Press release: Eurydice, site-specific theatre

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Performances at Cape Town High School (96 Hatfield St, Gardens, Cape Town)

9 – 12 March 2022
Directed and Adapted by Kanya Viljoen
Translated by Kanya Viljoen and Qondiswa James
With Qondiswa James, Ydalie Turk, Francesco Nassimbeni, Thukelo Maka, Seth Louw, Darren Cloete, Faylene van Rooyen, Andoné Strydom and Karla Luyt
Design Kanya Viljoen and Nell van der Merwe
Dramaturgy Emilie Badenhorst
Stage-Managers Keandri van Wyk and Kayla Dunne
In association with Theatre Arts Admin, The Drama Factory, Jan van Riebeeck High School, and City Bowl Park
Tickets: General R140.00
Concession R120.00

Unusual Bones., in association with Kanya Viljoen, Qondiswa James, Theatre Arts Admin, The Drama Factory, Jan van Riebeeck High School, and City Bowl Park present Eurydice – a local take on Sarah Ruhl’s text based on the Greek myth, Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice will debut in an empty abandoned swimming pool in Cape Town city centre. The infamous myth is reimagined to focus on the journey of its heroine as the play deals with themes of love, loss, remembrance and reminiscence.

Kanya Viljoen says:

“I remember reading Eurydice for the first time and being drawn to the world that had been created – the bizarre, heartbreaking, strikingly familiar experience of womanhood and femininity. In the last two years I found myself coming back to the text, dreaming of pools, vast empty spaces, and people waiting for one another. As Covid regulations started to shift, the opportunity of staging Eurydice became clear. Working on this play I am continuously struck by the idea of loss. A loss of time, a loss of place, a loss of one another and the constant fight to re-member, to re-construct, to re-call.”

Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl’s internationally-acclaimed contemporary play, has been translated and adapted by Kanya Viljoen and Qondiswa James to sit within a South African context – translated into Afrikaaps, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. The use of multiple languages creates a sense of the power dynamics experienced within these languages in South Africa. This multicultural and multilingual piece hopes to create a dialogue around young South Africans and the way we fall in and out of love with one another.

Qondiswa James say:

“I've always wanted to live in Eurydice’s world, one in which she becomes herself, more than an object for Orpheus’ story in the original myth, as we investigate her and sit with her hopes and desires. There’s a great deal of feminist work being done here, to decentralise the man’s story, and instead to find and give space for femme narratives, to give ourselves full lives in colour. It’s been interesting finding how isiXhosa and Afrikaans move through the English of this text, how the poetics become layered in new and complex ways to guide us to richer meaning, or feeling. How this iteration deepens the poetics of forgetfulness, and asks questions about collective memory in a context of a disparate and segregated country and world.”

The choice of staging the play in an empty swimming pool seeks to allow theatre to move away from passive viewership to active engagement with an experience. It invites an audience to a “pool party”, to a space where they themselves need to position, locate and engage with the performers as extensions of themselves. The focus moves from product to experimental process, and the bodies and identities that might otherwise be excluded from traditional contexts.

The conceptualisation of the piece, as a site-specific performance in a swimming pool outside, allows for a large audience in a Covid-friendly environment, as it would be performed in the open air. This is also far safer for the performers, as the pool allows for large space between them. Furthermore, the large nature of a pool could lead to increasing the amount of seating and audience attendance at this event.

Unusual Bones. is a collective of creatives in Cape Town, that seeks to explore alternative and interdisciplinary ways of creating projects through a collaborative framework. The collective, founded by Kanya Viljoen and Emilie Badenhorst, seeks to question and explore the human spirit in South Africa. The vision of Unusual Bones. is to gently command a change in the social attitudes of South Africans through gutsy, honest, and excellent stories, amplifying the “othered” voices in our local community. The collective carves out safe spaces for South African women to revive their creative expression in an industry that is often ruled by vertical hierarchies and “set methods”.


Kanya Viljoen graduated cum laude from the University of Cape Town with a specialisation in Theatre and Performance. Recently, Kanya completed her MA in Practice as Research as an Andrew W Mellon scholar and graduated with distinction. She is a founding member of Unusual Bones. an interdisciplinary creative company working in both film, theatre and performance art. Kanya has received awards, bursaries and nominations for her work as a writer, director and performer in both theatre and film.

Qondiswa James is a cultural worker living in Cape Town, South Africa. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, performance artist, film and theatre performer, installation artist, writer, arts facilitator and activist. Her work engages the socio-political imagination towards mobilising transgression.

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