Edinburgh Hit DARK NOON Comes To St. Ann's Warehouse

Dark Noon is a subversive reimagining of the history of the American West through a carnivalesque vision of the genre that glorified it: the Western.

By: May. 13, 2024
Edinburgh Hit DARK NOON Comes To St. Ann's Warehouse
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St. Ann's Warehouse presents the New York premiere of the breakout hit of 2023's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the fix+foxy production Dark Noon, written and directed by acclaimed Danish director Tue Biering, co-directed and choreographed by South African theater-maker Nhlanhla Mahlangu, and produced by Glynis Henderson Productions, The Pleasance, and Alchemation. 

Dark Noon is a subversive reimagining of the history of the American West through a carnivalesque vision of the genre that glorified it: the Western. They say history is written by the victors. In Dark Noon, history is told by the vanquished.

Dark Noon envisions U.S. history as equal parts grotesque, horrifying, and profound. On an open stage amidst the red dirt of the prairie, the skeleton of a pioneer town is erected in real time by a dynamic cast of seven South African actors. Mahlangu, Biering, and the company collaborated to develop a High Noon-referencing romp through American history via an outsider's view of Hollywood westerns. Familiar characters inhabit the stage: Native Americans, cowboys, missionaries, enslaved Africans, Chinese workers, European settlers, prostitutes, Confederates. Abounding with marvelous stagecraft and slapstick humor, Dark Noon is a spectacular Wild West circus where perspective is personal and any innocent encounter can explode in an instant.

Dark Noon's “extraordinary outsider vision of American history” (The Guardian) evokes the many societies and lands violated by European colonization and capitalism, including South Africa. In the British Theatre Guide podcast, Mahlangu described the play as an alternative to the typical “African history being written by a European gaze.” He continued, “We are inverting this thing in Dark Noon — this is what it looks like when you are writing someone else's history. Can you see how ridiculous it looks? That is why we are so ridiculous when we are inside the world of Dark Noon. The idea of overtly waking up and thinking you deserve everything that is in the hands of someone else, and that kind of psychosis of thinking.”

Biering said, “From the very start there was always this idea of using these mythologies that are connected to Western movies. The idea that most of these stories are on the frontier of civilization, and the moral compass is not in place yet so you are negotiating all the time between the ‘good' and the ‘evil.' So [their storytelling] is very binary and very simple… [It was about] combining these very simple narratives with the idea of talking about something very complex.” 

The cast of Dark Noon includes Bongani Bennedict Masango, Joe Young, Kaygee Letsholonyana, Lillian Tshabalala, Mandla Gaduka, Siyambonga Alfred Mdubeki, and Thulani Zwane.

The creative team includes Tue Biering (Director and Playwright), Nhlanhla Mahlangu (Choreographer and Co-Director), Johan Kølkjær (Set Designer), Ditlev Brinth (Sound Designer), Christoffer Gulløv (Lighting Designer), Marie Rosendahl Chemnitz (Props Designer) Camilla Lind (Costume Designer), Rasmus Kreiner (Video Designer), Katinka Hurvig Møller (Assistant Director), Annette Max Hansen (Producer), Anne Balsma and Thomas Dotzler (Production Managers), Svante Huniche Corell (Stage Manager), Rafael Cañete Fernández and Nanna-Karina Schleimann (Sound Managers & Operators), and Clara Bisgaard (Costumier).

St. Ann's Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman says, “We are delighted to be working with Glynis Henderson Productions, Edinburgh's Pleasance, New York's Alchemation, fix+foxy, and Spoleto Festival USA  to premiere Dark Noon in America. What attracted me most was the humor and sense of play brought to the outrageous, preposterous, and yet deadly notions of TV westerns. (My dad was an avid fan, and we watched them all the time, especially on Sunday nights.) The cartoonish send-up of our violent upbringing, juxtaposed with the lawlessness of our current predicaments, seems a fun way to refocus the lens on who we are, where we're from and how we live. The actors and the audience are having a ball up there on the stage, and the energy is infectious.”

Dark Noon concludes St. Ann's 2023-24 season of potent theatrical dispatches from abroad, comprising the premieres of six transformative theatrical experiences. On its way to St. Ann's, the production stops at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, for five performances, May 31 - June 2.

Dark Noon also continues St. Ann's Warehouse's engagement with inventive and indelible works from South Africa—drawing on the country's tradition of bold and transgressive theater—from this season's beloved J.M. Coetzee adaptation of The Life & Times of Michael K to the searing work by student protesters, The Fall, to Yael Farber's groundbreaking Strindberg adaptation of Mies Julie.

Schedule and Tickets

Tickets for Dark Noon are on sale now and can be purchased at stannswarehouse.org. Performances take place June 7, 8, 11–15, 18–22, 25-29, and July 2, 3, 5, & 6 at 7:30pm; June 9, 16, 23, & 30 at 5pm; and July 4, 6, & 7 at 2pm.


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