This Thursday, January 17th, is the interpreted performance of "The Road to Mecca" at 7:30 p.m. at Profile Theatre. (See previous post for ticket and location information.)
In my preparation to interpret this play, one thing my team and I have done is to research the location in which the play takes place and the central character, Miss Helen. This is one of my favorite things about theatrical interpreting, the pieces of history I discover and the bits and pieces of information I get to add to my world knowledge base.
I have enjoyed the play each time I've seen it and the set and costumes really gave a strong sense of place and characters. And now that I have additional information about this amazing artist, I can say without a doubt that Profile Theatre has done a great job of representing the area, the woman, and her amazing "outsider art."
According to several online sources, "Miss Helen" was considered one of South Aftica's foremost Outsider Artists. Her former home is now a historic sight and is called The Owl House. On this linked About.com webpage, there is a great description of Miss Helen and the character in the play which comes through well in the tale and the acting:
..."In 1964 Helen Martins employed Koos Malgas, an itinerant sheepshearer, to help her make the cement-and -glass statues which fill the Camel Yard outside her house. Formally the garden, this sculpture yard had over 300 figures and animals. Malgas became her foremost friend and companion, and remained by her side for the last 12 years of her life. Helen's close relationship with her Coloured assistant was viewed with great suspicion by Nieu Bethesda's Apartheid era residents. ..."
I also wanted to share some photographs of "The Owl House" and her statues. They are amazing and to see the yard helps me visualize the play I'm interpreting - and I hope it helps you to envision what is implied and discussed throughout the play; is very key to the play and the woman.from "'Miss Helen', South Africa's Foremost Outsider Artist"
by Alistair Boddy-Evans, About.com Guide