MIES JULIE Makes American Premiere at St. Ann's Warehouse, 11/8-12/2
Mies Julie was the hands-down, must-see hit and Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award-winner at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Building upon a rich history of importing standout Edinburgh productions and major international companies to America in recent years, St. Ann's Warehouse (Artistic Director, Susan Feldman; Executive Director, Andrew D. Hamingson) will present this American Premiere (and the Baxter Theatre Centre's American debut), which adapts the August Strindberg classic to post-apartheid South Africa. Performances will take place November 8 – December 2, marking the official opening of the new St. Ann's Warehouse at 29 Jay Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Critics are welcome as of the 3:00 P.M. performance on Saturday, November 10 for an official opening on Monday, November 12. Please note: Mies Julie contains strong adult themes and nudity, and is recommended for audiences 16 and up.
Mies Julie is written and directed by Yael Farber, based on August Strindberg's Miss Julie, and produced by the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town (CEO and Artistic Director, Lara Foot) in association with South African State Theatre. In the smoldering kitchen of a remote estate 18 years after the election of Nelson Mandela, a single night, both brutal and tender, unfolds among a black farm laborer (John, played by Bongile Mantsai), his "master's" daughter (Julie, played by Hilda Cronje), and the woman who has raised them both (Christine, played by Thoko Ntshinga). The visceral struggles of contemporary South Africa are revealed as a deadly attraction spirals out of control between John and Julie who battle over power, sexuality, mothers and the land. Haunting and violent, intimate and heartbreaking, the struggles take place among the characters and with their ancestors, laying bare questions of what restitution and freedom can really mean and what losses can and cannot ever be recovered.
The production features sound design and music written, and performed live on stage, by the brothers Daniel Pencer (saxophone, electronics) and Matthew Pencer (laptop, live foley, sound effects). The traditional Xhosa musician Tandiwe Nofirst Lungisa sings and plays multiple instruments, and figures as a ghostly ancestral presence in the cast. Patrick Curtis designed the set and lighting and Birrie le Roux designed the costumes.
In addition to the Best of Edinburgh distinction, Mies Julie won the Edinburgh Fringe First and Herald Angel Awards. The Scotsman called the show "a runaway hit," The Independent's four-star review said it "thrums with menace and passion" and deemed it "electrifying," and The New York Times described it as "raw and unapologetic in dealing with both the lingering political wounds and the sexual dynamics between the two central characters." St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman found the production so captivating that, just two weeks after she saw it at the festival, St. Ann's made a deal to bring Mies Julie and the Baxter Theatre Company to New York as the inaugural production at 29 Jay St.
The Baxter's Mies Julie is the latest of numerous stellar shows and International Artists St. Ann's Warehouse has introduced to New York audiences following immense acclaim in Edinburgh: The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch and Beautiful Burnout; Druid's productions of Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope; Daniel Kitson's The Interminable Suicide of Gregory Church and It's Always Right Now, Until It's Later.
Mies Julie premiered at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, and was produced in association with the National State Theatre, Pretoria.
Tickets are $40- $75 and are available online at www.stannswarehouse.org and by phone at 718.254.8779 (Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.) or 866.811.4111 (extended hours Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M.). They can also be purchased at the St. Ann's Warehouse Box Office at 29 Jay Street (Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.).
St. Ann's Warehouse season Memberships are also available now. In addition to the opportunity to buy ahead of the general public for all shows, Members benefit from exclusive discounts, waived service fees, and ticket exchange privileges. Beginning at $50 and completely tax-deductible, Memberships are available at www.stannswarehouse.org and 718.254.8779 (Tuesday–Saturday, 1–7PM).
ABOUT THE CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM
Yael Farber (Writer/Director) is a native South African and multiple award-winning director and playwright of international acclaim. Her productions have toured the world extensively in the last ten years, earning her a reputation for hard-hitting, controversial works of the highest artistic standarD. Farber studied drama at Wits University in the early 90s, graduating with an Honors Degree. She was named as Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year in South Africa (2003). She is the recipient of three national Best Director Awards (South Africa 1991, 2002, 2008). Internationally, her work has won a Sony Gold Award (London 2001), The Scotsman Fringe First Award twice (Edinburgh 2000 & 2012), The Angel Herald Award twice (Edinburgh 2003 & 2012), and The Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award (Edinburgh 2012). She has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award (NYC 2007), and a TMA Best Director Award (UK 2008). Her productions have toured across the major cities of the USA, the UK (including London's West End and The Barbican Centre), Canada, Australia, Japan, across Europe and Africa. They include works such as: A Woman In Waiting, Amajuba, He Left Quietly, Sezar, MoLoRa and Kadmos. These shows continue to tour internationally under her company The Farber Foundry. Farber is currently Head of the Directing Programme at The National Theatre School of Canada (Montreal). She is an accomplished playwright and has written most of the works she has directed in the last decade. Her plays are published by Oberon Books (London, UK).
