Mary Watson’s ‘JungFrau’ from Page to Stage

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Mary Watson's JungFrau
Mary Watson’s JungFrau

Mary Watson’s short story “JungFrau’ will come to life on stage in Germany and South Africa later this year, adapted by Ameera Patel and directed by Jade Bowers.

Based on the Caine prize-winning short story from Mary Watson’s collection called Moss (published 2004), this is a performance work about families and the secrets that they hide. Set in Redhill, Cape Town, before the forced removals, we take a look behind ‘closed doors’ and uncover one family’s secrets. “It is a powerfully written narrative that works skillfully through a child’s imagination to suggest a world of insights about familial and social relationships in the new South Africa.” said the chair of judges Dr Nana Wilson-Tagoe, in announcing the award in 2006; “It is superbly written and does what a short story should do, by leaving spaces around its narrative into which readers can enter again and again.” Born in Cape Town, A seasoned academic with a PhD and two Masters degrees to her name, Watson currently resides in Ireland, where she pursues writing of a creative nature. “I love how theatre draws together different creative talents and I’m excited to see my story reimagined on stage,” says Mary Watson, in South Africa to promote her debut novel.

Mary Watson
Mary Watson
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Commissioned and directed by the Naledi-acknowledged Best Director and Standard Bank Award winning Jade Bowers, in association with Festival Theaterformen and the National Arts Festival Grahamstown; the adaptation of ‘JungFrau’ for stage is being done by talented writer and performer Ameera Patel who has much in common with Watson. Patel is herself a published novelist (Outside the Lines, 2014), award-winning playwright (Whistle Stop, 2014) and graduate of UCT as well as of the University of the Witwatersrand Masters in Creative Writing programme (through which her debut novel was written). Patel ,who will also play the character of ‘Jessica’ in this stage version, is drawn to strong family narratives, and particularly stories of the South African context. She explains the appeal of working with words in a theatrical context, thus: “Through the relationship between the word and the body, a new language is formed. This new language works specifically well when delving into family relationships, where because of the familiarity there is so much that isn’t said, but is definitely understood”.

JungFrau will debut in Germany, at the 2018 Braunschweig iteration of the international contemporary theatre showcase Festival Theaterformen; before making its South African debut at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Bookings have opened for both Festivals.

Watson’s latest literary accomplishment, ‘The Wren Hunt’, has been described by the Guardian as “a magical YA debut”, in which two factions battle for survival in this complex and slippery tale of ancient spells cast in contemporary Ireland; and was released earlier this year.

‘The Wren Hunt’ is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, which is represented by Jonathan Ball Publishers in South Africa. (ISBN: 9781408884935)

‘Outside the Lines’ is published locally by Modjaji Books and in Europe (German translation) by Unionsverlag. (ISBN: 9781928215127)

Click here to book for TheaterFormen and here to book for National Arts Festival.

On Social Media: @stonemadonna @ameerapatel @jadebowers @festivaltheaterformen @theatreformen @artsfestival

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