In the year of its diamond anniversary, The Masque Theatre is polishing its tiara and planning a reboot in theatre worthy of its 60-year history.
“Diamonds are forever and so is The Masque Theatre,” says
Daniel Enticott, vice-chairperson of The Masque Board.
“Amid constant whispers that theatre worldwide is dying, this theatre is going strong; and our reboot plans are focusing on the future. The Masque rose from literal ashes when it was burned to the ground, and we have no intention of doing the last curtain call,” he said.
The theatre’s reboot kicks off with a massive party tomorrow Friday January 25 which is a birthday celebration and offers the chance for a bit of fancy dress. It will be followed by an intense and well-thought out roll-out of the most popular plays in the theatre’s history over the rest of the year.
The shows have been specially selected by directors from all amdram (amateur dramatics) groups who use the theatre from a list of the very best performers.
There’s even the chance to buy VIP seats which will be reserved for you to see all the reboot shows for the year, a programme, drinks and have meet-and-greets with the cast afterwards for R500.
The theatre’s multi-faceted use is part of its strength, but so are the people that pour their passions into the productions that take to the stage throughout the year.
A handful of these folk met with the False Bay Echo last week to provide glimpses into the minds and hearts of those who breathe life onto the stage.
Aubrey Hindle, treasurer of Fish Hoek Dramatic Society; Jane Philbrick, chairperson of Fish Hoek Dramatic Society; Sue Wilkes, director of Pygmalion for Muizenberg Dramatic Society; Wayne Ronne, social media and PR consultant; Patricia Kitson, Masque Theatre manager and Daniel Enticott, vice-chairperson of The Masque Board; Lynn Moss, director for Educating Rita for Claremont Dramatic Society; and Barbara Basel, director for Run for Your Wife, as well as, The Importance of Being Earnest, all shared their stories of association with the theatre, their plans and little bits about the upcoming shows they were all working on.
Most of them are veterans of both stage and production and have acted in and directed a host of the shows. They point to The Masque Theatre’s wall and pick out their productions with well-earned pride.
The word “amateur” sticks in their craws just a little. The only differentiation really, they say, is that professionals are paid for their work whereas they are not.
It truly is a love affair, a slight madness, and they each have so much more to share; and they are very excited by the increasing involvement and interest in theatre by millennials.
Ms Basel is involved in two shows for the reboot as director for Run for Your Wife, as well as, The Importance of Being Earnest. She says one day she will do something darker and more serious, to a chorus of protestations from the group present who praise her comedic genius and say she is a master of timing.
“Still – there is place yet for something definitely more serious to get my teeth into,” she says. It is this, that epitomises the group’s versatility.
Ms Basel also breaks tradition a little with her shows, placing them in local settings and adding local vernacular to the shows to bring them closer to home. “For one thing, it certainly saves us the horror of trying to perfect British accents,” she laughed.
Lynn Moss is directing the theatre’s first reboot show, Educating Rita. She says the challenge is not in reinventing a classic, but in revealing how the issues that existed then are still relevant today, in class separation.
Ms Moss hails from the very area that Educating Rita was set in, so she brings first hand understanding to the play. “I chose it because of its enduring relevance and I am so excited about the chance to direct it here at The Masque,” she said.
The theatre is used by youth theatre groups in the area and Cape Town Ballet, it’s used for improv evenings, comedy and music shows, and the group of directors enthused about the uptake of theatre experience by the youth.
“Theatre is now filling the gap in experience that technology has left; it’s the most extraordinary thing to see, millennials utterly enchanted by and engaged in the live show in front of them –
their phones forgotten,” said Ms Wilkes.
They all agree that this is heartening since the future of the theatre will rest in the hands, and hearts, of this generation. And while there are plenty new shows waiting in the wings, this year’s reboot will serve their faithful theatre patrons and act as perfect introductions to the magic behind curtain calls, to the new.
This group, the faces behind the shows, wants to plaster all the walls with posters of shows they have done and fill the halls with the sound of the brass gong, the only remaining artifact from the previous theatre, signalling the start of the next show.
The five reboot shows are: Educating Rita which will be on stage Wednesday February 13, Run For Your Wife on Wednesday March 27, Proof on Wednesday May 15, The Importance of Being Earnest on Wednesday June 5 and Calendar Girls on December 11.
But first: book your spot to celebrate the birthday event tomorrow night, dressed as your favourite theatre character. Bookings at the Masque Theatre on 021 788 1898 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org There will be entertainment, raffles, prizes and snacks. Tickets are R50.