Bongile Mantsai (John) is an actor, dancer and musical director, whose work began at the Phambili Theatre Project in 1997. His theater credits include Big Dada, House of Holy Afro, Orfeus, Amaza, Karoo Moose, Woyzeck and Lovaffair. He was the musical director of Medea, Udaba Bafazi and the exclusive women's club, Karoo Moose and Woyzeck, amongst others. Mantsai won the 2007 Aardklop Best Actor in an Ensemble award for Karoo Moose, and was also nominated for the 2009/10 Naledi Theatre Awards. He received the 2010 Fleur du Cap Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the Drum Major in Woyzeck. Last year he performed in Vocal is Lekka, and earlier this year he was seen in Did We Dance: Ukutshona ko Mendi (The Sinking of the Mendi). He is PRO of the Baxter's Zabalaza Theatre festival.
Hilda Cronje (Julie) grew up on a rural family farm in Natal with a love of the arts, before going on to study drama, musical theater and various genres of dance at the Waterfront Theatre School. She is also a qualified drama teacher, having graduated with triple honours in 2006. She started her professional career "acting" as a National Corporate Trainer for a below-the-line marketing company, TCC, in Johannesburg, before pursuing a life on stage.
She enjoyed playing Meisie die Meerkat, shooting over 400 episodes of the kids' show Bundu Buddies for KykNet. She then went on to stage manage The Incredible History of Dr Faustus at the Civic Centre in Johannesburg and traveled to Brazil in 2008, working on They Look at Me and Plasticisation by Nelisiwe Xaba. What followed was a period of paying her dues, doing children's theater, industrial theater and corporate theater across South Africa. She moved back to Cape Town in 2009 and began work on various TV series and commercials. She has also created her own environmental play, The Adventures of Sam Swallow, which will tour in 2013.
Her theater highlights include acting opposite theatre veteran Nicholas Ellenbogen in Raiders, and doing a twisted Afrikaans drama, Die Trane van Petrus Pansegrou, directed by Charles Fourie at the KKNK.
Thoko Ntshinga (Christine) studied Communications and Practical English through Unisa. She later completed a diploma in Business Management and Administration at Damelin. She has a Master's Degree in Theatre for Development. She spent three years lecturing at the University of Cape Town, where she ploughed back skills learnt through all the years in theatre.
Ntshinga has more than 35 years' experience in television and stage work. Plays include The Good Woman of Sharkeville, Born in the RSA, Curl Up and Dye and Nongogo. Films include A Reasonable Man, A Dry White Season, Taxi to Soweto and The Bird Can't Fly. Her television credits include Velaphi and Egoli, as well as Iingcinga, for which she won an award. She developed and directed the Grade 12 drama setwork Amaza. Her awards include the City Press/Rapport Prestige 2000 Award (one of South Africa's most inspirational women), Corbet/Langa Award for uplifting the community through outstanding achievement in Dramatic Art 1997, Artes Award for Best Actress in a dramatic work, Iingcinga, in 1993 and the Artistic Recognition of Excellence Award in Harlem, USA, in 1988. She was a trustee of the Arts and Culture Trust of the President from 1999 to 2000.
In 2002 Ntshinga was appointed the coordinator for the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, where she was tasked with the management of all programme output involved with art. She is a partner at Waterfront Television and a founder member of the Langa-based organisation Nants'ingqayi Arts Development.
Tandiwe Nofirst Lungisa (ancestor, singer and musician) is widely considered a master musician. She was trained in traditional Xhosa music by her mother, and plays the uHadi bow, umnibhe, inkinge and Jewish harp. A grandmother of twelve children and mother of five children, she is a widow, living with her family in the Transkei. She is a key member of the Ngqoko Cultural Group, a body of men and women committed to the indigenous music, songs and traditions of the rural Xhosa communities. Hailing from the humble town of Lady Frere, the Cultural Group was first formed in 1980 and, over the years, has become well known in South Africa. The group is regularly invited to perform internationally, and has toured the Middle East and Europe. The Ngqoko Cultural Group has established a reputation as guardians of the rural Xhosa culture, maintaining the survival and presence of indigenous South African music and instruments. They played the Greek Chorus in Yael Farber's Oresteia adaptation Molora, which has toured internationally over the last eight years.
