SO … WHAT IS PLAY CLUB?
IT’S A GRASSROOTS POP-UP THEATRE INITIATIVE TO BUILD COMMUNITY IN AND AROUND THE ARTS INDUSTRY.
aka: Our Story
Who doesn’t love a good story? It moves us. It challenges us. It drives us. It gives us hope. It inspires us. And theatre-people can tell a GREAT story.
Play Club was founded in Cape Town in 2012 by American-born producer and director, Drew Bakker. To say that Drew is passionate about theatre, music and all it encompasses would be an understatement, but even more so, his enthusiasm for sharing his love of the industry with others is infectious. Hence his creation of a community that comes together to interact and inspire, creating vision and inspiration amongst like-minded people both within the theatre industry, and with those who share common interests.
Since Play Club’s beginnings, we’ve gone on to bring together over 1,000 (and counting) top actors from stage and screen, directors, producers, coaches, professors, drama students, reviewers, bloggers, theatre-lovers and general creative people, birthing a varsity group, live podcasting world-wide, CONNECT Stage+Screen Magazine (and its’ current incarnation: PROMPT Magazine), two peer theatre awards, hosting 40 industry play readings (and counting!), most making their South African debuts, an All-Star Charity reading of STEEL MAGNOLIAS as well as three All-Star Readings of THE AUDIENCE, introducing our newest city, Durban, to join Johannesburg and Cape Town, all creating our very own version of Inside The Actor’s Studio. We’ve been interviewed and featured in the Cape Times, BroadwayWorld South Africa, Fine Music Radio, Glitter Toast Blog amongst others.
Our pop-up venues have appeared across the Mother City at Alexander Bar, Sanders South Africa (in a gorgeous living room showroom big enough for the 100+ that attended) and in numerous living rooms across Joburg and Cape Town. We have been in residence at Miao in the heart of the de Waterkant and are currently home at Redhill School in Sandton and ACT Cape Town in the heart of the CBD.
From a monthly Play Club, we saw the birth of bi-weekly Play Club (a mainstage title followed by an indie title) and the bi-weekly Film Club with an all-star international panel. We also brought in the monthly New York piano-bar cabaret, featuring stars from the stage in an informal concert, Parlo(u)r Songs. A highlight was Drew’s Barely Legal Showtunes, showcasing 13 of the best up-and-coming musical theatre actors 25 and under, quickly selling out and adding a second performance to meet the standing-room only demand.
All of this was with a simple drive: inspire community.
Our story of inclusiveness, hope, opening dialogue and breaking down walls continues now in our fifth year, a home for artists, waiting with a spot just for YOU. Many have likened us to “church”, a recharge with other creative folks and a place to fall back in love with what you fell in love with to begin with.
“Inspiring community” isn’t just a catchy tag-line (if we say so ourselves). It’s the very core of why we do what we do: to inspire people to come together, but also to be a lighthouse of inspiration within that community.
Are you an actor looking to dive into cold-reading great new material and to play?
A drama student wanting to learn how leaders of the industry approach a script for the first time?
A theatre-lover that wants to have a completely new experience, seeing a play from the ground up?
There’s a place waiting for you! Come and play. Leave the driving to us: enjoy the ride.
Our celebrity Play Club reading of THE AUDIENCE is happening in Joburg and Cape Town on 30 January 2017, and in Durban on 29 January 2017 …
RECENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
– IS IT JUST FOR MEMBERS? Play Club is open to everyone and anyone that loves the arts. It’s a playground for actors, directors, designers, creative folks, book lovers, theatre lovers and everyone in between. If you join us regularly, join us and save R20 a Play Club!
– I HAVE A QUESTION. CAN I CALL SOMEONE? Of course! Our contact details are at the bottom of our website.
– IS THIS COMING TO (insert city here)? Each city will be essentially reading the same play and the structure of the evening will be the same, but, between the actors and the people that attend, each Play Club is completely different to the one before it. It makes it super special and super unique to where you attend. But to answer the question, it’s a very special one-night-only event!
