New theatre in Shongweni

Mpilo Straw Nzimande and Kaylee McIlroy in a scene from How to Train Your Human. Picture: Val Adamson


WITH theatres closing left, right and centre globally due to the doldrums of Covid-19, what a pleasure to announce a new theatre opening in Durban this month – the Shongweni Theatre at Shongweni Farmers’ and Craft Market.

Currently being built at the market grounds, the theatre will open with a charming new original family show by Durban’s Michael Taylor-Broderick, How to Train Your Human, to run on market days, Saturdays, from December 11 until January 8. Performances will be at 10am and noon..

The idea for the show was sparked after Michael Taylor-Broderick read Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages for Children and the show title is inspired by the popular How to Train your Dragon films and books. 

How to Train your Human tells of a Dragons-in-Training seminar hosted by The Dragon Preservation Society. This seminar focuses on teaching all attending Dragons the skills needed to successfully train their humans. Conducted by two highly respected Dragons, the seminar explores the five love languages to unravel the wonders and mystery of creating a path to the human heart, and other humans around us. As a bonus, for this particular seminar, the two experts will also be working with all the Dragons to help them discover their own unique Dragon love languages.

The dragons are played by physical theatre performers, Mpilo Straw Nzimande and Kaylee McIlroy – both currently appearing together in the touring production of the Hilton Arts Festival-commissioned nature conservation piece, The Horn of Sorrow.

This Theatresmiths production – suitable for the whole family – has been created, devised and written by Michael Taylor-Broderick, multi-award winning lighting guru and purveyor of theatrical magic. The play is directed by Stacey Taylor-Broderick.

Broderick’s previous Theatresmiths productions were the hugely successful, whimsical One Man, One Light; the ethereal Jakob, about a lost child who has the surprising ability to guide you towards the light; and the Gold Ovation Award winning The King of Broken Things which encourages grown-ups to revisit and re-inhabit the magical places in our minds.

Tickets cost R70 and are available through Quicket in advance or at the door. The show runs about 45 minutes, with no interval. Dragons, of all ages, are especially welcome!

In fact, the best-dressed dragon will win a prize!

Shongweni Farmers’ and Craft Market owners Keith and Christine Standeaven wanted to create a performance space at the Saturday morning market to allow families to fall in love with the notion of live theatre again.

“Our market is all about wholesome outdoor family activity: the chance to enjoy some down time outdoors to unwind, with great stalls, food and music. A theatre is a natural extension of this vision – an opportunity for children to put down their devices and actually engage with the live experience”, explained Christine.

The Standeaven’s commitment to this vision has been the building of a theatre space snugly situated at the far side of the market, overlooking the magnificent vista of valleys. Technical support and expertise for the new theatre has been provided by market regular, Uptown Funky Junk’s Brandon Bunyan and his Black Coffee Productions.

Shongweni Market welcomes visitors every Saturday until Christmas from 6.30am until 1pm – with special market days on Thursday December 16, Friday December 17 and Sunday December 19 December, from 8am until 2pm. Browse, and buy authentic, original and unusual Christmas gifts while supporting small businesses, and enjoy a leisurely holiday brunch under the trees, with breathtaking views.  The market is home to an amazing assortment of kids’ activities, food and beverage options, handmade crafts, early morning yoga sessions, live music, plenty of outdoor seating, and safe parking.

Tickets are R70 throughout and are available through Quicket in advance or at the door. The show runs about 45 minutes, with no interval. Dragons, of all ages, are especially welcome!

In fact, the best-dressed dragon will win a prize!

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