University of Pretoria to stage an interactive children

The drama is targeted at children aged between four and 12 as well as their parents. The actors are 3rd Year Drama Students of the University of Pretoria.
The play is about a boy and his grandmother who are faced with adverse conditions when the boy is suddenly turned into a mouse by the Grande High Witch of the entire world. It's up to the boy to stop the witches from exterminating all the children in the world and save the human race from extinction.

“Will he succeed? Will the Witches achieve their goal? You'll have to pop in to see....,” asked Professor Marié-Heleen Coetzee – Head of the Drama Department at the University of Pretoria.

According to the director, Pieter Bosch Botha, “The Witches" is one of Roald Dahl's most exciting stories as it delves into the magical world of witches, and the witches he refers to are very hard to identify.

“A Dahl Witch could be the lady living next door, or even the baker's wife. Your horrible Auntie could even be an evil witch who's waiting for an opportunity to gobble you up! It's an adventure that takes place in many different locations and therefore it is fast-moving and very exciting to watch. It also deals with important life-lessons, like the importance of family and also that beauty is on the inside,” he added.

The Director of the play was recommended to the University of Pretoria by well-known actress Lizz Meiring. Botha completed his studies in Drama in 2003. He then moved on to perform in numerous productions including: Die Keiser, Jack and the Beanstalk, Dames en Here, Hooked on Books, and Cinderella.

Botha soon developed a passion for Directing and since 2007 he has directed numerous productions including: Pinocchio, Rapunzel, James and the Giant Peach, Madiba Magic, and Liewe Heksie.

His television adventures include a guest role in the SABC 2 sitcom "Askies!", and he is currently portraying the role of Lammetjie Koekemoer on "Villa Rosa" which will start airing in August 2009.

Botha said that "The Witches" is unique because very rarely in fairytales or children's stories do people get the opportunity to explore the 'inner circle' of witches to see how they operate and how they plot against children.

“These witches are modern witches and they're nothing like the Witches in the Grimm Tales. This play is endearing because it's the story of one Boy's bravery against all odds, and how his victory for all the Children of the world so gloriously unfolds. It is a classic story of good versus evil and demonstrates children's ability for agency and for making a difference in their world,” he said.

“The Witches” is a highly entertaining theatrical experience that makes use of magic and puppetry.

“This show will draw you in and before you know it you'll be a part of the action, and whether you make it or not will depend very much on your ability to spot a real witch...,” added Botha.

Prof Coetzee said that her department was very excited to work with a talented young director of Botha’s calibre.

UP Arts (a division of the University of Pretoria that is in charge of arts, museums and cultural related activities) will provide the technical production services for the show.

David Woods, the person who adapted the book for the stage was excited upon hearing that the University of Pretoria has put together a drama production for “The Witches”.

"I was delighted to hear that the drama students of the University of Pretoria were performing my adaptation of Roald Dahl's THE WITCHES, one of his most exciting and appealing stories, which benefits greatly from the use of a large cast! ... When I directed the original production, on tour throughout the UK and in London's West End, I really enjoyed bringing the story from page to stage, and witnessing large audiences of children - and adults! - reacting with delight and horror in equal measure! ... I am sure the audiences are in for a magical, spooky and ultimately uplifting experience!” he said.

The times of the play are as follows: on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the play takes place at 09h00 and also at 11h00; on Wednesdays and Fridays, the play takes place at 09h00, 11h00 and at 15h00; on Saturdays, the play takes place at 10h30 and also at 14h30.

Tickets cost R35-00 for adults, R30-00 for children and students, and R25-00 per head for block bookings of 20 and more.

For more information and bookings, please contact Yvonne on 012- 420-2558 or [email protected]

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