Posts tagged "cape town"

One-man show cracks head, then heart, wide open

Review: Kafka’s Ape, Alexander Bar until June 22, after that at National Arts Festival in Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown

Adapted and directed by Phala O. Phala; original design by Liesel N. Retief
Performed by Tony Bonani Miyambo

If Tony Miyambo’s performance in Kafka’s Ape wasn’t so riveting the goings on on-stage would quickly have faded into a sideshow to the fireworks set off in my head.

I felt like I was transfixed, yet somehow I was also engaged in an intense Q and A with myself throughout. The show set off a quickfire interrogation of myself (“Did you really think that?”, “Oh no, don’t go there”, etc). Very confronting indeed.

Billed as “a performance about a primate’s struggle to overcome the confines of captivity”, this play is about the cruelty, beastliness even, of humans.

Miyambo’s extraordinary ape-like antics and sounds are both convincing and confusing. Through his eyes we get a disturbing look at that most primitive and barbaric of creatures, mankind. We can almost see the soul of the ape; man, on the other hand, is a drunkard and a fool.

Watching a black man discussing being captured and enslaved is so close to home and it’s downright confronting. Man versus beast is a proxy for that other great battle, man versus man, in this adaptation of Franz Kafka’s ‘A Report To An Academy’.

First my heart was cracked open, then my head. If Kafka’s Ape is hard to watch, performing it must require a pair that are made of steel.

I left wondering: Are we just the product of our lives, experiences and surroundings, or do we indeed have our own beautiful, independent souls?

Kafka’s Ape is on until June 22 at the Alexander Bar, which has a special place in the hearts of Capetonians with a love for independent theatre. Even on a blustery Tuesday night in winter Alex delivered with an interesting cast of theatregoers watching sensational independent theatre.

Busty bombshells bare more than their beautiful butts

Along with the full dose of bitchiness and belly laughs, the Trolley Dollies take the audience into their confidence and a little deeper into the life of a drag queen in their new show, NON-Specific, at Gate 69.

‘Choosing’ to be a woman in a man’s world can be fabulously funny, but it is definitely not just a big joke. The new show really is fabulous and funny; it is also poignant and thought-provoking as the three brassy babes bravely reveal their more fragile side.

The moment the gorgeous Cathy Specific greets us on the red carpet we are whisked away into a world of make-believe. Three former rugby players in enormous wigs, 9 inch heels and fish net stockings make us scream with laughter and sing along loudly as they dust off some classic numbers that unite a diverse crowd. Signalling their wide appeal, groups of all ages, colours and creeds include various birthday parties (at least one 40th and a 70th) and a 40th wedding anniversary.

A tasty and generous tapas-style dinner of meats, cheeses and pates is served on a Lazy Susan on each table before the show. It is great for tucking into before the show and picking at throughout the rest of the evening. The spread on the Lazy Susan would be more than enough but the little extras (a delicious starter of lentil soup, warm bread and ice cream cones) served fresh from the kitchen by the stars themselves adds a lovely touch.

I am not sure it was the usefulness of the Lazy Susan that sold the girls on it; more likely, it was the chance to say Lazy Susan a few times during the show, a silly little pleasure which has proved irresistible to me too. Sometimes it is hard not to be silly, but I am happy to give myself a break here. (I manage to keep up the show of being grown up and serious a lot of time.)

It’s great that the girls are giving themselves a break too. Underneath the bravado and the fabulosity there are three sensitive, if gritty, souls. It is pretty brave of Cathy, Molly and Holly to let us into their dressing room and take off the masks for a while.

They switched between being the big and beautiful bombshells belting out big numbers on stage and three blokes dressed as girls sharing stories about coming out and being stung by the cruel jokes and taunts about being clowns.

This confiding in the audience never feels self-indulgent and there is plenty of bitchy banter to remind you just how tough these three are. A flow of cracking, original one-liners keeps the mood light and the laughter flowing.

