RELAYING MESSAGE: Dancer Kristen Kirtley is lifted up by fellow dancers during a rehearsal for ‘The Last Straw’. Co-directed by local playwright Jen Bryson Moorcroft and dance teacher Charene Harris, the original musical theatre piece, promoting the reduced use of single use plastics, will be staged at the Alexander Playhouse from September 6- 8.
Image: Supplied /Alison Du Preez

Local playwright, Jen Bryson Moorcroft and dance teacher, Charene Harris have joined forces to bring East London audiences an original environmental musical theatre production titled The Last Straw.

Promoting the reduced use of single use plastics, the show is set on the pristine sea planet, Ultramarine, and follows the fantastical sea creatures that inhabit the planet as they encounter a new strange species – humans.

While many are intrigued with these plastic-spewing beings and the gifts they bring, there is a hidden trap as Plasticide the Destroyer is on the loose.

Sustaining the environmental message with each detail of the show, the sets and props, designed by Odette Jooste and small intricacies on the costumes, designed by Judy Raffan, are made from recycled materials.

“Our coral reef and waves, little sea creatures and additions to the costumes are made from recycled plastic. It’s given the whole show a really authentic feel and promotes the idea of turning trash into art and re-using our plastic waste,” Moorcroft said.

Harris, who was inspired by her surfer husband, Alan, and son, Sebastian, said going to the beach was a daily activity for her family and after seeing the state of the shoreline, she knew something had to be done to create awareness.

“Doing my research I realised a real big movement needs to start happening if we have any chance of saving our oceans, so I thought what better way to bring a message across than to use my dance and theatre skills and bring it to the public in a creative and fun way,” she said.

“When Charene approached me to write an original musical I was so excited. She allowed me to kind of go wild with it and the writing process was very creatively satisfying ” she said.

“Charene really has a heart for this topic and it has been great to work with someone who is so passionate about what she does,” said Moorcroft.

Co-directed by Harris and Moorcroft, the show presents a very poignant message, but also offers great entertainment value, with a cast of 35 actors, dancers and singers bringing the story together in a fun, unique and unexpected way.

“It’s not preachy and we’re not trying to guilt trip people into becoming activists. We want to inspire, so it’s light hearted, funny and incorporates a lot of audience interaction,” said Moorcroft.

“Throughout the show audience members will be required to do certain things for the story to continue, hopefully the audience will realise how their decisions can have a huge influence on the world.”

With dance choreography bringing the crazy characters to life and supporting a creative script so well, both Harris and Moorcroft hope their team effort will entertain and inspire audience members of all ages.

“Working with Jen has been a privilege and an amazing creative learning curve, not only for my students but also for me. The best thing in our message is clear and we hope that it will spread far and wide,” said Harris.

“It is so cleverly written and creatively displayed so I hope that this is that drop in the ocean that will help create the avalanche of change that our planet needs.”

The production will be staged at the Alexander Playhouse from September 6 to 8. Tickets are R100 for adults and R80 for scholars and can be purchased from Lee Gold Music.

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