The Underground Library for Cradle of Creativity

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The Underground Library - Photo by Nardus Engelbrecht.
The Underground Library – Photo by Nardus Engelbrecht.

Jon Keevy’s The Underground Library premieres at Cradle of Creativity festival, performing at the Artscape Arena Theatre from 26 May to 3 June.

“Khanya is on the verge of getting through matric and out into the world when she crosses paths with a fugitive from the cops. He gives her something forbidden in this future Johannesburg… a book. And this act inadvertently kicks off a race between government agents, terrorists and hackers to get control of the truth.”

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Written by Jon Keevy (Get Kraken, Owl) The Underground Library is a high-energy story which challenges authority and casts a light on current politics by asking what might happen next. It is directed by Koleka Putuma, with sound design by Dylan Owen, costumes by Merryn Carver and features some of Cape Town’s most exciting young performers: Thando Mangcu (winner of the 2017 Emerging Theatre Directors Bursary), Dustin Beck (Kalahari Swan), Maggie Gericke (But, The Land), Tankiso Mamabolo (Black Dog/ Inj’emnyama, The Fall), Cleo Raatus (The Fall, District Six Kanala), and Kathleen Stephens (People are Living There). The Underground Library is supported by ASSITEJ SA and the National Arts Council.

Writer Jon Keevy is passionate about creating theatre for young people. In an interview with TYA Today – Theatre for Young Audiences, a journal based in the US – he said that “artists making theatre for young audiences must make the audience their guiding principle – their artistic impulse must serve the audience. Making theatre for the young is a big responsibility, we have to honour that responsibility. We have to know our audience in a way that other theatre doesn’t have to.”

The success of the play even before its official premiere speaks for itself: in 2016 Jon was part of the New Visions/New Voices 2016 program at the Kennedy Centre. “The group included six artistic teams from US theaters – playwrights, composers, and directors – and nine international playwrights from South Africa, Korea, and India” says Jon. These writers were also part of the inaugural International Playwrights’ Intensive, which was held the week before New Visions/New Voices with the faculty and students of the University of Maryland Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Excitingly, the Intensive and an anthology of plays that had part of their development journey with NV/NV were part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the festival.

Most recently in April 2017, the play was part of the New Play-Reading Festival at The Growing Stage – The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey. One of four finalists for their Laurie Award. Added to this, there was a staged reading of the play at Spinning Dot Theatre in Michigan, as part of their Global Play Project, performed by Teen Apprentices. The play has also been published in English Alive 2017, to be used as part of the English Olympiad this year.

To be part of the premiere of this already much-lauded play, you can see The Underground Library at the Cradle of Creativity on Friday 26 May at 11h30 & 14h30, and Saturday 27 May at 12h00 & 16h00 in Artscape Theatre Centre Arena. There will be a further week of performances from Tuesday 30 May to Saturday 3 June at 19h30 nightly.

The recommended age is 13 years and older, and the show runs at 75 minutes. Tickets start at R50 for children, and R75 for adults. For block bookings of 10 or more, tickets will be R40 each. Bookings can be made via Computicket, and more information on the production can be found at http://www.assitej2017.org.za

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