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Amee Lekas’s Die Dans van die Watermeid (The Dance of the Water Maiden), which was chosen for development at the Kunste Onbeperk’s inaugural Teksmark (script market) initiative in Cape Town last year, comes to life at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 1 to 25 November at 8.15pm or 8.30pm, with Saturday matinees on 4 and 11 November at 3pm.

Lekas’s debut script was selected (out of 14 entries) at a presentation of short extracts by the Nasionale Afrikaanse Teater-inisiatief (NATi) and the Baxter Theatre Centre and will now be lifted from the page and brought to the stage as a full-scale production, directed by Jason Jacobs with a stellar cast. Rehane Abrahams (Womb of Fire, The Real People) leads the ensemble alongside Abduragman Adams (Suidooster, Noem my Skollie), Elton Landrew (Kat and the Kings, Boesman & Lena), Ephraim Gordon (Die laaste karretjiegraf, Blood Brothers), Gretchen Ramsden (Portret, Agamemnon) and Celeste Matthews-Wannenburgh (Suip!, District Six The Musical).

Teksmark was launched in 2016 by Kunste Onbeperk, the company behind the hugely popular annual Klein Karoo National Arts Festival with the express purpose to serve as a platform for writers to submit texts and text ideas to the industry for possible further development. The initiative is supported by NATi and the Baxter Theatre Centre. The second Teksmark coincides with the run of Die Dans van die Watermeid and will take place at the Baxter on 7 and 8 November.

“Amee Lekas has a unique voice,” says Cornelia Faasen, executive director of NATi. “Talking and listening to her at once gave me the sense of an artist who is equally blessed with a beautiful innocence and the wisdom and language ability of someone who is a thousand years old, such is her impact as a young writer. It felt as if the work called out to be staged, to be performed and to give a voice to many of the voiceless in our communities.”Die Dans van die Watermeid, is a heart-breaking story set against the backdrop of the picturesque Willowmore in the arid Klein Karoo where Lekas grew up. It offers a unique look at the people from the region in a script that is powerful, without undermining the inherent simplicity. The story revolves around how they hold on to their superstitions in spite of the influence of the church. It also addresses social issues, such as today’s young people who struggle without the prospect of a job or a better life, while these communities sweep things under the carpet. And all this, right under the nose of the church. Meanwhile, the rhythm of the water nymph’s dance reverberates with the promise of deliverance when the rain comes.

Twenty-six year old Lekas, a Stellenbosch University Drama graduate, completed the text under the mentorship of acclaimed playwright Saartjie Botha. In the process, she had the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of the water nymph – a mythical figure who wasn’t only a messenger of a portent, but an integral part of a community’s history. Lekas explains, “Only in my anxiety and frustration as an artist, did I first recognise the pain of others. Purely through the grace of telling the story of Die Dans van die Watermeid, did I have the opportunity to create something from my own distress in the hope that people will become aware of the pain of those around them.”

Director Jason Jacobs, known for his work Kalahari Swan, In Wag Van and Stof Rooi is the recipient of the 2016 Kunste Onbeperk award for New Voice in Theatre. For Die Dans van die Watermeid he is under the mentorship of Lara Foot, director and CEO of the Baxter Theatre Centre.

It is produced by Cornelia Faasen and Hugo Theart on behalf of NATi and the Baxter Theatre Centre, with set and costume design by Birrie le Roux, lighting design by Patrick Curtis and sound design by Pierre-Henri Wicomb.

Die Dans van die Watermeid runs from 1 to 25 November in the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio at 8.15pm or 8.30pm, with Saturday matinees on 4 and 11 November at 3pm.

Tickets are R120 and there is an Early Bird R50 Special available for shows up to and including 11 November. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.co.za or at any Shoprite or Checkers. For block bookings contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email sharon.ward@uct.ac.za, or Carmen Kearns at 021 680 3993, email carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za

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