Review Die Dag Toe Guppie Sweef – innovative and nuanced theatre for young people- challenging how we think about our world, and the people in it- presented by Motorhuis Productions
|Die Dag Toe Guppie Sweef|
Writer/director: Alberto Smit
Cast: Jeani Heyns and Kerscha Titus
Producer: Motorhuis Productions
~ The Drama Factory in the Strand
November 19, 2022 – noon and 2pm
Booking link: https://www.thedramafactory.co.za/show/motornov22/
Language: Afrikaans with isiXhosa
#chooselive #theatresa #clowning #childrenstheatre
Die Dag Toe Guppie Sweef – presented by Motorhuis Productions Cape Town is on at two venues in November, 2022: The run at The Galloway Theatre at the Waterfront Theatre School is over but the play will be on at The Drama Factory on November 19– noon and 2pm.
I saw Guppie at The Galloway Theatre at the Waterfront Theatre School, last week. There was loadshedding but the show went on. They played with an open door to allow in natural light. I enjoyed the show – impressive use of clowning and physical theatre. Director/writer Alberto Smit has invoked Poor Theatre in the staging – making use of found objects and limited props. There is a visceral use of space and terrific energy between the performers, Jeani Heyns and Kerscha Titus.
Motorhuis is a new company, headed up by Heyns. Alberto and performer Kerscha Titus are recent college graduates. Kerscha is doing post graduate work. Jeani graduated from Waterfront Theatre. They are twenty somethings – early twenty-somethings- young and talented – and passionate about making theatre which challenges and which ignites conversations. The play premiered, earlier this year at the KKNK .
Bravo to the team for creating theatre for young people. My feeling is that Guppie is for audiences from 10 and up. It is a play set in the future-2052- and is threaded with political and social leitmotifs. There is a complex narrative. The text – isiXhosa and Afrikaans and some English – grapples with politics of translation. It is left to the viewers to construct the story from what they understand – or don’t –and from the vivid physical expression on stage – which conveys a non-verbal story/narrative. Conventions of linear translation inevitably means that a considerable amount is lost in translation. This play, grapples deftly with the ‘politics of translation’ and this is conveyed powerfully by the use of a broken telephone game (with tins, connected to string). How do we ‘explain’ and ‘translate’ that which has been uttered in another language – and how do we do that in a way that takes cognisance of layering which may not translate seamlessly into another language?
Jeani Heyns asked me to not place the English translation of the play in my header, when writing about the piece. Hop over to https://thecaperobyn.co.za/preview-exciting-theatre-for-children-die-dag-toe-guppie-sweef-presented-by-motorhuis-productions-cape-town/ and learn more about the narrative. Heyns explains: ”Two clowns time travel from the year 2052, and depicts the parable of Guppie. The story is set in Die Republiek van Die Kapok Boere Vereeniging (Or the RKBV). After a devastating earthquake hits the town, a chasm forms around a patch of land that includes twelve farms, two dams and a church. As a border security guard, Guppie’s job is to stare at the electric fence for days on end. He wonders: Is there life on the other side? Do they look like monsters from one of his worst nightmares, or can the answer be found in a tin can? This production uses clowning and physical theatre techniques, and has something in store for young and old. It challenges the way we think about our world, and the people in it.” Smit says: “The show is a playful story about old rules, new friendships and how to change your world.”
My feeling is that younger audiences, could do with some kind of interaction with the company. There was a two and half year old in the audience, when I saw it at the Galloway. He loved the Guppie character but was restless. I think he would have loved some interaction with the performers and possibly being able to play with found objects/props. I can see the company selling squishy guppies to the audience.
It was interesting that a group of people at the Galloway show, had seen a poster, advertising the show, at the Sea Point Pavilion. Old style marketing works. I would love to see Guppie developed further – with audience interaction and with a play park, afterwards for kids to explore the stuff on stage – yarn, tins (think broken telephone). Smit told me that lighting is key to the piece – transporting the audience to a magical sphere. When I saw the play, there was load shedding, so there was no lighting plot. For me, that did not matter. It was lovely to watch with the door open and natural light filtering in. I like the resilience of the company – continuing no matter what. Die Dag Toe Guppie Sweef evokes for me, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame. It is an existentialist work and I can see it being developed into a play for adults.
✳ Featured image –Die Dag Toe Guppie Sweef – November 2022 at The Galloway Theatre, Cape Town- supplied. Related coverage on TheCapeRobyn: https://thecaperobyn.co.za/preview-exciting-theatre-for-children-die-dag-toe-guppie-sweef-presented-by-motorhuis-productions-cape-town/