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Schmooze: Exploring the schisms of celebrity

Date Released: Wed, 23 March 2011 08:33 +0200

A TV talk show has relocated for one show to a tented squatter camp to experience “local colour”, where the celebrities’ hermetic world of smoothness and irony is fractured by the squatters’ suddenness and real need. Director Ford Evanson describes Schmooze as “an exploration of what you need to survive and get along”. 

The piece examines the process and practice of celebrity and the schisms in the world. “Celebrity is such a controlled existence, it’s crazy. It’s really about a present absence; these people have to play into some sort of essence that they’ve been tagged with and are so restricted in what they are allowed to share. It is almost suicide to exist outside of that small little persona,” he said.

Mr Evanson, who arrived in Grahamstown almost 10 years ago after completing a Masters in Performance Studies at New York University, said he is interested in exploring the intrigue surrounding celebrities, talk shows and reality television. “Why do we watch them? They are so restricted in what they are allowed to do and say it’s really like the statue speaks, and yet we listen,” he said.

In the piece, the “tented city” is used to juxtapose the superficial world of celebrity with everyday issues of survival. “I’m hoping that celebrity might find some release in the tented city. It’s so foreign to the undemonstrative existence of celebrity,” he said. The piece makes use of a mixture of physical movement, acting and new media to create a process of communication, which Mr Ford said is integral to the theatre-making process.

Mr Evanson said his aim for the piece is to lay bare the process of theatre-making. “One of the hardest things to learn in theatre is how to rely on one another, how to need each other on stage. You realise that really you’re only as good as the person next to you, and that giving is essential for good theatre.”

He said that while film and television provide extremely controlled environments for acting, “the hopeful thing about theatre is the ability to transcend. There is the capacity for someone to enlarge themselves and that is always something to be seen,” he said.

Fort England Benefit Concert

The Saturday 26th performance of Schmooze will be a benefit concert for the Friends of Fort England. All proceeds of this performance will go to help this organisation.

The Friends of Fort England Psychiatric Hospital Association was formed in 1970 by a group of concerned Grahamstown citizens. The aims of the organisation are to assist patients with amenities which are beyond the means of the hospital to provide; to raise awareness of the needs of the hospital patients within the community; to attempt to counteract the stigma of mental illness; and to raise funds for these purposes.

For more information contact Kate Bold at k.bold@ru.ac.za visit the Schmooze Facebook Group.

By Sarah-Jane Bradfield

Photo: Director Ford Evanson