Adapt or die: let’s hear it for SA-French team turning play into audio
Shift to audio aids the rendition of a narrowing bourgeois world in international collaboration
The French Institute of SA (IFAS) and the Kwasha! Theatre Company have made contributions to the local arts and culture landscape over the past few years. So it is unsurprising that their partnership, backed by institutional weight — IFAS is the cultural agency of the French Embassy, while Kwasha! is a professional launch pad for selected graduates of the Market Theatre Laboratory — has produced notable productions.
A stage adaptation in 2018 of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince was followed in 2019 by a version of Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. Thus began a trajectory from the expansive imagination of Saint-Exupéry’s enigmatic tale, by turns melancholic and joyful, to the more cynical world created by Ionesco — likewise a combination of the maudlin and the funny, but in this case a play that shifts from realist satire into absurdist nightmare.
If there is dreamy idealism in The Little Prince, which its author sustained in the midst of World War 2 (the book was published in 1943), Rhinoceros recalls Europe’s decline into totalitarianism from the more jaundiced perspective of a later generation. Ionesco had experienced right-wing nationalism and anti-Semitism first hand in Romania before the war and in Vichy France...