Scrapbook: Fugard, Paul and Tony

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Scrapbook memories… every now and then BILLY SUTER dips into scrapbooks that piled up during his 24 years as Arts Editor of The Mercury newspaper in Durban (he took early retirement in December 2016) and, just for fun, dig out reviews and interviews from yesteryear. Today he glances back at articles from 1998 and 1999.
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IT’S back to 1998 and 1999 for more Durban theatre memory-making, as we flip through my scrapbooks from The Mercury to revisit interviews with acclaimed guitarist-composer Tony Cox (now newly relocated, with his family, to the UK) and actor-scriptwriter Paul Slabolepszy (whose latest film, Mr Johnson, premieres in South Africa this month).

The clippings of these two interviews are both pictured above, while pictured at the bottom of this post is the clipping of my March 1999 review of a production of Athol Fugard’s Master Harold and the Boys, which ran at the now-defunct KwaSuku Theatre in a renovated church in Greyville.

Directed by Jacky Vermaas and starring a very young John van de Ruit (who went on to author the Spud series of novels, of course), this production of Master Harold and the Boys also featured Nathi Kunene and Dominic Fundum. It marked the first professional staging of the Fugard classic, in Durban, since March 1994, when Murray McGibbon staged it at the Playhouse Drama – and, for his efforts, received that year’s FNB Vita award as best director.

The March 1999 Slabolepszy interview was conducted while he was starring at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in his hit, cricket-themed play Life’s a Pitch, and before the release, in September that year, of his hit movie Heel Against the Head, based on his play of the same title.

Interestingly, Slabolepzy’s latest film, Mr Johnson, has its South African premiere on DStv BoxOffice on September 4 this year, after having done well at a number of film festivals overseas.

The film has Slabolepszy as David Johnson, who wakes from a 47-year coma at the age of 73. He has a hard time dealing with his aged body and the fact that he has missed out on more than half his life. But as he slowly makes his way into a strange new world, his youthful exuberance is undimmed and, with a little prodding, he tackles life, and love, with the energy of his 26-year-old self.  With the help of a kindly internet café assistant, he tracks down his college sweetheart, Helena McCarthy (Jana Cilliers).

The Tony Cox interview was conducted in December 1988, when Cox, Steve Newman and Chris Tokolan were performing at Durban’s KwaSuka Theatre in Don’t Tune Us, We’ll Tune You. It was a fun interview, highlights including Cox relating an embarrassing moment that involved his bright yellow undies being exposed during a performance.

Cox recently released a new album, The World Went Quiet. The hardcopy CD and flashdrive versions are available from: https://www.tonycox.co.za. A high-quality download is available from: www.tonycox.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-went-quiet


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