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Fringe Winner Itsoseng Transfers, Rivers Extends

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South African hit Itsoseng, which today won a Fringe First in Edinburgh (See Today’s Other News), will transfer next month to London’s Soho Theatre, where it will have a limited season from 8 to 27 September 2008.

Billed as “a scathing indictment of government indifference, cynicism and incompetence in a ’forgotten’ South African township”, Itsoseng (which means “wakes yourself up”) is written and performed by Omphile Molusi, a native of the depressed township of the title. It tells the story of Mawilla, a young man who loses the love of his life, a girl named Dolly, to prostitution. He watches Dolly\'s steady decline as the township he loves withers, first under the rule of the apartheid government, then an inexperienced, apathetic government.

The 24-year-old Molusi was the first recipient of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Brett Goldin Bursary Award, which offers a young South African actor the opportunity to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon for classical training with the company.

The bursary was founded after the young South African actor, Brett Goldin, was murdered in April 2006 (See News, 25 Apr 2006), just days before he was due to leave for Stratford to perform the role of Guildenstern in the Baxter Theatre Centre’s production of Hamlet, directed by Janet Suzman, as part of the RSC Complete Works Festival. Founded by the RSC, the Actors Centre in Johannesburg and the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town, the fund was kick-started by donations from RSC associate artist Antony Sher, along with RSC honorary associate artist Janet Suzman.

Prior to its UK premiere in Edinburgh, Itsoseng played to sell-out South African audiences at the Baxter Theatre and the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. It’s directed by Tina Johnson and presented in London by Richard Jordan Productions Ltd. and Soho Theatre in association with Pleasance and The Baxter Theatre Centre, University of Cape Town.

Another Fringe hit, Joan Rivers: A Work in Progress by a Life in Progress, has extended its run in Edinburgh ahead of its two-pronged West End transfer (See News, 23 May 2008). After selling out, the American comedienne’s self-penned, autobiographical comedy will have four extra performances – on 16, 17, 20 and 25 August 2008 – at the Underbelly’s Cow Barn in Edinburgh over the next week.

It then moves to London to launch the new Leicester Square Theatre, previously The Venue, where it runs from 29 August to 18 September, and then returns from 2 December to 29 January 2009 prior to a Broadway transfer. During Rivers’ second stay in London, she’ll also be performing hostess duties at the launch party for the 2009 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards at the Café de Paris on 5 December (See News, 26 Jun 2008).

- by Terri Paddock



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