Theatre preview: Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA), Riebeek Kasteel, South Africa opens its 2021 season, with three productions

Venue: Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre
What: Three productions in Jan 2021
Programme: Roger Lucey’s How to Build a House in The Mountains (Jan 8, 9) ; Wynand van Vollentsee in Groet Die Grotman 2 (Jan 20) and Sue Pam-Grant and Kevin Smith in Duel /Duet; The Every Love Story (Jan 23, 29 and 30)

Address: 33 Main St, Royal Hotel, Riebeek KasteelTime: 8.15pm – 9.30 pm CAT (Central African Time) Info: Theatre and accommodation packages:  Shawn at Riebeek Valley Tours 082 528 6785 or e-mail Distance from Cape Town: 80km
Booking: Tickets: R100-R120

Mark Graham-Wilson, the artistic director of RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre) has announced three productions for January 2021. The amphitheatre is on the grounds of the charming Royal Hotel (stay the night). Seats are spread apart – with circular stone sculpture installations providing barriers between people. [The installation units are part of The Stone Circle Project, mentored by conceptual artist Emma Willemse.] Masks must, of course, be worn. In pandemic times, this is live theatre which is about as ‘safe’ as one can get – outdoors with gaps between people. The setting is breathtaking and the hospitality in the small town is wonderful. It is destination theatre – a respite – a balm-from the pandemic. The launch production, Covid Moons, directed by Clare Stopford, sold out. Read my review, on TheCapeRobyn. Covid Moons was followed by with good houses for Audience With Miss Hobhouse And Oom Schalk from the heart.

The three January 2021 productions are a mix of music, drama and comedy. This is innovative and inspirational programming – never mind that it is Covid –and it is being staged during the pandemic. Bravo to team RATA. It is not an easy task to set up outdoor theatre and during a pandemic, it is a lot more challenging. The 2021 season kicks off with the legendary Roger Lucey and the evocatively titled, How to Build a House in The Mountains. In the show, the activist musician, film producer/director, television arts producer/presenter, song writer, storyteller will share his journey –“ from his banning and harassment at the hands of the Nationalist government to finding freedom and peace through befriending the Special Branch agent who pursued him – and building a house in the mountains.” Lucey’s five music albums were ‘banned’ in the 1980s and he became voluble “international voice of freedom” when he performed at festivals and events around the globe such as Incroce de Civilta Festival Venice, Vicenza Poetry Festival, Arrezo World Music Festival, International Gathering on Freedom of Expression Istanbul, International Conference on Music and Censorship, Copenhagen, Mundos World Music Festival Italy, Ferarra International Buskers Festival, Italy, Awesome Africa. Book early to watch and listen to the great Roger Lucey, under the stars at RATA, Riebeek Kasteel.

January 8 and 9, 2021- How to Build a House in The Mountains

Written and directed and starring Roger Lucey

January 20, 2021- Groet Die Grotman 2

Starring Wynand van Vollentsee. Written by Frans Swart. Directed by Frans Swart. Presented by Lefra Produksies

Here is the info as supplied: “Its 20 years later.  The Caveman and Elize are still happily married… or are they?  The children are teenagers.  Men and women are still very different creatures from different planets.  Are all men still assholes?  And are women still gatherers?  The original Groet de Grotman still holds the record for the Afrikaans theatre production that has had the most performances over the longest period – more than 1,000 performances in 10 years! After resting for almost a decade the Grotman has decided to make his comeback.  “Here I am again. I’m out of my cave and I have many new stories to tell you!”

January 23, 29 and 30, 2021-Duel /Duet; The Every Love Story

Starring Sue Pam-Grant and Kevin Smith. Written by Sue Pam-Grant in collaboration with Kevin Smit. Directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven and Mark Graham-Wilson

Sue Pam-Grant, Kevin Smith and Mark Graham-Wilson studied drama together at UCT in the early 1980s. Almost four decades later, during the pandemic, they are collaborating on this “performance artwork” written by Pam-Grant which “combines movement, words, silences, music and projection in a vivid and stirring theatrical experience; a story that resonates with Everyman and Everywoman.” The team said: “The first iteration of the production was directed by the late Gerrit Schoonhoven, to whose memory this season is dedicated. Not to be missed by the serious theatre goer – or anyone who has ever been in love.”

Roger Lucey will be performing, How to Build a House in The Mountains at RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre), Riebeek Kasteel, South Africa, January 8 and 9, 2021. Supplied.

Wynand van Vollentsee is starring in Groet Die Grotman 2, at RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre), Riebeek Kasteel, South Africa, January 20, 2021. Supplied.

Kevin Smith and Sue Pam-Grant will be performing in Duel /Duet; The Every Love Story, RATA (Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre), Riebeek Kasteel, South Africa, January 23, 29 and 30, 2021. Supplied.

RATA is grateful for the support from BASA- Business Arts South Africa.