Tagged: Valleys Kids

Review of Cape Town Production: Torchbearers

Torchbearers -full cast  + choir + musicians in Cape Town

Torchbearers -full cast + choir + musicians in Cape Town

“The words are theirs, the dream is ours” the Zulu narrator of Torchbearers calls out. His words reverberate through different generations and across diverse cultures as we piece together the
story of two star-crossed lovers from very different walks of life.

Last night’s show of Torchbearers at the Artscape Theatre blew me away. Not only was the acting incredible from the diverse cast of South African and Welsh performers; but the story, the costumes, the choreography – everything was awe-inspiring.

The musical tells the story of two young lovers: Thembesile, a young Zulu girl, and Gerwyn, a Welsh actor, who meet on the set of the 1964 classic film, Zulu, in Johannesburg. The two fall in love but are torn asunder by apartheid and destined never to see one another again. Although they spend years apart and lead completely separate lives, their longing for one another never diminishes and we share their hope of a future together. We experience not only their past but also how it shapes their present and future. We watch as their children and grandchildren grow up in the same world they did but experience it differently due to the immense changes that have occurred since their own youth.

Without exception all the actors did a brilliant job, but the two leads, Zoliswa Euphonia Kawe and Nathan Sussex, did a particularly remarkable job reliving the memories and showcasing the hurt and loss their characters both experienced in their lives.

This beautiful story was written and directed by Laurence Allan who was inspired by his own experiences watching Zulu as a child. With the help of Valleys Kids, a community development charity, his intention was to unite the youth of the South Wales Valleys (one of the most deprived areas in Europe) with South Africa’s townships through a blend of acting, circus performance, dance, music and song. And he has succeeded superbly. This hodge podge of creativity blends together to create a truly beautiful work of art that celebrates and brings together two very diverse cultures.

And it’s this amazing combination of all forms of creativity that calls upon the skills of many local South African companies. The dancers are from the local upliftment project Dance For All and, choreographed by Christoper Kindo, they effortlessly dominate the stage encapsulating the raw emotion of the actors, providing a beautiful backdrop to all the scenes. Combined with the stylised sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the alluring vocals of the Fezeka Voice choir and the amazing feats of the Zip Zap Circus School, this show has it all. Rich in cultural history and a beautiful fusion of two cultures, this heartfelt story shouldn’t be missed.

REVIEW by Claire Pokorchak
- What’s On in Cape Town

Torchbearers was at the Artscape Theatre 8 – 11 November 2012.

South Africa , Wales – Mzansi Cymru

Grand finale of Cultural Olympiad production of Torchbearers

A Smörgåsbord of Welsh & South African talent

 

Waiting for the Olympic Torch in Treorchy

Waiting for the Olympic Torch in TreorchyCommunity development charity, Valleys Kids, gave me the experience of a lifetime and a challenge that became a pinnacle of Alpine proportions. Firstly as a writer, to create a piece with a cast of hundreds that would span two countries, Wales and South Africa, and would fill my every waking moment for four years.

Community development charity, Valleys Kids, gave me the experience of a lifetime and a challenge that became a pinnacle of Alpine proportions. Firstly as a writer, to create a piece with a cast of hundreds that would span two countries, Wales and South Africa, and would fill my every waking moment for four years.

Somehow on a vertical ride over Llanwonno mountain, I plucked an idea out of Valley altitude that included Zulu, Nelson Mandela and the London Olympics that gathered momentum and rolled into a spectacular piece of theatre on the Donald Gordon stage, WMC in Cardiff and Artscape theatre in Cape Town.

For me, the simple but hugely ambitious idea ballooned and blossomed into a runaway vehicle for talents and skills I was barely aware I possessed, let alone had the confidence to use.

Firstly, my comfort zone as a writer was exploded, when in the blink of a scene shift I had to adapt from writing for five actors to writing for a youth theatre, two circus groups, three dance groups, giant puppets, professional actors from Wales and South Africa and the lyrics for a specially written song cycle .

I took my mind off this task by also taking on the role of Artistic Co-ordinator, mainly as I was the only person who pretended to fully understand the whole concept and premise of the project. When the wood was closing in on the trees, I diverted attention from my growing deficiencies by deciding that I would also be overall Artistic Director of the piece. I only got away with this act of outrageous megalomania by surrounding myself with experts in every field and now and then standing on a box and declaiming in a vaguely inspirational fashion like a Welsh Genghis Khan. Lame attempts at being funny also helped. That, and having several friends and members of your family was also a bonus.

In the end it was hugely uplifting, unbearably emotional, physically exhausting, sporadically traumatic, ceaselessly surprising, fundamentally life- changing. It was something you couldn’t repeat, and something I would do again tomorrow.