- Richard Poplak
The ultimate masterpiece of American musical theatre, West Side Story, has just opened in Cape Town. Produced by Eric Abraham and the Fugard Theatre, this is a mammoth and hugely ambitious multimillion-rand production which showcases extraordinary local talent from set, lighting, sound and costume design to choreography and musical and stage performance. It's a costly gamble for the producers in a lean and mean economic climate. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The philosopher Harry Frankfurt argued that the ability to overcome impulses in pursuit of longer-term desires is what distinguishes humans from animals. We are able to reflect on our desires, and decide whether to follow them. In other words, we can exercise will. But how does willpower work? Where does it come from? And how can we better harvest it? By ANDREA TEAGLE.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has just led a delegation to China ostensibly to learn more about how the country’s state-owned broadcast media works. However, as the Democratic Alliance’s shadow communications minister Gavin Davis put it, going to China to learn about media is like going to the Sudan to learn about human rights. That China is ranked by Reporters Without Borders as 177th out of 180 countries in its worldwide index of press freedom appears to be of little concern to the minister. Meanwhile, the Independent Group, which has a 20% Chinese stake, has dispatched one of its deputy editors to China on a 10-month media scholarship. By MARIANNE THAMM.
For four decades cartoonist Tom Moore, who died last week aged 86, drew a comic book hero whose superpowers proved more resilient than those gifted by Spiderman's radioactive spider bite or Superman’ ability to recharge using solar radiation. For much of the 20th century the blandly average, ginger-haired, freckle-faced perpetual teenager Archie Andrews became a mascot for white, heterosexual males and their uncontested dominance. Until Archie died last year taking a bullet for a gay friend. He was reborn this month looking like a 1D band member surrounded by a diverse new crew. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Remember when all your friends had a great dot.org idea, all of which were one click away from transforming the world into a rainbow-tinged Utopia? Me neither. But then my circle doesn’t include an Oxford/Harvard/Kennedy School Brahman like Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz. The site focuses on change through online petitioning, and it is currently “helping” concerned South Africans battle the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) draconian proposed internet regulations. But middle-class South Africans don’t need help to not leave the house for a good cause. RICHARD POPLAK wonders if Avaaz hasn’t finally perfected the art of whining from behind electrified walls.
You can’t go far wrong with a bunch of happy singing nuns. There’s something about seeing the staid suddenly explode into life that instantly gets you smiling. That’s the essence of Sister Act, a well-proven package with a hit movie and successful runs on Broadway and in London, writes LESLEY STONES.
As far as documentaries go, Decolonising Wits is, well, different. If you're a fan of structure, plot, narrative and characters, even in a broad sense, it's difficult to watch. The film also lacks context, making it hard to learn anything. The director has latched onto documenting student politics right when it matters, but sadly that doesn't mean you should go see it. By GREG NICOLSON.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the death of South African theatre pioneer, Barney Simon, the Baxter Theatre has revived ‘Born In The RSA’, one of his most successful theatre collaborations. This new production, however, exposes the weaknesses of workshopped, documentary theatre – a format which served its purpose at the time. Today the work is little more than a one-dimensional cultural and educational curiosity. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Between 70% and 80% of maize consumed in South Africa is genetically modified, and ours is the only country in the world whose staple is primarily GMO. So what? Three decades after its adoption, GM maize remains contentious. ANDREA TEAGLE takes a look at some of the risks and benefits of South Africa’s beloved mielie today.
It’s easy to be cynical about the Millennium Development Goals, that lofty set of aspirations drawn up in 2000 to measure social progress by 2015. But in one respect, there’s no denying success. According to a new report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), the Aids targets of the Millennium Development Goals have been not just achieved, but exceeded – ahead of schedule. By REBECCA DAVIS.
After the arrest of Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake in London, the African Union – through its Peace and Security Council – threw its full weight behind Rwanda’s outraged claims of abuse and manipulation. But how did Rwanda make a bilateral issue into a continental crusade? And does this case really have anything to do with universal jurisdiction? By the PSC REPORT.
“Until such time as the voice of the lion is heard, history will be written to glorify the hunter.” This powerful African proverb reversed out of a plain black screen grips the audience’s attention from the first frames of a riveting documentary. To be premiered on 22 July at the Durban International Film Festival, Blood Lions uncovers the ugly story behind South Africa’s predator breeding and canned lion hunting industry, and a team of filmmakers and conservationists who, with single-minded determination, are campaigning to have it banned. By PETER BORCHERT.
While gay rights have been spearing a wave of human rights advances in western democracies – most recently the extension of ‘marriage’ to include same-sex marriage in the US and Ireland – in Africa, the trend is moving in the opposite direction. A recent report released by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) sought to disprove, systematically and scientifically, the false claims used to justify persecution and discrimination of LGBTi people across the continent. By ANDREA TEAGLE.
'Nothing in Jurassic World is natural!' proclaims Henry Wu, the chief scientist in Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World. And to complicate matters even further, he explains how even the DNA used to 'create' the animals is not authentic dinosaur DNA: gaps in the ancient genome have been filled with that of different living animals. In a movie such as this the public is often left wondering what is fact and what is fiction. Allow me to unravel some of this confusion. By PROFESSOR ANUSUYA CHINSAMY-TURAN.
Last week, the compensation programme for survivors of the brutal Magdalene laundries kicked off. Yet something’s not right: in order to qualify for compensation, victims waive all rights against the state. And still the Church wants nothing to do with it. Think it couldn’t happen again? Think again. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.