UCT alumnus and Fleur du Cap Best Actress winner Jennifer Steyn stars in this restaging of the award-winning production Scenes from the Execution as the extraordinary anti-heroine, Galactia.
She is joined by theatre favourites Nicky Rebelo and Graham Hopkins, who reprises his role as the Doge 25 years after the show’s first South African staging.
This powerhouse trio performs alongside a talented ensemble of UCT graduates: Khathushelo Ramabulana, Cleo Raatus, Elizabeth Akudugu, Phoebe Ritchie and Lauren Blackwell.
“I wanted to do this play for a second time because the central character is a woman and my hero. She’s who I want to be when I grow up, so to speak,” says director Clare Stopford, a senior lecturer at the UCT Drama Department who first directed the show for its 1994 South African premier at the Market Theatre.
Widely considered to be one of the playwright’s more accessible works, Howard Barker’s Scenes from an Execution is centred on the fearless and transgressive artist Galactia.
Set in 16th-century Venice, Galactia is commissioned by the Venetian republic to create a work that will celebrate its triumph at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Instead she does battle with the establishment and through her plucky pursuit of the truth, comes to know the reality of the slaughter that took place there.
“Galactia is a female fantasy figure of epic proportions: an incredibly talented painter with an unstoppable compulsion for the truth, a formidable intellect and wit, as well as fearlessness in the face of opposition from state and church. Moreover, she is also sexy, a mother and the lover of a younger man. She even has a sense of humour.”
Except for Steyn, Hopkins and Ramabulana, the rest of the cast move from character to character throughout the course of the dynamic production.
In an impossible situation, the autonomy and truthfulness of Galactia is tested against the demands of her benefactor. Brilliant, vain, and politically naïve, Galactia is fearless in her response to constraints on her independence.
Judged as shrill, aggressive and promiscuous, Galactia is tossed into jail for her refusal to glorify Venice in this state-commissioned painting.
“Ultimately, for me, the play is a meditation on the nature of the relationship between artists and the establishments who often fund them, and more than anything, about the effect of art on an audience,” explains Stopford.
Scenes from an Execution runs from 4 to 22 April at 19:30.
UCT staff and students will be offered the special price of R49 only at the Baxter box office until Saturday, 8 April.
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