One of the most enticing productions at this year’s Aardklop, running from October 4 to 9 in Potchefstroom, is the hit play from Edinburgh, London and New York, Thom Pain. It’s a Pulitzer Prize finalist by US playwright Will Eno, who is described as the Jon Stewart generation’s Samuel Becket.
It is a sad and disturbingly funny exploration of the difficulties of mastering the basics of life: dogs, bees, child-hood, a pink elephant and love.
Albert Pretorius (pictured, Binnelanders Sub Judice), who blew everyone away with a magnificent performance in …miskien, which is playing at Aardklop on its way from Grahamstown and Oudtshoorn, is Thom Pain, an everyman trying to make sense of the world and his place in it with nothing but a slim-fit suit and sharp wit. He is just like all of us, but worse.
He is directed by the award-winning Tara Notcutt (Fleur du Cap and Silver Ovation Awards for …miskien and a recent fellow at the Director’s Lab of the famed Lincoln Center Theatre in New York City).
The playwright is one of the most sought-after young writers on the international theatre scene with his well crafted, cutting-edge plays. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he lives in Brooklyn, New York City. Apart from Thom Pain he has also written Tragedy: a tragedy, The Flu Season, and King: a problem play.
Thom Pain had great success in Edinburgh, London, and New York City and continues to be presented across the world in various languages.
The production pushes the boundaries of language, writing and creativity, as well as the ability of the actor and the audience to reach a cathartic outcome. The best thing about this work which speaks to a broad audience, is that it particularly targets a younger, new theatre audience and deals with important questions about the value of the individual in society.
The playwright also turns to the audience and engages their help for dramatic interaction between the actor and the audience, which creates a sometimes conspiratorial, and at others, adversarial dialogue, and draws the audience into the centre of the piece.
Director Notcutt and Pretorius are members of The Pink Couch, a Cape Town-based theatre collective that produced …miskien and have just returned from the Amsterdam Fringe Festival where this work was presented as a Best of Grahamstown Fringe 2011 production.
With Thom Pain, get ready for some stand-up existentialism, says Thomas Channell, who first discovered and is now promoting the production. And while you’re contemplating these bright young things appearing on our stages, take the time to travel for a Maritz/Nott extravaganza and include …miskien and Thom Pain in your package.