Karoo Moose at the NAF and Baxter

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Karoo Moose, written and directed by Lara Foot. Pic by Ruphin Coudyzer
Karoo Moose, written and directed by Lara Foot. Pic by Ruphin Coudyzer

Lara Foot’s multi-award-winning play Karoo Moose kick-starts the Featured Artist season at the National Arts Festival.

Nearly a decade since its premiere and 15 top South African awards later, Lara Foot’s Karoo Moose returns to the stage with the original cast, who reprise their respective roles, having earned respect and acclaim in their own right over the years.

Following its run at the National Arts Festival from Thursday 30 June to 2 July (with four performances only), Karoo Moose transfers to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 31 August to 24 September 7.30pm nightly.

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Acclaimed playwright, director and producer, Lara Foot, was named the 2016 Featured Artist at the 43rd National Arts Festival this year, leading the charge on the Main programme, 80% of which is made up of work written, directed, curated or headlined by women. As the Featured Artist, she will stage three productions this year – the world premiere of her latest play The Inconvenience of Wings and restaging two of her previous multi-award-winning works, Karoo Moose and Tshepang.

The story of Karoo Moose is vividly brought to life by Zoleka Helesi, Mdu Kweyama, Bongile Mantsai, Thami Mbongo, Chuma Sopotela and Mfundo Tshazibane. The actors each perform a key character and double up to play multiple additional characters adding to the magic of the story and have won awards for their performances.

Among its impressive list of accolades, the production received the 2007 Aardvark Award for the Most Innovative Work, the 2008 Fleur du Cap Awards for Best Director and Best New Indigenous Production and the 2009 Naledi Awards for Best New South African Play, Best Production of a Straight Play and Best Director of a Play or Musical, as well as the 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Silver Award for theatre at the National Arts Festival.

The local media raved about the production, with the Cape Argus giving it five stars and saying, “Karoo Moose is a gem in South Africa’s theatre history. You leave the theatre with a tenderized heart and a song on your lips” and “Lara Foot’s magical piece has lost none of its brilliance and rewards upon repeated viewing.” Cue encouraged, “See it, see it, see it – and be assured you will exit the venue richly rewarded” and “Foot confirms her place as one of South Africa’s most important contemporary playwrights and directors.” Next 48Hours said, “It is only one of the most acclaimed and beloved productions of recent times, and pretty much as close to a phenomenon as you can get in the area of locally-penned, locally-produced theatre productions.”

Equal praise came from the international media when the play made its UK debut at the Tricycle Theatre in London. The Guardian called it “Fresh, immediate and often delightful” and Evening Standard describing it as “… funny and (fun), generously energetic yet also disturbing and soulful” and The Daily Telegraph saying, “… the basic narrative line is strong, and this deeply felt, constantly imaginative production richly rewards alert attention.”

Performed in English with isiXhosa, the story takes place in a remote and impoverished village in the Karoo, where the inhabitants are struggling to survive. A young girl called Thozama ends up killing a moose. But what is the moose doing there, and how did it get there?

Karoo Moose, written and directed by Lara Foot. Pic by Ruphin Coudyzer
Karoo Moose, written and directed by Lara Foot. Pic by Ruphin Coudyzer

The play was originally written as a film entitled No Fathers. Writer and director Lara tackles the disintegration of the family unit and the violation of innocence endured by so many South African children. The play cleverly and creatively combines African story-telling and magical realism.

Lara explains, “The themes of the story for me were bound up in the idea that the children in the village needed some kind of magical event to free them from abuse, neglect and poverty. Something magical was needed to break the cycle of violence.”

Herman van der Westhuizen, chairman of the Aardklop panel of judges described it best, “the theatre-style is fresh – African storytelling, song, music, visual theatre, rituals and healing theatre. It shifts the boundaries of traditional South African drama to a palette of magical realism, folk tale, story-telling and musical theatre.”

Set and lighting design is by Patrick Curtis, musical direction and lyrics by Bongile Mantsai, choreography by Mdu Kweyama and costumes and props by Koos Marais.

Karoo Moose runs at the National Arts Festival from 30 June to 2 July (with only four performances) and thereafter transfers to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 31 August to 24 September. There is an age restriction of 13.

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

PRODUCTION INFORMATION

KAROO MOOSE

Presented by: The Baxter Theatre Centre, in association with the National Arts Festival

Written and directed by Lara Foot

CAST
Zoleka Helesi
Mdu Kweyama
Bongile Mantsai
Thami Mbongo
Chuma Sopotela
Mfundo Tshazibane

Musical Direction and Lyrics: Bongile Mantsai
Choreography: Mdu Kweyama
Set and Lighting Design: Patrick Curtis
Costumes and Props: Koos Marais
Props assistant: Mariam Matai

Xhosa translations by the cast
Originally commissioned by ABSA Aardklop Festival

Age restriction: 13+ (LV)

DATES & TIMES:
National Arts Festival: Thursday, 30 June at 18:00; Friday, 1 July at 12:00 and 18:00; Saturday, 2 July at 12:00
Baxter Golden Arrow Studio at 19:30: 31 August – 24 September

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