Jay Pather’s Qaphela Caesar

Choreographer Jay Pather’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar delivered on its promise of a massacre

A masked character from Jay Pather’s production Qaphela Caesar

CAPE TOWN — The programme notes to choreographer Jay
Pather’s recent production of Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar, entitled Qaphela Caesar, were unambiguous: they
promised “a multimedia massacre” — and pretty much delivered that.

An episodic
production staged across a variety of rooms in the revived former City Hall,
some still festooned with hoardings and banners bearing the 2010 World Cup
logos, Pather’s combination of dance, theatre, film, urban micro-tourism and punk
rock was not entirely an exercise in bathos. It was educative too.
The production comprised a large cast of dancers, actors and musicians
Midway through the somewhat over-long production, members
of the audience, who until then had quietly been ushered from room to room and made
to press up against the wall, were suddenly implicated in the action. Andrew da
Conceicao, a gallery director at Michael Stevenson gallery, was one such
victim. A quiet observer of the action, seemingly both bemused and
exhaustedby the stop-start routine of the production, he was unexpectedly asked
to read a line of dialogue.
“Intonation!” chided by the production’s narrator, who
also told off another reader for his “flat vowels”, a third for her lack of respect for the principles of “iambic pentameter”.
Dancers on the stairs of Cape Town’s old City Hall
Made possible by a creative award from the University of
Cape Town’s Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts, a new arts initiative
founded in late 2008 to bridge the divide between the academy and a wider
public, Pather’s adaptation of
Shakespeare’s political tragedy was originally staged at Hiddingh Hall in 2009.
The recent production at the former City hall, which earlier this year hosted the 2010 Spier Contemporary, included dancers from the Siwela Sonke Dance
Theatre Company, a dance company founded and directed by Pather while still based Durban. Since
2006 Pather has been Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town’s Drama
Department.
Pather’s production included dancers from the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre Company