SOLO THEATRE FESTIVAL

The So Solo festival of one-person plays is back and promises a line-up of thought provoking theatre starting 11 September and running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for one month at WITS.

After a successful debut in 2014, the So Solo festival of one-person plays is kicking off its second year with 16 diverse theatre pieces by 16 talented performers, writers and directors, all guaranteed to have audiences enthralled. Established and new talent take to the stages for a month-long feast of stimulating and entertaining theatre. “We have an incredibly rich theatrical tradition in South Africa yet artists struggle to make a living. Theatricals platforms such as So Solo allow us all to participate in understanding and celebrating our own stories,” said Festival Director Gita Pather.

The So Solo commissioned play this year is titled Penny and aptly depicts the life of a 20-something honours graduate who struggles to find work as a TV and theatre performer. The piece is written and directed by MoMo Matsunyane and performed by Zethu Dlomo, both talented Wits graduates themselves. “In this play it really is a slice of life imitating art,” says Pather.

The festival offers an eclectic selection of plays, from comedy to drama, so audiences will be spoilt for choice with something for everyone.

Kafka’s Ape, a Silver Ovation Award winner at the National Arts Festival 2015 was adapted by Phala O. Phala and is based on Franz Kafka’s A Report to An Academy. Using physical theatre to tell the story of the central character, Tony Miyambo gives a convincing performance of an ape to human transformation, provoking deep questions about what it means to be a human being.

Guaranteed to get the audiences laughing is Johnny Boskak Is Feeling Funny which won the highest accolade at the NAF taking away the Golden Ovation awarded to the best production of the fringe. Written by Greig Coetzee, Craig Morris performs in this one-hander, a spin-off to Coetzee’s successful White Men with Weapons. The play tells the story of a ‘white oke’ living in the new South Africa, looking for love, redemption, an AK47 and the quickest way out of Secunda. The play features original music by the late Syd Kitchen.

In Morwa: The Rising Sun, Tefo Paya poignantly portrays a young Motswana man on his journey into manhood. Paya also wrote the play and it is based on his personal experiences as he comes to grips with the challenges faced by young men in Africa. Morwa is directed by Warren Nebe.

Kullid is an adaption of three historical South African Coloured texts: Suip! by Oscar Petersen and Heinrich Reisenhofer, A Coloured Place by Lueen Conning (Malika Ndlovu) and What the Water Gave Me by Rehane Abrahams. Directed by Leonie Ogle and performed by Kelly Eksteen, this one-woman play sheds light on marginalized coloured communities.

From the writer and director of the multi award-winning smash hit Smaarties, Quintin Wils now brings to the stage Suster, the next chapter in the trilogy. Well-known Generations actress Carina Nel is the star in this psychological piece about Sybil, a woman diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, and takes place just after the death of her parents.

Jokes 4 Sale humorously chronicles the lives of black people as seen through the eyes of the play’s creator, writer and performer Phillip M Dikotla. He is inspired by some of the comedic absurdities found in black culture.

Cantos of a Life in Exile explores the displacing effects of cultural, political and social exile as experienced by a South African citizen exiled during Apartheid. It is a theatrical hybrid drawing on indigenous Southern African performance genres, namely iiNgoma (healing rituals), iziBongo (praise poetry) and iintsomi (storytelling). The play is written and performed by Makhaola Siyanda Ndebele.

The dark comedy Nine to Fivers Anthem is directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana and written and performed by Lotanang Makoti. The play provides a cynical look at the office workers nine-to-five existence; everything from debt and long working hours to the loss of dreams and identity.

To Stand Somewhere is both funny and thought provoking. Directed by Moses D. Rasekele and written and performed by Ter Hollmann, the play takes audiences on a humorous journey through the last days of Apartheid into the muddled mess of the Rainbow Nation.

Written and performed by Billy Langa, Ngwedi is an exciting piece of theatre incorporating song, lyrical prose and soliloquys with heightened physical story telling. It tells the tale of a blind man who journeys through time and memory while trying to relocate his spectacles.

Sunday Morningis a stylish thriller about a successful photographer who’s ordered life falls apart when his girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant and he makes a gruesome discovery that changes everything. The play is written by Nick Warren, directed by Jenine Collocott and performed by award-winning actor James Cuningham.

Director Paul Noko’s play Fruit was the 2016 Zabalaza winner and has just finished a much lauded run at the Baxter in Cape Town. A tale about the loss of innocence, Matshediso Mokoteli plays the young girl Matlakala who lives in Diepkloof, a township ravaged by crime and poverty.

Being Norm is a play for all ages taking a comic look at one man’s struggle against the ordinary. Call it fate, karma or bad luck, everything always goes wrong for Norm, despite the extraordinary lengths he goes to in order to succeed. Created and performed by Richard Antrobus, a talented mime and physical theatre performer, it features the voiceover talents of Shaun Acker.

The award-winning Giving Birth to My Father is written and directed by Wiseman Mncube and performed by Lihle Dhlomo. The play deals with imprisonment and freedom through the eyes of a woman who is afraid to walk out of jail after surviving 18 years there with her imagination and not much more. How far will it take her now that she is free?

Broken Plates deals with life, living and reflection depicted in a selection of stories using the plate as a metaphor. This thought provoking play is directed by Loren Rae Nel and written and performed by Renos Nicos Spanoudes.

“So Solo 2015 features an array of stories and diverse genius, younger and older performers, new as well as tried and tested talent. In that mix and diversity, I have no doubt that audiences will be as in awe as I am of the incredible creativity this lineup presents,” says Pather.

The So Solo plays will be performed in the WITS theatre venues from 11 September until 11 October.