NOTHING IS HERE. Theatre Arts 2mApart Season. Artistic Director: Robin Kirsten. Theatre Director: Craig Leo. Director of Choreography: Themba Mbuli. Choreography and performance: Andile Vellem and Siphenathi Mayekiso. Puppetry by Ukwanda Puppets and Design Art Collective. Music performed by Godfrey Johnson. Theatre Arts, Observatory.
MEGAN FURNISS reviews
I was verging on delirium as I waited for the theatre doors to open so that I could go inside and experience my first live show in eight months. It was a final dress rehearsal for the first show in Theatre Arts’ 2mApart season of new work since the Covid-19 death of live theatre. This felt like a resurrection.
The venue is used beautifully in this piece. After entering one by one and taking off our shoes and sanitising, we proceeded to a big white dot; our first, socially distanced viewing point of the show.
Everything happens in the centre of the space and Robin Kirsten’s set is a construction of doors and furniture, titled Study for Museum of Opening Doors, that reminded me of Alice’s looking glass; everything at unexpected angles with gaps and slits to see through and past. Complimented with really innovative lighting, strange object puppetry and wonderful music by Godfrey Johnson, the effect was a transformed, magical and very theatrical space.
Mesmerised and engaged
Audience members are given an opportunity to see the same ‘loop’ from three different angles in the room, and each one exposes more of what each performer is doing. This is not 100% successful, in my opinion, because some performers are doing so much more than others, and because the design of the space means that you can see stuff that isn’t directly in front of you, and I watched where the action was. Andile Vellem and Siphenathi Mayekiso do extraordinary, and beautiful things, and the members of the Ukwanda Puppets and Design Art Collective are devoted and focused, but I would have loved it if they had had a bit more to do.
Still, I was mesmerised and engaged and the most happy I have been in a long time to spend 50 minutes in a dark room.
These runs are short. There are only 15 socially distanced tickets per show. There is a new show opening next week – Modorenai. And I caught glimpses of a rehearsal through a doorway this week and even that moved me. I am back in my live and love space.
What: Nothing is Here
Read more: Creating Theatre in the Age of Corona