Stage guru promises run of world-class productions
Bay theatre guru Robin Williams is tackling 2015 head on with a groundbreaking theatre initiative – one she has described as “the most exciting project I’ve taken on in years”. For starters, Williams has managed to secure the rights to stage a Tony award-winning Broadway and West End play right here in the Bay.
Williams, a leading lady, director and drama teacher extraordinaire who has set many a young actor on their own path to national and international success, plans to stage Other Desert Cities, by Jon Robin Baitz, at the Savoy Theatre in June.
To secure the rights to stage the play in South Africa for the first time – a coup in its own right – Williams spent four months e-mailing back and forth, and engaging in some pretty tough negotiations with agency bigwigs in Los Angeles.
And she will stage the production in an entirely fresh way that many theatre lovers in this city are unlikely to have seen before – “by stripping away all unnecessary elements and telling a story that is raw and true”.
Williams, whose eyes positively sparkle when she talks about her new “baby”, has already spent many hours at the Savoy in Adcockvale with fellow production experts like Dave Limbert to get her intimate theatre seating concept just right.
“There will only be 80 seats and these will be on the actual stage, making patrons part of the play, as it were,” she said. “No matter where you sit, you will see perfectly.
“We will have minimalist sets, great acting, flawless lighting and technically spectacular productions.
“And Other Desert Cities is just the start – my plan is to do several productions a year under the banner of Platform Productions, the new company I’ve started.”
Williams has also applied for the rights to stage an award-winning musical comedy to follow Other Desert Cities, though she did not want to say too much about it at this stage.
“Patrons will be able to buy season tickets for these productions. My aim is to bring a completely new energy – and world-class plays and musicals – to our city in the process.
“Port Elizabeth has always had an incredible theatre history and appreciation for the arts.
“We need to inspire the next generation of young actors and theatre goers.”
Other Desert Cities was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer prize for drama. It involves a family with differing political views and a long-held secret.
“When I read the script, I absolutely could not put it down,” Williams said.
– Louise Liebenberg