Inaugural 031 Theatre Festival offers something for everyone

(Back, left to right) Bryan Hiles, Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande and Cara Roberts. Front: Patrick Kenny, Aaron Mcilroy and Kaylee Mcilroy. Picture: Supplied

(Back, left to right) Bryan Hiles, Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande and Cara Roberts. Front: Patrick Kenny, Aaron Mcilroy and Kaylee Mcilroy. Picture: Supplied

Published May 30, 2023


Warm up this winter with top theatre productions on offer at the inaugural 031 Theatre Festival taking place at Bridge Theatre, Northlands Primary, from June 16 to 18.

As a preview of what’s to come at the upcoming National Arts Festival in Makhanda, which runs from June 22 to July 2, Durbanites Aaron and Lisa Mcilroy of MACBOB Productions and Michael Broderick of Theatresmiths have put together a weekend filled with family-friendly stage productions.

“The festival has been carefully curated to ensure that there is something for theatre lovers of every age,” said Mcilroy.

(Back, left to right) Bryan Hiles and Mpilo “Straw” Nzimande. Front: Kaylee Mcilroy, Aaron Mcilroy, Patrick Kenny and Cara Roberts. Picture: Supplied

She explained: “We’re taking some shows to the NAF and there are quite a few Durban-based producers doing productions, so we got together and said lets take a venue at the NAF and we could all do our shows in one venue.

“Then we thought, why don’t we do a little preview here so we can get them up and running before heading to Makhanda, and the rest is history.”

Promising that the festival will be loads of fun provided that Durbanites kick the cold weather and make their way to the venue, Mcilroy said that it will offer children’s theatre with “The Great Big Enormous Turnip” and “The Adventure of Who”, comedy with “A Vegan Killed My Marriage” and “Yesterday’s Hero” and, for the more mature crowd, there is the staging of “The Flame in The Snow”.

On adding two special productions for the little ones, she said: “Theatre is such a beautiful thing, but you need to be exposed to it from a young age to really get the love of theatre, especially with children’s theatre or pantomimes, once they are at a young age, then they are very happy to go and watch all sorts of shows when they’re older.”

Mcilroy, who is a stage veteran herself, will not be starring in any of the productions on offer at this festival. However, her daughter, Kaylee Mcilroy, will be doing her first one-woman show, which will be directed by Mcilroy’s husband, Aaron Mcilroy.

“I’m helping to put together the festival, but Kaylee has written and will be performing in ‘The Adventure of Who’ and then Aaron will be doing ‘A Vegan Killed My Marriage’ which is a show that was written by a Joburg-based director and writer, Craig Freimond. It will be the first time being performed in Durban.”

“It’s going to be really exciting and we are hoping people will come out and support us. Theatre has always been a difficult industry, more so now with the likes of Netflix and Showmax.

“It’s so easy to be entertained at home but we know that once people are out, they are going to love it and want to see more.

“Most of the theatre personalities that are involved in the festival are well known and on top of their craft.”

According to Mcilroy the team have high hopes to grow the festival next year should this one be a success.

“We’re hoping this takes off and that it is something we can do every year, maybe even grow the festival from just five shows to 10 shows, maybe even create a little crafts market. It would be wonderful.”

The festival’s drawcard productions include:

“The Great Big Enormous Turnip”: About a happy, hilarious, vigorous and wild 45-minute romp through the deep dark woods suitable for the whole family. Starring Bryan Hiles and Cara Roberts.

Shows will stage on June 16, 17 and 18 at 12 noon.

“The Adventure of Who”: About a magical quest through a mystical land. Written and performed by Kaylee Mcilroy, the show will stage on June 16 and 17 at 2pm.

"A Vegan Killed My Marriage“: Written and directed by multi-award-winning film director Craig Freimond, it stars comedian Aaron Mcilroy.

The show will stage on June 16 and 17 at 6pm.

“Yesterday’s Hero”: Stars Ovation Award winner Patrick Kenny as a hapless soap opera doctor who accidentally kills a local crime boss. It is a hilarious dive into the privileges and pitfalls of a minor celebrity.

Written by Kenny and directed by Aaron, the show will stage on June 16 and 17 at 8pm.

“The Flame in The Snow”: It looks at the hidden affair between two of South Africa’s most prolific writers’ letters written between André Brink and Ingrid Jonker.

Their passion, heartache and ultimate devastation unfolds in this gripping love affair.

The show is directed by Bryan Hiles and performed by Cara Roberts and Mpilo Nzimande and will be staged on June 18 at 2pm.

All shows are R100 (excluding booking fee) and are available through Webtickets. Refreshments and snacks will be on sale.