, 2021 – March 5, 2021- Godfrey Johnson will go on stage at RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre) in Riebeek Kasteel with his acclaimed solo show, The Shadow of Brel. The show was nominated for a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award. The classically trained Godfrey Johnson has beguiled audiences with his interpretations of Brel and the show also includes a selection of his own compositions – music and songs. Brel’s songs are knotted with longing, anxiety, anger, fear, tension, passion, extremes of emotions. I think that we can all relate to that right now. Brel was a complex person and his music is layered with his restlessness and quest to make sense of it all; to love and be loved; to be mindful of the passage of time; youth and old love- to celebrate that as well. I think that is why his music is timeless – as it transcends time and place and taps into our emotions. The songs – music and lyrics – make us feel- as we are transported into his storytelling. Godfrey Johnson is a story teller, in the troubadour tradition, regaling us with his stories. In this show, which I have seen numerous times, over the years, he seamlessly weaves Brel’s stories, music and images with his own.

RATA’s artistic director, Mark Graham-Wilson has created outdoor theatre of magic at RATA, during Covid and the national lockdown. He has lit and designed the amphitheatre, against the backdrop of The Royal Hotel and framed and spotlighted the stage- with ingenious use of low-cost and found props.  I watched Covid Moons, directed by Clare Stopford and it was an extraordinary experience – magical – sitting under the stars. Watching Godfrey Johnson’s The Shadow of Brel, at RATA is bound to be special. Sadly, I am unable to be there but I highly recommend that you get there and watch in this glorious setting. March 5 is one year after the first reported case of Covid in South Africa. It is an important date. For months, there was no live performance. Then, venues opened up. RATA, as an outdoor venue was one of the first. Covid Moons was delayed because a cast member came down with Covid. Covid Moons was staged – spectacularly. Read my review. Link follows. Covid delivered a new variant and some RATA shows were cancelled and shuffled. And here we are with Godfrey Johnson, March 5/6, 201, a year after Covid slammed into us and rammed into the live performance sector. Creatives have continued to create and spaces like RATA have provided a vital platform – an innovative space – with inspired lighting and design.

Bravo to Godfrey Johnson, Mark Graham-Wilson and RATA team, funders like BASA. A mighty shout-out to Robert Brendel, owner of The Royal Hotel for providing a venue and platform. The entire RATA season was made possible by the  Riebeek Kasteel community. A group made cushions for people to sit on- quirky denim cushions. The town pulled together to welcome visitors and make them feel cherished and safe during these strange days. I was at RATA on two occasions; for the launch and to see Covid Moons and I felt nurtured after being in this space, with the creativity, energy and spark at RATA.  It felt like an awakening. Covid has been a time of disconnection – from people. Sure, we have had emotional connection through video calls and other forms of communication but there have been limits in terms of connecting physically with people out of our household units. I will never forget the experience of getting dressed up for my first outing to RATA and then the joy of watching Covid Moons -watching an extraordinary piece of theatre in the amphitheatre. Get to RATA, to see Godfrey Johnson. It will be a night to remember.

Godfrey Johnson is performing his his acclaimed solo show, The Shadow of Brel, at RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre) in Riebeek Kasteel on March 5 and 6, 2021. Supplied.

Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) is grateful from the support that it has received from BASA- Business Arts South Africa. https://basa.co.za/

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