Drama Department collaborators win best international production

Associate Professor Andrew Buckland, PhD Candidate Rob Murray, and final year MA student Liezl de Kock have just returned from the Amsterdam Fringe Festival where their production “Crazy in Love”, presented by A Conspiracy of Clowns and National Arts Festival, scooped the award for Best International Performance.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Anneke Jansen, artistic director of the Amsterdam Fringe, commented, “The dream-like quality of the work and the almost child-like return of imagination, made the jury sometimes feel that Alice was back in Wonderland.

“Crazy in Love puts the ‘playing man’ back in the centre of the play and the performers are absolutely beautiful, creating a unique universe with the seemingly simplest of gestures. The set is ingeniously constructed out of a wide range of attributes that can be transformed into a hut to sleep in, a shrine for the dead or your worst childhood monster nightmare.”

The production was also hailed by the Fringe Review (UK) as one of the Festival’s must-sees and was given an “Outstanding Show” status.

Presented by A Conspiracy of Clowns, Standard Bank Ovation Award winner “Crazy in Love” is devised and performed by theatre legend Prof Buckland and Liezl de Kock, with direction by Murray, and design by Jayne Batzofin.

It is the tragicomic story of a father-daughter search for a missing bride and mother. Inspired by an episode in John Irving’s “Until I Find You”, and told using a captivating blend of physical and visual performance, “Crazy in Love” is a paean to love and its ensuing madness.

“When we created the show in 2013,” says Murray, “We had no thought of it beyond getting Andrew and Liezl on the floor and playing. Theirs is a rare onstage chemistry that is beautiful to witness and be part of. Although the subject matter is serious, we had such a fun time making the work, and it is complete credit to their generous and warm nature, not to mention their incredible talent!”

Created through physical improvisation following the Drama Department’s signature theme of embodied research, the work premiered on the 2013 National Arts Festival (NAF) Fringe where it went on to become the Bestselling Show on debut that year, and winning a coveted Standard Bank Ovation Award.

Sold out local performances and a trip to the Witness Hilton Arts Festival followed before the work was developed further, returning to the NAF in 2014 and also playing at the National Schools’ Festival.

“On the strength of our showing in Amsterdam and now winning this international award,” says Murray, “we have attracted a lot of attention and over the next few years might very well travel to San Diego, Hollywood, Brighton, Prague, and London, among others.” Negotiations are also underway to have a full season at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in 2015.

More immediately, Cape Town has the chance to catch this celebrated show at the Cape Town Fringe Festival from 25 to 30 September this year.

The three also used their time in Amsterdam to network and facilitated a theatre-making workshop with a group of Dutch students from Artez. “The response to our workshop was electric,” says Prof Buckland.

“So much so that we have been invited to conduct a residency with their institution next year – a Rhodes-Netherlands connection we want to develop over the next few years.” Many of the Dutch students were also very keen to intern at the Drama Department in the following years.

With all recent activity, Rhodes Drama specifically and South African theatre in general is set to continue making waves on the international front. In 2015, Prof Buckland has been invited back to Amsterdam Fringe Festival with his most recent work “Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof” directed by Sylvaine Strike, and De Kock with her Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award-winning “Piet se Optelgoed”, initially created for her final MA research output.

“The opportunity to develop work in the department so tied to research is a dream come true,” says de Kock. “The staff and student body are completely geared towards nurturing and supporting our personal development that one can take crazy risks one can’t always do in the industry. The creation of both “Crazy” and “Piet” has been life-changing and I am so grateful for all the chances we are given.”

Source:  Drama Department

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