The stage is adorned with props and the mood is set. Mooi Street has moved into the State Theater and after many elevator doors and turns, we finally descend into the stomach of Pretoria’s arts precinct.
The Momentum Theater, is secluded and dim. Theo Landey who plays (Henry Stone) alongside Motlatsi Mafatshe (Stix Letsebe) sheds a bit of light on the show.
“Hendry is from outside the city. He comes to look for his brother in Johannesburg. In a time before Email or SMS, so you’d just rock up or write a letter. The play gives you hope especially in these times we’re living in right now. The characters are from opposite parts of the world. Opposite colours, Different classes. They are unfamiliar with each other but they make a plan to live harmoniously. We don’t get too many good stories like this. The play was written in 1992 in another time of civil unrest. It was atomic because it made people feel better about the situation. It gave them hope that things would get better.”
It is 1992 in Hillbrow Johannesburg, when “Mooi Street Moves” takes a tragicomic look at a white country bumpkin Henry Stone and a black urban hustler Stix Letsebe whom are trapped dealing with the remnants of apartheid and a dawn of a new nation at the same time.
Faced with the unknown a devastated Henry shows up at Stix’s flat looking for his brother Steve. Stix is faced with the challenge of accounting for Steve and has no choice but to takehim in and prepare him for survival in the rough streets of Johannesburg.
Landey is drawn to his character’s innocence. He shaved his hair to reduce the years on his face for what he describes as a ‘gullible Hendry’
“I’m playing someone much younger than me, it’s nice to be a little un-streetwise”
The cast was assembled by Matjamela Moltoung of Ruban Noir Productions
“I was in Grahamstown doing a play three years ago and that’s where I met the producer. He saw the potential for a play. And here we are” –Motlatsi Mafatshe
Mafatshe is sporting a yellow beanie, and an easy going spirit weighed down by his winter coat. He drags a crate and i follow suite. We are sitting center stage, in the middle of every aspiring actors dream. To have a producer rope you into a script, a plot or stage, while you are busy minding your own life story.
Playing lead in any adaptation of Paul Slabolepszy’s work could be a daunting experience, but not for Motlatsi. He doesn’t want to place himself under the pressure of living up to Pauls’s shoes “I don’t want to feel trapped by the original play because I also have my own perspective”
In order for Theater Productions like Mooi Street to keep moving, our country needs to invest in the industry. So I ask Motlatsi if South Africa is investing enough in its Actors and his prompt NO! Grabs my attention.
Because the structures that will take care of the actors are not there. They are trying to implement them like the white collar copy write’s act. The National Actors Council of South Africa. I work on a T.V show and if a line in the script isn’t working and I make changes to it. There is no document that protects my intellectual property Once we have passionate people within the structures of governance then we can move forward
Having done a few feature films, Landey gives us insight on the investment
S.A has made to attract international productions.
The DTI is making huge tax write offs for foreign companies to come shoot in S.A. They are definitely promoting our film Industry. Globally we are now considered one of the prime film destinations but not enough is done by unions to secure the best roles for local work. We often lose out the best roles to international stars and we end up playing the extras in the background. Locally, there’s a huge number of television productions on the big screen. The future is very bright for the South African Entertainment Industry
About The Mooi Street Duo:
- Was the first black student to graduate Cum Laude at AFDA
- His studies were financed by his father’s friend
- He is a trainee director at Isidingo
- He loves music more than Film, TV and Theater
- Attributes his success to his mother; The person who financed his schooling
Joe Mafela, Isidingo, Carlo Matabane
- He Founded the band ‘MO and The Dark Nights
The inspiration behind the title:
“Knights protect the castle and for the longest time I thought good music was dead. Radio plays nonsensical music, international artists stole the drum and the Blues from Africa I put together Mo And The Dark Knights to reclaim the music that we lost”
- Classically trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts
- He received a Naledi Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor for ‘Travels with my Aunt’
- His Athletic skills include Water Skiing, Soccer, Cycling, Swimming
Theo believes that Being a good actor involves staying healthy, going to the gym, being mentally prepared and having a good relationship with your agent.
“The ability to act is intuit; you empathize and relay this to your audience. This is ‘Primary Talent’ The business aspect is ‘Secondary talent’ I use the Secondary talent to get work and when I have the work I use the primary to deliver it.”
Mooi Street Move is brought to you by Ruban Noir Pty Ltd in association with The South African State Theatre by arrangement with DALRO Pty (Ltd)
Directed by MoMo Matsunyane.
Dramaturgy by Warona Seane.
Catch the Mooi Street Duo at the State Theater
The play runs till 25 August 2016
PRICES: R40.00 on Tuesdays, Wed – Thurs R80.00 and Friday and Saturday R100,00