The Bard and dance in the park

Detail from KickstArt’s poster for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to be staged at the Durban Botanic Gardens amphitheatre from July 23.

……BY BILLY SUTER……

FOLLOWING the success of award-winning theatre company KickstArt’s recent sellout season of its revival of Charlotte’s Web at Durban’s Botanic Gardens amphitheatre, the same outdoor setting is soon to accommodate two more entertainment events.

KickstArt, in association with Durban Botanic Gardens Trust, will stage a production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 6.30pm nightly from July 23 to August 2 (no show Monday, July 26),

Before that, however, Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company, in association with Durban Botanic Gardens Trust, will stage Park Dances #2, with special guest, Kathak dancer Manesh Maharaj – at 4.30pm today and again on June 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. This follows the success of the first Park Dances programme at Botanic Gardens earlier in the year.

Directed by Steven Stead and designed by Greg King, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will feature Stead (Oberon, Theseus), Belinda Henwood (Titania, Hippolyta), Mthokozisi Zulu (Puck), Lyle Buxton (Demetrius), Cara Roberts (Hermia) and Bryan Hiles (Lysander).

Also in the cast are Jessica Sole (Helena), Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson (Bottom), Clare Mortimer (Peta Quince), Blessing Xaba, Daisy Spencer, Mpilo ‘Straw’ Nzimande, Michael Gritten (The Mechanicals), Kirsty Ndawu, Pavishen Paideya, Sanele Mzinyane, Evashne Pillay (The Fairies) and Darren King (Egeus).

Shakespeare’s enchanted comedy is a classic tale of mistaken lovers, mischievous fairies and hilariously muddled amateur actors. It has been described as a laugh-out-loud, blissfully romantic comedy. 

Seating for the play – which runs about two hours and 20 minutes (with a 15-minute interval) – is unreserved, but will be allocated according to responsible social distancing regulations on arrival at the venue.

Seating capacity is 150 people. Tickets cost R180 (R150 for under-12s and pensioners). There are no discounts or concessions. Booking is at Computicket.

The outdoor venue will open 45 minutes prior to the performance for BYO cocktails, picnic suppers and hot drinks.

Note that tickets may be fully refunded or exchanged for other performances in the event of cancellation caused by Covid-19 or bad weather

Getting back to Park Dances # 2 – this event highlights Flatfoot Dance Company and Kathak maestro Manesh Maharaj performing to the haunting poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi, and celebrating the seamless confluence of ancient and contemporary African and Indian rhythms.

Members of Durban’s Flatfoot dance company in a scene from the first season of Park Dances.

Tickets cost R100 each and must be booked and paid for in advance – there are no door sales. To book contact Clare at flatfootdancecompany@gmail.com

The hour-long event has been collaboratively created by Maharaj and the full company: Sifiso Khumalo, Jabu Siphika, Lliane Loots, Zinhle Nzama, Mthoko Mkhwanazi, Sbonga Ndlovu, Siseko Duba, Ndumiso Dube.

This is a family-friendly performance and audiences may take along picnics and blankets. Entrance opens at 4pm for patrons to settle in, enjoy a picnic or a stroll around the gardens before the show begins at 4.30pm.

There is ample safe parking at the main Botanic Gardens Visitors’ Complex entrance. All Covid-19 safety protocols are in place, and masks must be worn. There is a maximum audience of 100 per show with demarcated areas to sit.


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