The dressing room scenes have their sad moments, but it feels like these three fabulous show girls are somehow having the last laugh. Expect the show to sell out!

NON-Specific stars Brendan van Rhyn as Cathy, Rudi Jansen as Molly and writer-director Christopher Dudgeon as Holly. Additional lyrics are by Brendan van Rhyn, sound and lighting is by Chad Goldsworthy, set design is by Eddie du Plooy, wigs are by Tessa Denton and costumes by Lloyd Kandlin and Kyle Jardine. Choreography is by Sven-Eric Muller and musical direction by Melissa van der Spuy.

NON-Specific runs until July 27 with performances from Wednesday to Saturdays at 8:15pm, with recommended arrival time at 6:30pm for a warm embrace from Cathy Specific on the red carpet and dinner before the show. Cost is R520 to R599 pp and includes the show and dinner. Booking is through www.gate69.co.za or 021 0351627. PG16

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Photographs by
Nardus Engelbrecht

Food and wine that (almost) tops the art

Makes me weak at the knees … From the moment I arrive at this sensational destination in this gorgeous city – from the haunting opera music piped into the stairwell between the parking garage and the museum, to the food and wine artistically paired and passionately served on the top floorWe were already totally and madly in love with the Zeitz Mocaa Museum. The relationship got off to great start: It is about us https://calloffthesearch.com/africa/zeitz-mocaa-us/.

Layers and layers of pleasure, in every colour and shape, have been added week by week as we have popped in often, for a minute or so much more. Sometimes we linger and go on a journey from room to room; other times we pop in and head somewhere in particular for a quick fix.

When it comes to quick fixes, William Kentridge’s multi-panel digital video More Sweetly, Play The Dance is the hit of hits. It will bring me back as long as it is here (the plaque says it is on loan from the artist and the Goodman Gallery). Like a hit of something forbidden, the thrill of watching this particular tragi-comedy of pure South African-ness thrills almost as soon as it is delivered: half pleasure, half pain; half pride, half shame.

The beauty of a membership, we thought, was being able to pop in at will, jumping queues and avoiding the entry fee. We think we own the place.

That was even before they started wining and dining us …

We were alerted to the wine pairing in the café at the top of the gallery by a little, almost matter of fact mention in the members’ newsletter. An amazing deal, R250 for a three-course meal, each course paired with a glass of wine. All of this in that delicious space with its glorious geodesic windows that protrude from the building in a visual representation of the former grain silos full-to-busting with grain.

They could have served us scrambled eggs and a glass of port … Instead they served us three delicious courses paired with superb wines that made us wonder if Kentridge himself had been involved.

It is, in fact, head chef Christopher Law who is to be congratulated for the creations that come from his kitchen.

It was a procession of delicious, interesting flavours and textures, some that delighted and popped, others tickling and teasing. I am not going to lie, there was some stroking too. So many knockout combinations of food and wine.

Consider this extravaganza of a starter: scorched seabass, truffle crumbles, lemon-infused crème fraiche, pickled ginger puree, beetroot and baby leaves. And so it continued, a delicious journey through flavours and sensations. I have to be honest, though, the extra special ingredient on the day was our server, Richard.

This charming and knowledgeable waiter-cum-wine sommelier added a very particular layer of magic. He understands the wine and the food, the combination of the two especially. He served it all with such skill and more than a side order of passion.

He must have seen us coming because he was very quick to recommend a glass of bubbly, the Lourensford https://lourensford.co.za/  MCC, before we start the pairing.

If there wasn’t a ban on using the word champagne to describe SA bubbly, Richard said, would call this this Cap Classique the champagne of champagnes. Not a word of a lie there. There is a lot of promise on the nose with strong aromas of cake crust, hints of marzipan even. Then the finest of bubbles and the freshest of finishes.

It was a perfect start. We were both glad there was no food with the bubbly since it would have just been too distracting. Total focus required!

