Lara Foot's FISHERS OF HOPE (TAWARET) at the Baxter Flipside Until 2 August

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Philip Dikotla, Shaun Oelf and Mncedisi Shabangu in FISHERS OF HOPE
Philip Dikotla, Shaun Oelf and Mncedisi
Shabangu in FISHERS OF HOPE (TAWARET)
Photo credit: Oscar O' Ryan

Following its success at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, writer-director Lara Foot's latest play, FISHERS OF HOPE (TAWARET) has opened at the Baxter Flipside for a short season through 2 August, with performances at 19:30 nightly.

Acclaimed for her productions of TSHEPANG, KAROO MOOSE, WOYZECK and SOLOMON AND MARION, Foot and her cast brings to life this lyrical African tale which explores the meaning of hope. Inspired by the documentary DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE, the play examines the prospects of hope and livelihood within the African continent. At its heart, it is a beautiful drama which combines the dramatic and the surreal and serves as a metaphor for the world and its capacity for hope. It is the individual characters and their relationships that become the story as every character is faced with life-changing choices which they have to make.Setting the play somewhere in Africa, Foot returns to her signature style through magical realism, physical theatre, textured imagery and a richly entwined soundscape and African score. Earlier this year she spent two weeks on the lakes of Kenya to research the narrative for the play, along with Nina Swart, Masai warrior Miyere Miyandazi and assistant director Mncedisi Shabangu.

Subtitled TAWARET, after the protective ancient mythological Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility, the play is layered with metaphors as it delves into the social and environmental effects on a family and community in a fishing village. The name means "she who is great" or "great one," a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities. The deity is typically depicted as a female hippopotamus, and this becomes a fundamental thread interwoven into the narrative.

Lesedi Job, Mncedisi Shabangu, Shaun Oelf in FISHERS OF HOPE
Lesedi Job, Mncedisi Shabangu and Shaun Oelf
in FISHERS OF HOPE (TAWARET)
Photo credit: Oscar O' Ryan

Widely regarded as one of the highlights of this year's festival, the play has already garnered audience and media acclaim. Dr Theresa Edlmann from Cue, the official festival newspaper called the play "one of the 'must sees' of the Festival - thanks in no small part to passion, sensitivity and soul the directors, cast and crew have brought to this refreshing new piece of theatre." Gayle Edmunds from City Press agreed: "The staging of this mesmerising work is in Foot's usual style, using soundscapes, video and light to accentuate the sense of place, to support the actors' powerful performances." Jaro Kalac (Whats on in Cape Town) said, "FISHERS OF HOPE sets a precedent to local theatre which will be hard to match. An elated Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director of the National Arts Festival, congratulated the team saying, "FISHERS OF HOPE was an enormous success at our festival this year and it certainly got people talking. I am confident that the production will have equal success wherever it tours. Once again Lara Foot has affirmed herself as one of this country's leading theatre-makers."

The cast is led by Mncedisi Shabangu, who played the role of the storyteller in Foot's TSHEPANG, with a dynamic and diverse ensemble comprising Phillip Tipo Tindisa, Lesedi Job, Phillip Dikotla and Cape Town dancer/performer Shaun Oelf. Musician Nceba Gongxeka creates the live soundtrack.

The creative team is made up of Maurice Podbrey from Mopo Productions (co-producer), Patrick Curtis (set design), Benever Arendse (lighting), Grant van Ster (choreography), The Carnell Collective (soundscape), Lesley Nott Manim (voice coach) and Bongile Mantsai (music consultant).

FISHERS OF HOPE runs until 2 August at 19:30, excepting 24 to 26 July. There is a matinee on Saturday 19 July at 2pm. School's performances are at 11am. Ticket prices range from R110 (preview and matinees) to R120 (Monday to Thursday) and R140 over weekends. Schools block bookings are R50. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted block bookings, charities, schools, corporate bookings and fundraisers, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

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