Umtiza Arts tempts youth with five shows

Local theatre director Amanda Bothma is staging five diverse shows at the Umtiza Arts Festival at the weekend, including Moliere's ‘The Doctor In Spite of Himself’’. From over-the-top costumes, absurd props and witty characters, the show aims to keep audiences entertained. From left, Cameron McEwan, Alex Shaw, Ian Watson and Wendy Pennacchini.
UP AND DOWN: Local theatre director Amanda Bothma is staging five diverse shows at the Umtiza Arts Festival at the weekend, including Moliere's ‘The Doctor In Spite of Himself’’. From over-the-top costumes, absurd props and witty characters, the show aims to keep audiences entertained. From left, Cameron McEwan, Alex Shaw, Ian Watson and Wendy Pennacchini.
Image: ALAN EASON

Over-the-top costumes and humorous characters, relatable moments, poignant stories and classical music are just a few of the things local theatre director Amanda Bothma has in store for Umtiza Arts festinos.

Her company, Wela Kapela Productions, will offer five productions: Moliere’s The Doctor In Spite of Himself; an original children’s production, Spot the Fearless Fish; a comedic one-woman skit, Next!; A Star is Born; and Bocconcini d’Opera – at the Guild Theatre in East London at the weekend.

“We put quite a heavy focus on children and youth-friendly productions with this year’s theatre programme.

“I want to draw young people to the theatre and get them to enjoy it,” said Bothma.

Performed in the commedia dell’arte style, which requires actors to wear masks, The Doctor In Spite of Himself tells the tale of Saganarelle – a woodcutter who, through a joke orchestrated by his wife, is made to pretend to be a doctor and attempt to cure the feigned illness of a wealthy landowner’s daughter.

Ridiculous costumes and props, absurd caricatures and witty dialogue are sure to elicit laughs from audiences.

“We’ve had a lot of fun with this production.

“It’s been a wonderful challenge, because it’s a very different and particular kind of theatre.

“ It’s completely over the top, but all the actors have done very well,” Bothma said.

The cast comprises Cameron McEwan, Wendy Pennachini, Alex Shaw, Alison Hilstead, Zuko Tyida, Ian Watson, Pieter Taljard, Nadia du Plessis and Nathan Johannison.

Some of the cast members will also perform in Bothma’s original children’s production, Spot the Fearless Fish, which explores the effects of plastic pollution on marine life.

In the production, actors use objects to tell the story, offering a colourful and visually stimulating set.

Bothma’s one-woman shows, Next! Songs From Broadway and A Star is Born will see the well-known voices of Kay Mosiane and Kerry Hiles entertain audiences.

Next! will have Mosiane belt out famous Broadway numbers, including Broadway Baby, in a comedic skit on auditions and what it takes to be a star.

In A Star is Born, Hiles will portray Judy Garland, following the often tumultuous life of the US star.

“Both Kay and Kerry have wonderful singing voices and they will be accompanied by Jacques du Plessis on the piano,” said Bothma.

Du Plessis will also accompany the four opera singers in Bocconcini d’Opera.

This is the operatic production’s third run at the festival.

Comprising East London-born professional opera singer Litho Nqai, WSU lecturer Quattro Mgogo, local music teacher Siyasanga Mbuyazwe and former Cape Town Opera Company member Anele Duma, Bocconcini d’Opera presents musical titbits from the performers’ favourite operas.

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