Le Cinematophone, a production by the Paris-based Oposito street theatre company, will usher in a new era at this year’s Arts Alive festival, in a process taking young South African artists to uncharted territories.
Le Cinematophone teaches us some essential lessons about how theatre can be taken to the streets. In the past 15 years their performances have taken place in such diverse environments as boulevards and even elevators. Using robots, puppets, innovative props and loud rhythms they tell a musical story of an opera singer who fantasies about memories of her beautiful voice.
The streets of Soweto, better known for the bloody battles of student uprisings, will this time resound with imitated sounds of crying animals, blaring opera music and disrupted telephone conversations.
The show uses no dialogue but only fascinating movements and mysterious gestures. Originally conceived by Oposito and Décor Sonore, Le Cinematophone was acclaimed as a hit during its 1998 European tour. Recently, it also toured the streets of Addis-Ababa featuring local artists there.
Oposito is a melting pot of artistic talents, consisting of actors, dancers, visual artists and musicians who put together their talents to create big productions.
In all their tours, they’ve shared skills with locals, using their experiences to enhance their creative talents. In South Africa, it has been a two-way process.
During workshops with local artists in Soweto, Oposito have collaborated with the Thesele Creative Society and devised a magnificent ‘surprise production” for the All Africa Games.
With their clear belief that street theatre is a unique language with deep cosmopolitan roots, inspired by poetry and the energy of the discoverer, Oposito provoke interaction as they mix people and styles to tell stories of various cities.
Finally, as part of the Arts Alive festival, it is the chance for the city of Johannesburg to enjoy culture in its streets.
Oposito will definitely make its mark on South African culture, and plans for bigger collaborations are underway. Indeed, the Thesele Creative Society will later in the year collaborate again with Oposito in a production that will tour Europe.
Oposito perform Le Cinematophone on August 29 at midday at the Protea North Shopping Complex in Soweto, and on 12th Avenue in Alexandra at midday on September 4