53 Degrees

With the creative collaboration of:

Jane Rademeyer (Sound design and Musical Composition)
Fritha Langerman and Carine Zaayman (Projections and Installations)

Directed by Mark Fleishman
Performed by Jennie Reznek, Gosekwang Poonyane and David Johnson (Grahamstown) Gary Naidoo (Cape Town)

A Three phase event: an installation, a performance and an exhibition.

53 Degrees (the performance) is a development of Jennie Reznek’s own personal style of performance. The piece weaves three different narratives together that are connected by the same theme of bondage and freedom, entrapment and liberation. There is a woman who is trying to make a piece of theatre after 7 years absence from the stage, bound to the duties of mothering 2 small children; there is Florrie Berndt who is trapped in an icy cold current as she tries to swim from Robben Island to the mainland in the first ever organized Robben Island swim; and there is Makana/Nxele/Links – a 19th century Xhosa prophet who tried to free his people from the tyranny of British rule. He was imprisoned on the island from where he attempted to escape but drowned off Blouberg beach, eternally trapped in an icy grave. The piece celebrates and foregrounds both the little and big achievements of these 2 women while at the same time placing their struggles in the context of the broader liberation struggle in South Africa.

“A plunge into pathos and humour… an eminently entertaining, multimedia gambol through (Reznek’s) particular artistic landscape”.
Andrew Gilder, Cue

“… verfrissende teater wat speel met lig, klank, musiek, ruimtes, vlakke en illusies. ‘n Mens sukkel om woorde te vind vir die belewenis.”
Kobus Burger, Beeld

“This is a gem of physical theatre, being as well a tribute to life, to women and to those who experienced Robben Island throughout the centuries… Imaginative use of props and body movement… . Focused and assured performances. Reznek and Fleishman show how history and its significance can be revealed to us, how history is all around us, that the past lives with us. Do see.”
Wilhelm Snyman, Cape Times

“Energieke Reznek swaai towerstaf knap. Wanneer Jennie Reznek en Kie. betrokke is, kan jy sommer vooraf weet: Skuif jou reg vir ‘n teater-ervaring wat jou opnuut sal laat besin oor wat teater is. Ook jou opvatting van wie en wat jy is, sal uit gedaag word… . Die hele ruimte word in al vier dimensies volgespeel. Elke rekwiesiet het ‘n doel. Die twee hoogpunte – ‘n klein stuk skaduteater en ‘n monumentale stuk “roeiwerk” op die tafel – is die kersies op hierdie ryk koek.”
Nikodemis Van Rensburg. Die Burger

(Magnet Theatre) Power Station, National Festival of the Arts Grahamstown; The Intimate, UCT Hiddingh Hall Campus.