Then it was time for that starter. A variety of little bites of delicate flavours and textures seemed to play together in a miniature symphony that was over too quickly.

The Lourensford chardonnay impressed the two of us, who normally avoid it even if it lacks the acidity of the others that sometimes stings and irritates. What surprised about the Lourensford was the absence of the perfumey, oily, woody chardonnay flavours that usually drive us away. Funny how you can like a thing for what it lacks. In this case, it felt a little like taking a dip in the Atlantic on Camps Bay and discovering that the sea is not as cold as you thought.

No one was more surprised than me when the delicious main course played second fiddle to the vino, the Shiraz Mourvèdre Viognier 2015, even though the sous vide sirloin with caramelised pear croquettes (a revelation), the sweetest red pepper puree and the finest of green beans was a total knockout.

Loud applause for both food and wine, but the standing ovation went to Richard, who did a little dance as he unpacked and described our seduction by this Rhone-style blend. First, he said, you get a little spice on the nose … then a cherry smell passes by …

He does a little dance as he describes it: “First you feel your shiraz. Then there is a little tussle as Mourvèdre tries to get in on the action and finally, the viognier steps forwards and says, Calm down I am here too!”

That surely must be the climax, I thought, but then the dessert, aah the dessert: strawberry and cream vanilla cake, wild strawberry moose, honey and vanilla parfait, black basil crumbs and strawberry compote.

This spread of delicious sweetness was balanced by a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Asked about his favourite wines, Richard said: “If you have five children you, can’t favour one, not even the baby.”

The wine pairing lunches are served in the café on Level 6 of Zeitz Mocaa only until the end of April. A different menu is served every day.

The grocery store we’ve all been waiting for

I am just back from my first visit to Nude Foods, the grocery store we have all been waiting for! I do mean all of us. Cape Town’s new plastic-free grocer is heaven for hipsters, for sure, with its hemp seeds, healthy hair products and earth-friendly body and home products, and a veritable lezzer nirvana with all those non-GMO pulses and legumes and natural fibre face clothes.

But even if you are a totally unreformed meat-eating, booze-guzzling, SUV-driving capitalist you will probably like the raw understated style of the green-green grocer with its exposed brickwork and sexy container-ing of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and friends.

Plus there are many other little tricks and treats such as  an all-natural stain remover stick that removes even that environmentally friendly extra virgin olive oil should it be splashed on your favourite blouse, I am reliably informed.

The target-obsessed, outcomes-focused busy bees will love the convenience of it all.

Just a few minutes away from worshipping at the altar of your own busy-busy-busy-ness and you will have achieved low cost, high impact efficiency (and probably a few super cool selfies) as you filled your hessian sack with delicious and affordable wholefoods. That’s a nice little update for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram … that should get you some Likes!

After being offered a glass straw at the Alexander Bar last week I was delighted to see bamboo straws at Nude.

The glass straw is a nice idea and a very luxurious experience, but somehow it doesn’t feel realistic to hope that it will take off on a meaningful scale, kinda like washing your hair in Evian (Kim Bassinger and I really tried to make that take off but it just didn’t catch on).

Plastic straws seem to be widely hated at the moment; they are the gateway drug du jour and I am happy to have turned my back on them forever.

Seriously, whether you are a hipster or a total hick you will love Nude Foods at 5 Constitution Street, East City Precinct, Cape Town.

It is unforgivable not to even attempt to do your bit. See you in the water queues…  

PS I was happy to see that there is one kind of plastic that is welcome here and that they are using Yoco. I do love a little disruption!

Yoco, poster child of SA as global fintech hub

Very familiar and completely vreemd

How I wished I didn’t have to read the surtitles in Moedertaal. Whenever I listened to the Afrikaans words spoken by Sandra Prinsloo I understood snatches of a beautiful, lyrical Afrikaans that cannot be translated. When I heard the Afrikaans and saw the translations in English I wanted to shout out: “That is not what she said; it is definitely not what he meant!”

