by Barbara von Ahlefeldt ~
Rarely these days, given the economic situation, expensive long distance travel and the ever-rising cost of living, are we able to feel free to enjoy the privilege of theatre going. Here in Smithfield, however, we are afforded the exhilarating experiences each year at the end of June when we stage our very own Platteland Preview - plays being rehearsed for the famous Grahamstown Festival in July.
In the 1960's when we lived in London we would take day-trips by rail to the Chichester Festival to enjoy experimental theatre with upcoming or famous actors. There, amongst many other world class plays, we saw Lawrence Olivier doing Shakespeare's Othello. In the 1970's, as UK residents, we would reserve seats months ahead at the Shakespeare Theatre or to enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals in London's West End, apart from all the other choices one had.
From afar those images easily spring to mind. But now here we are in Smithfield (and have been for nearly 20 years) able to enjoy something similar in our small, interesting and lively little highveld dorpie. This year my absolute favourite show was The Return of Elvis du Pisanie, a national award winning play. The actor Lionel Newton (picture by Kitty Schneider), under the guidance of Andre Odendaal, gave a solo performance that would stand tall against any West End or New York actors. What a tour de force. From the minute he swayed onto the stage to the sounds of an Elvis Presley song, he held us in thrall for the entire hour. What a play. What an actor. What an experience.
Our thanks again to Carmel Rickard for creating the opportunity for the Smithfield Platteland Preview to happen. Now, in its third year, Irene Swanepoel has been at the helm this year with her highly efficient team. We were once again able to wallow in our choices from 13 shows, several art exhibitions and many other town events and entertainment. There was something for everyone - be it fun, challenging, interesting or plain Excellent!
Please make sure you come to our Platteland Preview next year. You will not regret it.