– IS IT A PLAY? IS IT ON STAGE? Part of the magic of doing a show is the first time a cast gets together, sits around a table and tears apart the script you’re about to live for the next season of your career. Your English Lit class reading of OTHELLO this is definitely NOT. For this, you’re a fly-on-the-wall, reading along with some of South Africa’s finest actors and you get to see a brand new play as it would be approached from the “ground up”. If you’re a theatre-goer, it’s a completely different and wonderful experience to see a play deconstructed. And to anyone else, it’s a chance to watch artists get to play. Afterwards, we open the floor to a great talkback about the piece, the process and whatever else comes up.
– WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT?! For us, we are driven by community and inspiring dialogue amongst theatre-makers and theatre-goers, as well as creating a platform to inspire the arts community. The play is just a means of bringing us together. Come to network, come to meet other crazy creative folks or just come to experience a play that is unlikely to hit our shores anytime soon. There’s something for everyone!
– HOW MUCH IS IT? We’re a not-for-profit community initiative and work off suggested donations to cover our expenses. R50 is the suggested donation for general public, with Play Club Members, SAGA Members ad Students at a suggested R30. We’ll have someone at the door when you arrive. Cash is great. We also have SnapScan.
– CAN I UPDATE MY RSVP? Yep! Just re-enter your email details and it’ll pull up your existing reservation that you can update. Please let us know if anything changes, should someone on the waiting list be able to join us.
Five enormous, glittering stars to Fiona Ramsay who portrays the tortured Stella Goldschlag, reminiscing about her shadowy past in war-torn Berlin.
Stella seems to have lived a rather comfortable post-war life, so what is it that has brought all these dark memories into the light. Apparently a phone call from a long forgotten admirer: a little boy in the snow, who she mockingly remembers, shyly telling her in his cracked voice “I love you Stella.” The awkward child of the past is now a respected journalist, wanting to hear her story of survival.
We think we’ve heard it all, don’t we, those Holocaust stories, strength of spirit, desperation, inspiration found in the deepest, darkest depths of evil and despair. But Stella’s story is one very seldom brought to light. We hear her description of what it was like to live as a ‘U-Boat’ – an illegal, under-the-radar Jewish citizen; her refusal to back down from her arrogant assumption that beauty will excuse her every fault, even that of being a Jew.
Eventually, inevitably, though, Stella’s luck runs out. Being an Aryan-looking blonde can only get you so far, and then those efficient Nazi lists did tend to catch up with you. And she quickly learns that jealousy and betrayal come to all beautiful girls. But when she’s offered an alternative to the death camps, for both her parents and herself, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save their lives. So she becomes a “greifer”, a “catcher” for the Gestapo. After all, she says, she knows where all the Jews can be found, where they gather, where they live, who better for the job?
But now, in the present, the echoes of the past are catching up with her, she’s plagued by whispers of yesteryear, asking “How can you live with yourself?” as she begs us to consider: “What would you have done?”
Ramsay presents a chilling portrayal of a ruthless, cold-hearted traitor … or does she? In more light-hearted moments one can almost wonder. Perhaps she was less a traitor, and just another casualty of war, doing all she could to survive? The audience must come to terms with the horrific realisation of what moral code was in play at the time, if any. The riveting scene unfolding onstage keeps one so absolutely enthralled that there’s barely time to even comprehend the stark reality of what Stella needed to confront, both in her past and her present.
Gail Louw’s Blonde Poison is a multi-faceted, mesmerising piece; one that will leave audiences with much to consider for quite some time after they’ve left the theatre. Director Janna Ramos-Violante has done a sterling job, ensuring that the depths do not plummet too low for too long, nor do the lighter moments allow audiences to lose focus. Ramsay’s movement through the simple, but functional set flows easily, and one is never left guessing as to her intent.
Blonde Poison will run at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square from 10th January – 4th February 2017. There will be 6 performances per week – Tuesdays to Fridays at 8.15pm and two shows on Saturdays at 6pm and 8.15pm. Enquire about dinner show specials and group discounts. Call the theatre on 011 883-8606 or book online: www.computicket.com or tel. the call centre: 0861 915 8000