That’s right, I said ‘he’. Hard as it was for me to believe, a man wrote this poignant and intimate story told in a very powerfully feminine voice by Prinsloo, that grande dame of South African theatre. Familiar and vreemd indeed.

Written and directed by Nico Scheepers, Moedertaal is the third instalment in Sandra Prinsloo’s trifecta of one-woman plays that began so beautifully with Die Naaimasjien. Scheepers, who also composed the music, has been described as “one of the most exciting young theatre-makers in this country”. He and Prinsloo make a formidable pair.

Evocative, compelling narrative (even in the translated surtitles … although less so) grabs us from the beginning. ‘Almost-poetry’ that brings to mind and body the feeling of bare, dusty feet as we explore with Nellie her dead uncle’s farm. (The family has moved here after he put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a tragically familiar narrative.)

We feel the air thick with sticky, plummy smells and a sweet conspiratorial bond as she helps her dad make moonshine from the maroela fruit.

We feel the fire on our skin and our hearts break as the orchard burns down one night. Later, our hearts repaired a little, we are overcome by awkwardness when Nellie meets her life’s love as a teenager.

Their story is three-quarters familiar, populated and coloured in by many versions and vignettes of our white South African stereotypes. The rest of it we watch from a distance, sometimes amused, often horrified. This quarter is the deeply personal, unique happiness and pain that can never be shared, the private journey between two people in love, touched occasionally by a third: a parent, another lover or, most importantly, a child.

As in life, even as each of them is uniquely quirky, there is a certain familiarity to all the misfits, the loners, the nut-jobs … in Afrikaans and in English. We think we know them and fear what they might want from us, so we back off and thank the heavens we didn’t end up like that … although we can remember more than a few moments when things looked to be heading that way.

Moedertaal gives us a tiny flash of how little we know about all the others – their lives, their loves and their losses – even if it looks so familiar that we thought those dusty bare feet were our own for a minute.

Review: Moedertaal, The Fugard Studio Theatre, November 14 to December 2. Performances are Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm and on Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets (R130-R165), available via 021 461 4554 and Computicket

Pop in to the one and only Dias Tavern next door for pre-theatre dinner, best chicken peri peri and calamari in town, booking essential 021 465 7547

Swing into spring in downtown Cape Town

Gangsters and their molls, bootleggers, poets and playwrights, flappers and assorted dandies … just another night at your favourite tavern in town, you might think, but Cape Town’s monthly swing nights, which are launching on 1 September at the Reserve at the Taj, promise a whole lot more.

As winter breathes its last misty breaths, Gerald Schreiner, Daneel van Der Walt, David Lubbe and the Swing Cats will present a night of Prohibition era swing, jazz and blues music you can dance to.

Think foxtrot, swing, tap and jitterbug, and tunes like “It’s too darn hot”, “Let’s call the whole thing off” and “On the sunny side of the street”.

These Prohibition era nights (sans Prohibition of course) will bring a little Speakeasy-style decadence to Cape Town’s kinda sleepy city centre.
Guests are asked to dress the part, although it is not compulsory.

“Think of an old school dinner dance, of speakeasies, flapper dresses, flatcaps and champagne glasses moulded off the breast of Marie Antoinette,” the organisers said in a statement.

A sit-down dinner will be available from 7.30pm, and the show starts at 9pm.

Expect this to become a Capetonian institution!

Tickets available here: https://speakeasyswing.co.za/

Lest we forget …

Cheers to Sarajevo, which is showing at the Alexander Bar until Saturday July 8, is one of those universal stories about people who are not supposed to fall in love. This story about a love affair between a Serbian man and a Bosnian woman during the captured and corrupt times of the Yugoslavian war feels very relevant and personal.
The show about the fine and fragile line between love and hate has us on the edge of our seats. We wince as we see what unfolds when politics goes wrong. We smart as young men and women are set against each other and sent to die in a war created by “old people sitting in coffee shops”.

