Fresh from its success at the recent 2017 Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival in Scotland, acclaimed playwright, director and producer, Lara Foot’s The Inconvenience of Wings and Karoo Moose transfers to the Hilton Arts Festival in KwaZulu Natal from 15 to 17 September.
Foot is the CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre and a former Rolex protégé to Sir Peter Hall in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She has become known and respected for her own hard-hitting plays, which sensitively and creatively, tackle social issues in South Africa and for which she has won several awards. Last year she was honoured as the Featured Artist the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown) and she is a former Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre winner. Both productions were sold out at the National Arts Festival and received great audience and media acclaim.
In The Inconvenience of Wings Foot directs a stellar cast comprising Jennifer Steyn, Andrew Buckland and Mncedisi Shabangu. Earlier this year the play received the coveted Fleur du Cap awards for Best Director (Foot), Best Actor (Buckland) and Best Actress (Steyn).
Set in a landscape of memory and dreams, The Inconvenience of Wings, tackles the issues of friendship, dysfunction, addiction and angels. Sara (Steyn) has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; she is compulsive, alive and hates women who know how to make cupcakes. Paul (Buckland), her husband, is on a mission to find a cure for her afflictions and Professor James (Shabangu) quietly tries to save Paul from the inconvenience of his wings.
The play, at its heart, is a love story, which make for compelling viewing with burning contemporary themes such as bipolar disorder and compulsion and its devastating effect on the family. It cuts close to the bone for anyone who has suffered mental illness themselves, or has lived with someone who is afflicted.
John Maytham from Cape Talk gave it a glowing thumbs up, saying, “If there is a better piece of theatre at the Festival, please lead me to it … It is a piece that no serious theatre lover should miss … It’s that good.” Steve Kretzmann from Critter was equally encouraging referring to it as “… masterful direction” and “… the casts’ acutely magnificent performance … an engrossing, consummate performance… ”. Further praise came from Tony Jackman for the Daily Maverick who said, “Again, I take my hat off to Foot. She gets it, she truly, deeply, gets it across in this most excellent play … once you get into the meat of the story it grips you and takes you all the way.”
British Theatre Guide gave it five stars and called it, “a beautifully modulated work” and “should not be missed.” Edinburgh Guide described it as a “magnificent piece of work” and went further, saying “Through the virtuosity of the writer and the mastery of the performers, this production cannot go unwatched … Steyn, Buckland and Shabangu are breathtaking.”
Edfestmag said, “Lara Foot has created a powerful narrative that is honest in its portrayal yet creative in its approach, making for excellent storytelling” and The Wee Review agreed, saying “… it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving the auditorium without some strings of emotion, such is the impact and import of this piece.” “It’s no surprise that the play earned the triple gongs of Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress at the 2017 Fleur du Cap theatre awards”
The Inconvenience of Wings runs at the Hilton Arts Festival for two performances only at 10am on 16 and 17 September. There is an age restriction of 16 (Nudity and Language).
Nearly a decade since its premiere and 18 top South African accolades later, Lara Foot’s Karoo Moose also headlines this year’s Hilton Festival, for three performances only.
Starring the original multi-award-winning cast, who reprise their respective roles, having earned respect and acclaim in their own right over the years, the story is vividly brought to life by Zoleka Helesi, Mdu Kweyama, Bongile Mantsai, Thami Mbongo, Chuma Sopotela and Mfundo Tshazibane. The actors each perform a key character and double up to play multiple additional characters adding to the magic of the story.
Among its impressive list of honours, the production recently received the 2017 Kanna awards for Best Director (Foot), Best Production and Best Actress (Chuma Sopotela); the 2007 Aardvark Award for the Most Innovative Work, the 2008 Fleur du Cap Awards for Best Director and Best New Indigenous Production and the 2009 Naledi Awards for Best New South African Play, Best Production of a Straight Play and Best Director of a Play or Musical, as well as the 2010 Standard Bank Ovation Silver Award for theatre at the National Arts Festival.
Karoo Moose is a story of redemption and hope, cleverly and creatively combining traditional African storytelling and magical realism. In an impoverished village in the Karoo, a young girl, Thozama, struggles to survive. Her life is changed forever after her father uses her to pay his gambling debt. The disintegration of the family unit and the violation of innocence endured by so many South African children, is the focus of the play which has received overwhelming praise from critics and audiences.
City Press said, “It’s the sort of thing everyone should see at least once in their lives … it will change you forever” – such is the impact and power of this multi award-winning production. Cape Argus gave it five stars and described it thus “Karoo Moose is a gem in South Africa’s theatre history. You leave the theatre with a tenderized heart and a song on your lips”. Next 48Hours said, “It is only one of the most acclaimed and beloved productions of recent times, and pretty much as close to a phenomenon as you can get in the area of locally-penned, locally-produced theatre productions.”
Equal praise came from the UK media. British Theatre Guide gave it five stars and said, “Lara Foot has hit the jackpot with an unforgettable show” and “intoxicating”. The Stage described it as “beautifully nuanced storytelling” and Exeunt Magazine said “deeply moving” and “Karoo Moose is an uplifting testament to the power of live theatre.”
Performed in English with isiXhosa, the play was originally written as a film entitled No Fathers. Lara explains, “The themes of the story for me were bound up in the idea that the children in the village needed some kind of magical event to free them from abuse, neglect and poverty. Something magical was needed to break the cycle of violence.”
Karoo Moose runs at the Hilton Festival on 15 and 16 September at 1pm, but performances on 15 September are sold out. There is an age restriction of 13 years.

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