Mannville 40th birthday at PE Opera House
The PE Opera House has come to the rescue of the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival’s Antony and Cleopatra this month.
As the popular open-air venue, Mannville in St George’s Park, has been vandalised, management at the PE Opera House has made its main theatre available to the PESF for a season of Antony and Cleopatra that will run from February 14 to 18 at 7pm, with a 3pm matinee on February 19.
Direction of this PE premiere of the play is by returning home town boy, Themi Venturas, who cut his theatrical teeth in the Friendly City, but has long been a pillar of the KwaZulu-Natal performing arts scene.
It is thus fitting that he should direct this anniversary production as he first appeared as Adrian in Leslie French’s production of The Tempest at Mannville 39 years ago.
He subsequently played in Macbeth, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night at the leafy venue, mostly directed by the legendary late Helen Mann, whom he regards as his muse and mentor.
Themi was also the founder of the PESF Young’Uns, with whom he first flexed his directing muscles. Since leaving PE, and settling in Durban, he has established himself as one of this country’s leading directors, returning to PE regularly with many of his own company’s presentations.
Themi has also directed three of the last 40 Shakespeares in the Park and is particularly remembered for his innovative productions of Hamlet and Macbeth.
The play stars Helen Flax as Cleopatra and Andrew Horne as Antony, changing performing pace and style, since they both claimed Showtime Best Actress and Actor in a Play Awards earlier this month for their hilarious work in the Pemads farce, Don’t Dress for Dinner, last year.
Supporting them are Mannville stalwarts Jeremy Baylis and Andre Lemmer as Enobarbus and Lepidus, while the role of Octavius Caesar will be taken by newcomer Andrew White.
The relatively young cast promises energy, auguring well for the next 40 years of Shakespeare in PE.
.. It was the great Andre Huguenet who once said, many years ago, in a curtain speech after a production of King Lear on the PE Opera House stage: “I look forward to the day when Port Elizabeth will be known as Stratford on Baakens!” and, since then, the annual celebration of Shakespeare in the Park has become a PE institution.
The Venturas production of the classic love story takes place against a modern setting in which both Rome and Egypt are stylistic ideas rather than actual places, with Rome being a place of businesslike, disciplined restraint, whilst Egypt is a hedonistic, sensuous and relaxed contrast that seduces Antony and his men away from the ‘stuck up’ Rome.
Within this intriguing milieu one of history’s most famous and tempestuous love stories plays out – a love story that turns the world on its head.
With an audio-visual backdrop using all the latest technology, patrons will see messengers appearing through Skype and battles being reported by CNN, bringing the production an air of immediacy and contemporary relevance.
Antony Cleopatra appropriately opens on February 14, Valentine’s day, and offers couples a unique and romantic classical evening at the theatre.
School block bookings are available for the Sunday matinee and interested teachers should call Helen Wilkins on 041 581 1789.
ANTONY and CLEOPATRA, starring Andrew Horne and Helen Flax, directed by Themi Venturas, PE Opera House, February 14 to 18 at 7pm, with matinee February 19, at 3pm. Admission R50 (adults), R25 (children) at the door – unreserved seating.
Article source: http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=29154