Theatre Review: Skop!


By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 24 May 2018
Category: Review
brainwavez.org Comments View Comments

Share

A live-performance artist, a musician, and an Afrikaans slam poet spend just under an hour crafting sound, playing with your attention, and offering you ruminations on life in the experimental theatre piece Skop!.

I first saw Skop! last year when it debuted at the Cape Town Fringe Festival. It is one of the most interesting live theatre shows I've ever watched and I was thoroughly entertained even though I wasn't sure that I understood anything that was going on.

I've been waiting months to be able to watch it again - partly because it is so interesting and partly to see if I could derive more meaning and understanding upon a second viewing. Thankfully it has finally appeared at Alexander Upstairs, which gave me a chance to go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Theatre Review: Skop!
Above: Sjaka S Septembir performs in Skop! at the Cape Town Fringe Festival in 2017.
Skop! is experimental theatre featuring three concurrent performances. Prominently positioned in the centre is Sjaka S Septembir performing his poetry in a slam style. (South African comics fans will know Septembir as one of the co-creators of the graphic novel Bal-Oog & Brommel: Moord In Ixiastraat.) The poetry, which touches on the themes of life - sex, love, growing up, connection and disconnection - is entirely in Afrikaans so if this isn't your first language you will struggle to understand some of the meaning and will miss the nuances. Nevertheless his performance is powerful and the words are lyrical and beautiful, even when what they are describing is ugly or unpleasant, or too hedonistic for my taste.

Off to one side musician Gertjie Besselsen adds a soundtrack to the words using a variety of live sound effects recreated into loops, as well as distortion effects, which he then accompanies with musical instruments, such as the guitar, accordion, and an angle grinder (the show is worth seeing just for that moment). It's fascinating to watch, especially if you're interested in the mechanics of the construction of music. The styles dip into blues and rock, as well as industrial, and are designed to complement Septembir's words and anchor the entire show.

Theatre Review: Skop!
Above: Isabelle Grobler during a performance of Skop! at the Cape Town Fringe Festival in 2017.
More mystifying is Isabelle Grobler off to the other side, who spends the entirety of the show laying out a table setting of vintage cutlery and crockery. She does it in slow motion, frequently pausing to stare off into space in what I interpret as a sense of limbo with a touch of despondency. Her performance is utterly mesmerising and its relevance (or a relevance) eventually becomes apparent at the end of the show. As slowly as Grobler moves, you'll find that, having become distracted from watching her by either the music or the poetry, you'll glance back to see a new item has appeared on the table without you having seen it happen. I don't know if it's intentional but it's an interesting exploration of attention control, which magicians should find particularly intriguing.

These concurrent performances are both Skop!'s strength and its weakness as each one is interesting enough to be its own show. Together they fight for your attention, causing you to miss some of what's going on, which is one of the reasons that I needed to see Skop! twice before reviewing it (and, honestly, I still feel that I should watch it a few more times just to try to understand the poetry better.)

On a technical side the lighting was slightly better during the Cape Town Fringe Festival, where the show was staged at the UCT Bindery Lab at the UCT Little Theatre Complex in Gardens. I also felt the show physically fitted a bit better there, where the stage area is sightly bigger. The production doesn't quite fit in the small Alexander Upstairs space - I feel that it needs a little more breathing room even though the staging and props are relatively minimalist.

Theatre Review: Skop!
Above: Gertjie Besselsen performs in Skop! at Alexander Upstairs last night.
The sound is also problematic, with the music occasionally drowning out, or fighting against, Septembir's words. I noticed this at times during both performances, though it more frequently occurred at Alexander Upstairs. At Alexander Upstairs the Septembir's microphone was also left on as he repositioned the stand or the microphone on the stand between poems, which causes that crunching feedback sound, and I think it would have been classier if it had been switched off during those moments.

These are all minor quibbles, however. This production is fantastic and I'm grateful that Alexander Upstairs has picked up the show, which has, sadly, been turned down by a number of festivals since the Cape Town Fringe Festival. Perhaps it's too experimental or perhaps the audience support isn't there, which is very unfortunate, but I think this show deserves much more love than it's received.

Whether or not Afrikaans (or experimental theatre) is your forte it's worth your time to see this show - I cannot emphasise this enough. This is art so if you don't understand the meaning you can derive your own, although Septembir's performance makes most things clear enough.

Skop! is one of my all time favourite theatre productions and I want more people to experience the intriguing joy that I experience when I watch this.

Alexander Bar: Official Site, Facebook, Twitter
Cape Town Fringe Festival: Official Site, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter


Mandy J Watson was a media guest of the 2017 Cape Town Fringe Festival and Alexander Upstairs. Skop! is directed by Sandra Temmingh and performed by Sjaka S Septembir and Isabelle Grobler, with live music by Gertjie Besselsen. There are two more performances of Skop! at Alexander Upstairs, one tonight and the second tomorrow night. Both are at 19:00. Tickets are R90 online or R100 at the door.

Tags: arts and culture, Cape Town


Support brainwavez.org's Independent JournalismKo-fi
Donate via Ko-fiAt brainwavez.org our mission is to publish quality content for the web site and our airwavez channel on YouTube. We research, we fact check, and we revise before publishing. We focus on in depth reporting and are proud that much of what's in the archives is still worth reading years later.

Please support our independent journalism with a tip via Ko-fi. Every bit helps and is much appreciated.

You Might Also Like




brainwavez.org Comments Speak Your Mind









Search brainwavez.org
Highlights
Support Independent Journalism!Ko-fi
Donate via Ko-fiAt brainwavez.org our mission is to publish quality content for the web site and our airwavez channel on YouTube. We research, we fact check, and we revise before publishing. Please support our independent journalism with a tip via Ko-fi.
brainwavez.org Network
Editorial Contacts
South Africa Mandy J Watson
Founder and co-editor
Cape Town, South Africa

United States Jase Luttrell
Co-editor
Portland, Oregon, United States
Subscribe!
Feed delivery RSS
Subscribe to RSS updates in a feed reader


Email delivery Email Delivery
Subscribe to RSS updates via email


Newsletter delivery Monthly Newsletter

powered by TinyLetter


South African Comics
• All The Coverage: Reviews, art showcases, and news from the world of South African (and occasionally Southern African) comics.
  • News Roundup: April 2018
  • News: Defenders Of Eden
  • News: Comics Residency In Sweden
  • News Roundup: January 2018
  • News Roundup: October 2017
  • #sacomics Cast Episode #5
  • News Roundup: July 2017
  • News Roundup: June 2017
  • Older Posts

• Calendar Of Events: Find out what's happening in May and beyond.
  • 3-26 May: Not As A Ghost
  • 5 May: FCBD: Readers Den
  • 5 May: FCBD: Cosmic Comics
  • 5 May: Travel Comics Workshop
  • 8 May: Zine Party
  • 9 May: Kariba Launch CPT
  • 12 May: Open Art Sketch Meet
  • 17 May: Kariba Launch JHB
  • 18-20 May: Franschhoek Lit Fest
  • 19-20 May: GeekFest
  • 23-25 May: Skop!
  • 26 May: Open Art Sketch Meet
  • 28 May-2 June: Bal-Oog En Brommel

#sacomics Calendar
Save The Date:
More events

Explore The Archives
From The Archives


★ More from the archives.

More From The Archives

Cappuccino Quest

airwavez
Shop | RaruRaru
Funko Pop! Games - Witcher Geralt Vinyl Figure


Chew Volume 1: Taster's ChoiceShop online

Ads | Google
Shop | Things From Another WorldThings From Another World
Web specials - save 30% or more!