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Playland at Empty Space Theatre

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. keyworthdavid@gmail.com https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-keyworth/49/b3a/b83 My debut poetry pamphlet is available at www.wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
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From South Africa to Salford
A play first performed in Johannesburg in 1992, directed by its author Athol Fugard, is coming to Salford's Media City.

Playland is set in a South African travelling amusement park on New Year's Eve 1989, a month or so prior to Nelson Mandela's release from Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990. The action takes place on the outskirts of the semi-desert expanse of the Karoo - a Bushman word for "dry place."

The story focuses on Gideon Le Roux - a white ex-soldier fresh from the Border War in Namibia who is suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The other protagonist is Martinus Zoeloe a black night-watchman. The two delve into their sordid pasts and the poisonous nature of recent history and their hopes for a post-apartheid South Africa.

Hope Mill Theatre, Danny Solomon, Jake Murray, Elysium Theatre Company, Queen's Hall Arts Centre Hexham, The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City, Athol Fugard, Playland, Faz Singhateh
Faz Singhateh and Danny Solomon. Photo: Lucy Ridges.


Playland is the latest visit to Greater Manchester by the Durham-based Elysium Theatre Company. In June, their production of August Strindberg's Miss Julie, was staged at Ancoats Hope Mill - originally built for spinning cotton c. 1824.

In May 2018 they arrived at HOME with Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Playland re-unites actors Danny Solomon as Gideon and Faz Singhateh as Martinus - from that production.

Both previous dramas were directed by Jake Murray - Elysium Theatre co-founder. He is also directing Playland.

Hope Mill Theatre, Danny Solomon, Jake Murray, Elysium Theatre Company, Queen's Hall Arts Centre Hexham, The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City, Athol Fugard, Playland, Faz Singhateh
Faz Singhateh rehearsing. Photo: Mark Russell.


He said: "I am very excited to bring this play to the North West and East for the first time. Playland is both a beautiful and moving play that resonates far beyond its immediate context to become about pain and reconciliation, guilt and repentance, "

Elysium was set up in 2016 to deliver 'the best new plays and world theatre to the North'. It was founded by Jake Murray, Danny Solomon and actress/ producer Hannah Ellis Ryan (recently seen scamming Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) in Coronation Street.), Elysium is currently Company In Residence at the Assembly Rooms, Durham.

Athol Fugard was born in Middelburg, South Africa in 1932 and grew up in Port Elizabeth, the setting for many of his plays. After spending two years at the University of Cape Town and working as a deckhand. He took up acting and then started to write his own plays.

Yvonne Bryceland, Danny Solomon, Jake Murray, Elysium Theatre Company, Queen's Hall Arts Centre Hexham, The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City, Athol Fugard, Playland, Faz Singhateh
Athol Fugard and actress. Yvonne Bryceland (1925 – 1992). Deur Onbekend - Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, PD-SA,https://af.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73663


The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City is a: "Brand New Theatre Space Media City - self-funded and built. Relaxed, atmosphere delivering live performance in a stunning venue five mins from Media City hub."

Media City, where both the BBC and ITV have studios, started life in 2007. The Media City tram stop opened in 2010. It was constructed for visitors and staff at the ITV and BBC studios - where programmes are filmed, including Match of the Day, Blue Peter and Mastermind.

There will be a Q&A with the cast and creatives after the show on Friday 1 November.

Directions: M50 2GL for sat nav. Turn off South Langworthy Road (opposite Futureskills) onto Kansas Avenue, take the second road on the right and The Empty Space is the second building on the left. There is limited parking directly outside the venue, or on the car park opposite at weekends and evenings; Metrolink – the closest station is Broadway, head away from the Quays towards South Langworthy Road and follow the driving directions above (five minutes walk). Bus – numbers 50 and 79 stop on South Langworthy Road close to Kansas Avenue.

Elysium Theatre Company, Queen's Hall Arts Centre Hexham, The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City, Athol Fugard, Playland, Faz Singhateh
Media City in construction February 2008

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Why? Northern premiere of Twentieth Century South African Drama
When: Thursday 31 October - Saturday 2 November 2019
Phone: 0161 713 3026
Where: The Empty Space @ Footlights House, Media City
Cost: £10.50 / £8.50
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