May 2017 looks like a wonderful month to be in Cape Town, not only for the beautiful autumn days but also for some real jewels on the cultural calendar, especially for theatre lovers. The stand-out event is The Cradle of Creativity, an international festival of theatre for young people. Part of the ASSITEJ World Congress, the festival will be happening in various city venues from 16 to 27 May. Companies from South Africa and all over the world will present 64 shows, catering for every age from babies to teenagers. Work for babies and pre-schoolers will be concentrated at the Baxter Theatre, for primary-school children at the City Hall and for teens at Artscape.
Coinciding with the festival, a new family musical called Tiger Bay has its world premier at Artscape from 20 to 27 May. It is a collaboration between Cape Town Opera and the Wales Millennium Centre and transfers to the UK later in the year. The creative team is an amazingly high-powered assembly, including director Melly Still, choreographer Kenneth Tharp and designer Anna Fleischle among others. The story by Michael Williams is set in Wales in the early 1900s, in the docks of Cardiff, “at a time when coal was king.” The talented cast will be joined by an ensemble of local children performing as the Water Boys, a gang of street children.
More good theatre is in store with In Bocca Al Lupo on at the Alexander Bar from 29 May to 10 June. Book early for this one - this is its second run in just a few months and first time round the tickets sold out in a flash. Jemma Kahn attracted many fans with her first kamishibai show The Episcene Butcher, and this one completes a trilogy in the same genre. Kamishibai is an ancient Japanese art form, in which the story-telling performance is illustrated with hand drawn storyboards. In Bocca Al Lupo is directed by Jane Taylor, co-written by Jemma Kahn and Tertius Kapp and features Kahn’s artwork as well as her brilliant storytelling. In it she ventures into the newly autobiographical territory, an account of her time travelling the world and trying to work out what to do with her life. She manages to be painfully honest about very difficult times and hilariously funny at the same time. This one is decidedly for adults: “A candid and epic personal journey across three continents and using four storyboards. Includes Japanese music festivals, sexy Catholics, and octopus biltong. So, you know, viewer discretion advised.” www.jemmakahn.com/theatre/in-bocca-al-lupo/
At the Fugard Theatre two plays continue into May, Funny Girl - the musical and Hemelsruim, the Afrikaans translation of British play Constellations which won awards and raves on the West End and Broadway (performed here with English subtitles).
At Artscape, Athol Fugard’s My Children, My Africa, centres around a confrontation between a young man and his teacher about how to end apartheid in South Africa. This content dates it, but the themes remain very topical. This run is aimed at school audiences with daytime shows from 4 to 13 May.
Finally, for music lovers, The Collective at the Alexander Bar on Sunday 21 May brings together an exciting line-up of South African jazz musicians: Al Petersen, Maya Spector, Heinrich Frans, Andre Swartz, Sibusiso Matsimela, Zhivago Hagan, Nigel Cupido plus surprise guest appearances on the night.