The September production of The People’s Theatre is always dedicated to literacy for International Literacy Day on 8 September. Sometimes it is the Mother Goose classics and sometimes something else. This year Jill Girard and Keith Smith have once again turned to home territory for their stories from African folklore, and the production is entitled Beneath African Skies.
The musical staging is by Sandy Dyer, with Mervyn Bathlomew as music director. The set and lighting is designed by Grant Knottenbelt and I was especially thrilled by the safari vehicle. Costumes are by Sean McGrath.
Four young actors, Thokozani Jiyane, Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri, Jaydene Marais, and Noni Mkhoto bring seven stories to life with almost thirty characters between them. The stories are: How Fairy Tales Reached The Earth; Rabbit and Elephant; Hare, Elephant & Rhinoceros; The Jackal, The Buffalo, The Lion and The Brave Kid; The Lion and the Jackal; Ntombinde Who Loved Adventure and Sister Python and Brother Rabbit. Each one delighted me. They also delighted the children who were invited to participate in several of the stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed the production, especially seeing how the children got involved with the characters, and the more touching moment when one little one wandered on stage behind the bigger one and was simply scooped up and carried by the actor when it came to time for them to run away from danger.
All round Beneath African Skies is a fun production which appeals to anyone with an inner child who still likes stories.
Beneath African Skies runs at The People’s Theatre, Joburg Theatre Complex, until 8 October 2017. The year-end programme will be Shrek JR, The Musical.