Daniel Pencer (sound designer, composer and musician) is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and improviser who creates sounds with immense adaptive capability. He holds a Music Performance degree from the University of Toronto and received a fellowship to study Hindustani Classical Clarinet and Bansuri in Lucknow, India. Pencer has developed a unique improvisatory style combining acoustic sound and electronics. He is currently studying at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. He and his brother Matthew have worked together for years on numerous musical projects, and this production of Mies Julie is their second collaboration with Yael Farber.
Matthew Pencer (sound designer, composer and musician) uses a laptop as his primary instrument. His palette includes sampled sounds, bits of songs and pieces of favorite recordings, sometimes processed beyond recognition. Improvising with live audio processing software, he attempts to combine new technologies and experimental improvisational approaches to create richness of feel. Matthew has worked as a radio producer, a theater sound designer and a recording artist. He currently lives and works in Canada.
Patrick Curtis (set and lighting designer) began lighting drama and music in the mid-eighties at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, where he also produced several set designs. He worked at CAPAB (now Artscape) from 1990 to 1995 as Drama production manager, where he designed the lighting for many drama productions. After the demise of CAPAB Drama he joined UCT and taught lighting and set design at the Little Theatre. In the past nine years as the Production Manager of the Baxter Theatre Centre he has lit and designed sets for numerous productions. For Cape Town Opera and UCT Opera School he designed the lighting for Don Giovanni at the Baxter Theatre Centre and Rigoletto at the Joseph Stone Auditorium, Athlone. He has won two Fleur du Cap awards for set design, Uncle Vanya/Oom Wanja in 2004 and Betrayal in 2006. He was nominated for a Fleur du Cap award for his design of Lara Foot's Solomon and Marion. Most recently he designed the set for Doodsnikke.
Birrie le Roux (costume designer) has had a career in both film and theater since finishing her degree in Theatre Design thirty years ago at Pretoria University, under Neels Hansen and Hans Nel. Working in theater mostly as a costume designer, she designs opera, ballet, musicals and drama. Le Roux worked on The Boys in the Photograph at the Nelson Mandela Theatre. She designed costumes for the Cape Town Opera production of Show Boat, which has traveled to various cities in Germany and Sweden over the last few years.
In the four years that she worked at the Cape Performing Arts Council (CAPAB), she won three awards for costume design, for Merchant of Venice, A Long Day's Journey into Night and Good. Theatre productions in recent years include Uncle Vanya/Oom Wanja, Begeerte, Boytjie and the Oubaas, Twelfth Night, Reach and most recently, Doodsnikke. Ballet and opera productions include Carnival of the Animals, Medea and La Boheme, to name a few.
In her early career, Birrie also worked at the Space Theatre, Cape Town, where she was involved with various fringe and protest theatre-making projects and was affiliated with the Glass Theatre, an avant-garde theater, where she was responsible for the costumes for a production of Othello. She designed costumes for film and television until she decided to concentrate on production design in film.
Lara Foot (Producer, Baxter Theatre Centre) was born and grew up in Pretoria. In 2005 Foot relocated to Cape Town to take up the position of Resident Director and Dramaturg at the Baxter, a post she held until 2007. In January 2010 she was appointed CEO and Artistic Director.
Foot has directed over 40 professional productions, 29 of which have been new South African plays. She was the founder of the Barney Simon Young Directors and Writers Festivals and her passion is the development of new indigenous work, young writers and directors. In 1996, Foot was made Resident Director of the Market Theatre, and from 1998 to 2000 held the position of Associate Artistic Director there. In 2004 she won the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Theatre award and worked with the celebrated director Sir Peter Hall for a year. Foot has also become involved in film, writing and co-directing the interdisciplinary short film And There in the Dust, which won five international awards and two Golden Horn awards. She was selected to be part of the Sundance Film Writers' Lab in 2007 and the Sundance Film Directors' Lab in 2008.