CheersToSarajevoPIC

Aimee Mica Goldsmith as Mirela and Lamar Bonhomme as Slobo

This hard-hitting drama, written by Aimée Goldsmith and Lidija Marelic, feels very far away and immediately close at the same time. It is perhaps a timely reminder of the hell we in South Africa have managed to escape before … just as we seem to be mucking about on the edge of it again.
Directed by Ashleigh Harvey (Funny Girl), assisted by Sven-Eric Muller (Funny Girl, West Side story, Cabaret). Cheers to Sarajevo stars Stephen Christopher Jubber (West Side Story, Annie), as Peter; Aimee Mica Goldsmith (Warner Bros’ Blended, Othello, Equus) as Mirela; Alistair Moulton Black (King Lear, Sexual Perversity in Chicago) as Aleks; and Lamar Bonhomme (The Crown, High Rollers) as Slobo.
At Alexander Bar daily at 7pm. Tickets cost R80 if booked online https://alexanderbar.co.za/show/Cheers_to_Sarajevo/ or R120 at the door

Take one HQ, add a large portion of Bizerca …

 Cape Town foodies will be interested to hear the news that the chef and owner of Bistrot Bizerca, Laurent Deslandes, will be joining the team at HQ, another Mother City favourite, as group executive chef.

The combination of these two celebrated brands means patrons at HQ can look forward to ‘HQ Courtyard by Laurent’ serving a Bizerca-influenced tapas and “plat du jour” menu for lunch from Monday to Thursday, and until 8pm on Fridays.

HQ said in a statement on Thursday that Deslandes’ “passion for cuisine” had already been experienced on HQ’s tapas menu and at signature monthly events such as Fine Wining and Raise the Steaks. Thursday’s statement signalled the start of a deeper association after Bizerca stopped trading at the end of March.

Laurent Deslandes

“Look out for some Bizerca classics, a little bit of new fun, and expect the casual style atmosphere that HQ does best,” said Deslandes.

In addition to “refining the food offering at HQ”, the statement said, the French chef who moved to South Africa after a successful career sweating over a hot stove in Australia would also be cooking up another new restaurant concept.

The mouth waters…

– African News Agency (ANA)

Yoco, poster child of SA as global fintech hub

Local startup Yoco’s successfully concluded foreign funding round, announced on Wednesday, has been described as a vote of confidence in South Africa’s growing fintech ecosystem.

The South African startup told a media briefing in Cape Town that it had secured funding commitments for an undisclosed sum from U.S.-based Quona Capital and Velocity Capital of the Netherlands.

In addition to being a milestone and validation for Yoco, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder, Katlego Maphai, pictured, said that being able to attract top-tier foreign VC investors was a “vote of confidence in South Africa’s growing fintech and startup ecosystem”.

Adding that Cape Town was “fast becoming a global fintech capital”, Maphai said it was not a coincidence that the fintech ecosystem was developing in the Cape.

He said the Western Cape government’s public endorsement of Yoco had been supplemented by constant, quiet support from the sidelines. Maphai noted that special thanks were due to Alan Winde, the province’s MEC for economic opportunities.

Both Quona Capital co-founder and partner, Monica Brand Engel, and Velocity Capital director, Allard Luchsinger, mentioned the enabling ecosystem of the Western Cape and its position as a potential launchpad into the rest of Africa as additional reasons to invest in Yoco’s “world-class platform and team”.

“There is a massive opportunity to expand access to, and the quality of, financial services through the digitisation of SME payments and payments data in Africa, where cash still predominates in many economies,” said Engel, pictured, of Quona Capital, which manages the $141 million Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, the first global fintech fund for the under-served.

“Yoco is a market-maker … growing the size of the card payment acceptance market,” added Luchsinger.

Maphai noted the importance of “raising smart capital from seasoned fintech investors”, saying it would enable Yoco “to continue our self-directed journey to grow the SME payments markets through world-class execution, delivered with radical simplicity”.

