#RENTSouthAfrica at the Artscape Arena
The ambitious, talented and newly established ‘Stephan Fourie Theatre Company' (STFC) undertook the mammoth task of producing RENT, a Broadway rock musical, written by Jonathan Larson, as their first production. Set in the 1990s, the story follows a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in East Village, New York. The production won multiple Tony awards in 1994 and was later adapted into a feature film in 2005. This year (2017), marks the 20th anniversary since RENT was first staged.
I must admit, I wasn't entirely familiar with RENT (but I was no stranger either). I would occasionally sit in a few conversations where my peers would refer to the musical, but I've never known what it was about, until I saw STFC's rendition, directed by Byron Bure, who described the production as a musical that aspires “South Africans to embrace their differences.” Considering the latter, the relevance that a production like RENT has to South Africa cannot be challenged, as modern-day communities are still dealing with a barrage of issues, such as poverty, homelessness, homosexuality, drug addiction, and HIV/Aids.
Through watching this production, I found myself in sync with the cast, storylines, and themes. I was very impressed with their vibrant, dynamic, and diverse cast. Their commitment and dedication to their craft became indisputable with their renditions of ‘Rent’, ‘La Vie Boheme’, and ‘Seasons of Love’.
A few noteworthy mentions:
Namisa Mdlalose who played 'Joanne' captivated the audience with her powerful voice and talent, which made her stand out above the rest.
Lighting designer – Faheem Bardien whose skill gave great artistic appeal to what otherwise could have been a bland looking set.
The cast: Lots of physicality goes into being able to climb ladders, and manoeuvre through scaffolding with ease and speed.
Have a look at what some of their audience members had to say.
RENT runs at the Artscape Arena until Saturday, 25 February 2017. Tickets are available at the Artscape Box Office, and at Computicket outlets.