Graham Weir on stage at Baxter

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Dead Yellow Sands - Graham Weir. Pic by Jesse Kramer.
Dead Yellow Sands – Graham Weir. Pic by Jesse Kramer.

Graham Weir’s award-winning Dead Yellow Sands comes to the Baxter this October and November.

Following its critical acclaim and sold out performances on the main programme of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival earlier this year, Graham Weir’s double Fleur du Cap award-winning Dead Yellow Sands comes to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio stage for a limited season from 31 October to 26 November at 8.15pm, with Saturday matinees at 4pm.

Winner of the Fleur du Cap Best Performance in a One-Person Show and Best Lighting Design awards, the autobiographical one-hander is written and performed by Weir, with direction by Bo Petersen and lighting design by Darron Araujo from a lighting concept by Guy de Lancey.

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This is not the first time that Petersen and Weir are working together. They have teamed up before in Weir’s self-penned works Tales from a Dark Corner, Letters from Patient Essop, and when Petersen directed Weir’s legendary acapella group Not The Midnight Mass.

Dead Yellow Sands is a return to minimalism: an actor lit with sophisticatedly simple lighting telling the stories he has lived. The production’s success is a testament to the haunting original South African script and the consummate skills of the veteran production team.

“With this work I really wanted to examine the essence of theatre,” says Weir about the staging of the play. “I wanted one of the characters to be lit so that he was like a floating head, another character (a blind man) to be lit so that the audience experienced the blindness he talked about, and so on.”

Since its premier last year the play has received glowing reviews. Cape Argus gave it five stars and described it as “a tour de force not to be missed…” while Cue called it “a masterclass in voice and text.” The Critter said that the “production’s simplicity and transparency holds greater power than grand false spectacle.”

The sketches for the play were written over the last few months of 2014. “When I completed them I wasn’t sure if they were even pieces that would work on the stage or not,” explains Weir. “I thought that they might be something one would sit and read. I contacted Bo Petersen and after reading them, her response was positive and encouraging. She was excited about the theatrical potential of the work.”

Graham Weir is a world-class performer with extensive experience in the industry, having appeared on stage, in films and on television. Most recently he appeared in the American TV drama Of Kings and Prophets. He also plays a lead in the 13-part television series Hotel currently on kykNET, and he appears in BBC television’s Jamillah and Aladdin. Other theatre and film credits include Not the Midnight Mass, Burnt Out, Black Sails, Spud 1 and Spud 3: Learning to Fly, The Blue Iris, Waiting for Godot and Lost in the Stars.

He has a number of accolades under his belt including two Fleur du Cap awards. Earlier this year he was awarded for the Best Performance in a One-Man play or revue for Dead Yellow Sands. 2009 saw him receive the Best Performance in a Cabaret for Not The Midnight Mass. In 1994 Weir walked away with two Vita Regional Awards for Best Original Script and Best Production for Brief Descriptions 2. The production also garnered him two Vita National Awards for Production of the Year of a new South African Play and South African Playwright of the Year.

Dead Yellow Sands previews on Monday 31 October 8.15pm, opens on Tuesday 1 November and runs until 26 November, with matinees on Saturdays at 4pm. There is an age restriction of 12 years, parental guidance is advised.

Tickets cost R110 and booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, e-mail sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen on 021 680 3993, e-mail carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

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