Yoco has previously raised capital from angel investors and seed funds, including the likes of CRE Venture Capital, specialist fintech angel investor Robby Hilkowitz and Greg Kidd (a first-round investor and advisor at Square and Twitter), but this was the first funding round solely including institutional investors. The company said it is also bigger than previous raises.

Yoco co-founder, Carl Wazen, pictured, said the funding had been earmarked to expand the footprint and services offered by the fast-growing fintech company that currently processes more than R1 billion in transactions per year.

He added that Yoco planned to use the funds raised to expand their current base of 6,500 customers, 70 percent of whom had not accepted cards at all before. The company also planned to add additional services to their offering and to prepare for expansion into other markets, with possibilities in both East and West Africa under discussion.

Yoco’s integrated card payment and point-of-sale system enables small businesses and entrepreneurs to securely accept card payments wherever they are. Pay-per-use pricing with no monthly fees make it an obvious choice for small business owners.

In line with its focus on empowering SME growth, the company also offers merchants a business intelligence portal that gives real-time insights into transactions and products sold. The size of the market is estimated to be around a million businesses in South Africa, where even social grants are disbursed via preloaded debit cards but many merchants cannot accept any form of plastic.

As for the rest of the continent, the press briefing was reminded that small and medium sized businesses, both formal and informal, are estimated to be responsible for up to 50 percent of Africa’s GDP and 90 percent of employment on the continent.

Although, Velocity’s Luchsinger, pictured, said “we know that Sub-Saharan Africa is different from the rest of the continent”.

But, he added, they had been very impressed with the depth of thinking that went into every single part of Yoco’s business.

“We believe this team will approach other regions with the same depth of thinking and analysis. We think this is a team that could become the main SME provider for Africa.”

There seems to be little doubt about its potential. Winde, who said he had squeezed the meeting in after being told he wouldn’t be able to make it, described Yoco as as “the next generation of great ideas in finance”.

Thanking the investors for choosing an African company and one based in Cape Town, he added that he thought they had made the right choice.

“The leapfrog into delivering services into Africa is going to happen out of this region,” he said.

Winde added that the big names, “whether they be from Europe, Israel or Silicon Valley”, were migrating towards the Cape. “This is just another little building block in that ecosystem.”

Hilkowitz, the angel investor who has amassed a sizeable portfolio in fintech across developed and developing markets, agreed: “Africa doesn’t have a fintech hub … This is an opportunity for Cape Town to be the fintech hub of Africa.”

And, he added, “Yoco can be the poster child for that”.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Salt River shows off its sexy new look

Children help Julia Mary Grey with her mosaic

It has been the brightest of weeks in Salt River and scores of people from all over Cape Town and beyond are expected to come out to celebrate this weekend. More than 30 artists have painted the suburb every shade of red and many others besides during Cape Town’s first International Public Art Festival.

Every time I have been down there the artists have been surrounded by children, many of them eager to help. The children of this neighbourhood have claimed the project as their own and have done a lot more than dab the odd bit of paint here and there.

A 125-metre wall in Dove Street, entirely the work of local youngsters completed with guidance from artists, including Hajila, is a legacy of and for a community that has opened doors, walls, hearts and homes.

Senzo Nhlapo ©Senzart911

The fun and festivities are due to climax this weekend when the final touches will be put to the artworks, and many locals and visitors will come out to celebrate and admire the neighbourhood’s brand new look.

The festival is a launchpad for various other programmes, all of which will use art as a platform for education and upliftment. Some of these have already started with local children among the beneficiaries with art classes being held at the Blackpool football club and at two schools.

There will be various art-focused activities at and around the Blackpool football club this weekend. Many Salt River residents will be on hand to take visitors on tours of the suburb and its new art for a small fee. There will also be music and food (local delights prepared by people from the neighbourhood) as well as other entertainment.

It’s all happening in and around Blackpool football club, 9 Shelley Road, Salt River.

More information www.ipafest.co.za