Her four plays Tshepang, Hear And Now, Reach and Karoo Moose have all toured internationally with great success and are published by Wits Press and Oberon books. Foot has won numerous awards over the years, including the Fleur du Cap Award for Outstanding Young Director (1992), National Vita Award (shared with Athol Fugard) for Best Director (1994), Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award (1995), Fleur du Cap Award for Best New South African Play for Tshepang (2003), Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative Award (2004), mentored by Sir Peter Hall, Golden Globe Best Short Film Award (2006), the Milan Film Festival Best Short Film award (2006), Aardvark Award for Most Innovative Production for Karoo Moose (2007), four Fleur du Cap awards for Karoo Moose, including Best New Play and Best Director (2008), White Ribbon Award for Women in South Africa Who Make a Difference (2008), eight Naledi Awards for Karoo Moose, including Best New South African Play and Best Director (2009), and the Standard Bank Ovation Silver Award for theatre at the 2010 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown. In 2010 she directed a new version of Georg Büchner's classic play Woyzeck, based on the adaptation by Daniel Kramer, which received a 2010 Fleur du Cap Award. Last year, Foot's production of Solomon and Marion garnered considerable acclaim, and she received the Fleur du Cap award for Best New South African Play.
About the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town
This year, the Baxter Theatre Centre at the University of Cape Town celebrates 35 years of offering top quality, award-winning theatre and entertainment to the people of South Africa. The dream of the theatre was first revealed in the will of the late Dr William Duncan Baxter in 1960 and it has become a splendid reality of that generous bequest. Dr Baxter stipulated: "For all the people of Cape Town …utilise this bequest for the purpose of developing and cultivating the arts. This could, I am satisfied, best be done by establishing a theatre in Cape Town in which plays, operas, ballets, concerts and other forms of entertainment can be given."
Throughout the years of apartheid the Baxter Theatre Centre remained open to everyone, thriving by drawing on indigenous talent and creating a uniquely South African theatre while incorporating a wide variety of performing arts. At the forefront of the performing arts both as a popular venue and as a leading award-winning producer, it continues to present cutting-edge, contemporary and classic works as well as masterpieces from the local and international repertoires. Top directors work with a host of well-known and respected theatre, television and film actors to ensure an exciting and diverse line-up all year round. Exhibiting an interesting and unique design aesthetic, the modern theatre complex continues to be a vibrant cultural hub pulsating with the finest in South African theatre. It lives by its philosophy of creating a dynamic forum for the celebration of life - the essence of live theatre, music and dance.
Firmly rooted as a landmark in the student suburb of Rondebosch, it holds many memories for more than eight million visitors who have attended shows over the years, making it one of the busiest independent theatres in Africa. Each year well over 500,000 patrons attend over 1,500 performances, living the Baxter vision that its productions will cater for audiences which reflect all the people of South Africa. The artistic programme includes quality theatre incorporating drama, comedy, musicals and dance, as well as jazz and classical music. In addition, community development projects, arts festivals and workshops entertain and educate the diverse communities that visit the Centre.
About St. Ann's Warehouse
For over 30 years, St. Ann's has commissioned, produced and presented an eclectic body of innovative theater and concert presentations that meet at the intersection of theater and rock and roll. Since 2001, the organization has helped vitalize the emerging Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood, DUMBO, where St. Ann's Warehouse has become one of New York City's most important and compelling live performance destinations. After twelve years at 38 Water Street, St. Ann's has activated a new warehouse at 29 Jay, which will be home for the next three years, while the organization designs and raises funds to adapt the Tobacco Warehouse in Brooklyn Bridge Park into a thriving cultural center.
Through its signature multi-artist concerts and groundbreaking music/theater collaborations, St. Ann's Warehouse has become the artistic home for the American avant-garde, international companies of stature and award-winning emerging artists. Highly acclaimed landmark productions include Lou Reed's and John Cale's Songs for 'Drella; Marianne Faithfull's Seven Deadly Sins; Artistic Director Susan Feldman's Band in Berlin; Charlie Kaufman and the Coen Brothers' Theater of the New Ear; The Royal Court Theater's 4:48 Psychosis; The Globe Theatre of London's Measure for Measure; Druid Company's The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom and Penelope; Enda Walsh's Misterman, featuring Cillian Murphy; Lou Reed's Berlin; the National Theater of Scotland's acclaimed Black Watch; and Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter. St. Ann's has championed such artists as The Wooster Group, Jeff Buckley, Cynthia Hopkins, Enda Walsh, Emma Rice, and Daniel Kitson.
St. Ann's Warehouse has been awarded the Ross Wetzsteon OBIE Award for the development of new work. The OBIE Award Committee honored St. Ann's for "inviting artists to treat their cavernous DUMBO space as both an inspiring laboratory and a sleek venue where its super-informed audience charges the atmosphere with hip vitality."