THE TONY-AWARD WINNING PLAY!
By Terrence McNally | Directed by Gregg Pettigrew | Produced by Frans Swart (Lefra Productions)
Music Consultant: Bryan Schimmel
Choreographer: Danse des Cygnes staged by Mark Hawkins after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
With Boris Petrenko | Glenn Swart | James Van Helsdingen | Matthew Barrett | Mauritz Badenhorst
Richard White | Schoeman Smit | Tristin Focherini
John Kani, The Market Theatre. 56 Margaret Mcingana street, Newton, Johannesburg
Previews: Tuesday, 16 November @ 19:00 | Wednesday, 17 November @ 19:00
19 November to 12 December 2021: Tuesdays to Saturdays @ 19:00; Saturdays and Sunday @ 15:00
AGE RESTIRCTION: NO UNDER 16’S (NUDITY)
More information at: www.lovevalour.co.za
Eight men confront their lives, loves and friendships over the three successive holiday weekends, at a farmhouse in Duchess County, New York. Winner of the 1995 Tony Award for Best Play, Love! Valour! Compassion! explores the lives, loves, and fears of eight gay men in the 1990s. Over the course of the summer, the men’s conversations touch on themes of infidelity, flirting, AIDS, skinny-dipping, and questions about life and death. It's a comedy about some comparatively privileged gay people in a world whose problems are ultimately shared by everyone.
“For me personally, I have always said that Love! Valour! Compassion! may use eight gay men as its vehicle for the story, but it is a play that’s message truly transcends sexual orientation boundaries”, say Gregg Pettigrew, Director of the production. “It is a play that every human being will take a message from and relate to. I am proud to be heading the production that will carry the blazing torch of hope for the South African entertainment industry to get back to work after going through our own doldrums for so many months”.
According to Producer Frans Swart, the themes in Love! Valour! Compassion! are universal. “Difference and unity, creatively entwined, create a vivid portrait, not of gay identity, but of human interaction. McNally breaks down stereotypes by presenting contrasting characters who depicts gay men as a group of very different individuals, whilst at the same time illustrating the strong bonds and community connections that develop as a result of outside subjugation. These themes are now more relevant than ever. It is a beautiful love story,” says Swart. “Gregg has done a marvellous job in directing the production, and under his direction the play sweeps effortlessly along as the characters fall in and out of love, argue, swim, dine, sleep, flirt and talk, which they do especially well!”
Gregory (Glenn Swart), the host of the gatherings, is a successful but aging choreographer trying to complete what may be his last major work. Bobby (Matthew Barrett), his blind and much younger live-in boyfriend loves him but is still discovering who he is and what he wants from the world. John (James van Helsdingen) is a cynical, mean-spirited, failed English playwright, relegated to working as a rehearsal pianist for Gregory's company. His twin brother, James, a costumer for the National Theatre of Great Britain, is as kind and compassionate as John is angry and alienated. He is also dying of AIDS. Ramon (Tristin Focherini) is John's current boyfriend. He is a young, handsome, and talented Puerto Rican dancer just beginning his career. He is also filled with confidence, brimming with sexuality, and very attracted to Bobby. Perry (Mauritz Badenhorst) and Arthur (Richard White) are the group's "role models." Although they constantly bicker and feud, the lawyer and accountant have been together for fourteen years and are often the force of stability in an otherwise chaotic world. Finally, there is Buzz (Schoeman Smit), the highly charged and hilarious costumer for Gregory's company who is obsessed with musical theatre, always ready with a sarcastic one-liner, and is usually the life of the party. Like James, he is HIV-positive, and his high jinks often mask his troubled spirit.
Theatre goers will find a formula that has worked well for McNally in some of his other successes: a group of characters gathered together for a weekend of talking, laughing, and exploring the boundaries of their relationships and some of life's more profound and difficult questions. In his introduction to the published play, McNally revealed, "I wanted to write about what it's like to be a gay man at this particular moment in our history. I think I wanted to tell my friends how much they've meant to me. I think I wanted to tell everyone else who we are when they aren't around."
Mostly comic, the play manages to include elements of seriousness and even tragedy. It employs some unconventional theatrical techniques. The stage is mostly bare, the scenery imagined, and each of the characters takes turns narrating the action, alternately speaking directly to the audience and to one another. It is, as the 1997 film version of the play was billed, an outrageous mix of the The Big Chill and The Bird Cage.
This play tugs at the heart strings as well as provides the audience with ample opportunity for a good laugh as well as a healthy dose of titillation. By turns soul-searching and hilarious, the play sings with truth about all humans and their interpersonal relationships. The central theme of this play is friendship and it transcends sexual orientation ensuring that every member of the audience will leave with clear message, that, “Friendship is everything!”