Anchored on stories of dissolving, shifting and stillness: far out to sea, where land-based networks begin to crackle and skip on the boundaries of their limited existence, our lonesome sailor sits, moderate at first, then rising slowly. The gust, unsettled and at times cyclonic, blows knots into his porous skin as he rebuilds his identities in a north-easterly direction. He is good, occasionally poor, becoming lighter in the evening. 

The Lonely Sailor Weather Report is a warm and lonesome broadcast series that explores the journey towards amphibious living at the very edge of terra. It draws together several short broadcasts that become different focal areas as in a shipping weather report. However, the unusualness of these broadcasts see the sailor, who is losing signal to the weather station (and its associated terra comforts), reporting back from sea. At a slippery intersection, the loss of radio signal meets the rise of an ever present static as the sailor slowly becomes jumbled by and infiltrated into a via the watery surrounds.

The Lonely Sailors Crew formed out of an experiment in theatre making that took place in the middle of the first nationwide lockdown in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, over an intensive two week period, this group produced works from their separate homes that reflected much of the psychological and speculative landscape of the COVID moment. The work sees puppetry, animation, acting, scenography, writing and music composition encountering one another on screen in what they call a ‘wet space’.

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WEATHER BULLETIN FOR THE HIGH SEAS FOR METAREA VII.

ISSUES BY A LONELY SAILOR WEATHER BROADCAST

ON THE 29th OF JUNE 2020 AT 08:30 UTC.

FOR NORTH-EAST SECTOR OF MATEREA. VII, PREPARED BY THE EMPTINESS OF A HALLOW VESSEL, SEE AREA 2 BELOW.

NOTE: WX OBSERVATIONS

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COULD ALL VESSELS EXPERIENCING UNEXPECTED, SEVERE WX/SEA STATE PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO REPORT THIS TO THE SPACES BETWEEN THE SILENCE BELOW.

AREA FORECAST.

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CRAIG LEO is a South African theatre designer, puppeteer and performing artist. Leaving university to begin working in theatre, he trained in circus arts, performing with The Zip Zap Circus and then a lead role in the Sun City Circus Extravaganza, Baletsatsi. Collaborating with colleagues, he formed the acrobatic theatre company ‘Myth’, touring both Austria and Germany. As performer and designer, he has worked with top South African theatre makers as both designer and performer: Magnet Theatre, Jazzart Dance Theatre, Mothertongue Project, Janni Younge Productions and The Handspring Puppet Company.

Productions include Medea, Bolero, Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints, Cargo, Partly God, The Flower of Shembe, I Turned away and She was Gone, City of Paradise, The Firebird and Womb of Fire, Heart of Redness, The Visit and Antigone (Quiet/not quiet). His collaboration with The Handspring Puppet Company includes Tall Horse, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse for William Kentridge, Franco Dragone’s House of the Dancing Water, War Horse, Or I’ll Kiss You and Olifantland. Craig has continued his relationship with The National Theatre as Associate Director of Puppetry for War Horse. Most recently Craig designed and directed the puppetry for Elliot Harper’s The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe directed by Sally Cookson for The Leeds Playhouse and The Bridge Theatre in London. As performer his recent work Includes Gyre and Gimble’s Vivaldi’s Four Season Re-Imagined for The Shakespeare’s Globe, London.

MEGHAN JUDGE is an artist and researcher who works with intimate and material worlds. Currently, drawing from personal experience, Meghan is exploring the amphibious potentials of humans in the Indian Ocean in relation to loss of terra and encounters with weather systems. Her works compose filmic, sonic and social ‘tunes’ that are both collaborative and lonesome. Meghan has been awarded grants for multiple artistic exchanges as a participating artist and as a curator/organizer. These include ongoing activity in the Africa|Nosy Art Echange which finds connectivity (despite border constraints) and generates actions amongst artists in Southern/Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean. She is a PhD fellow in the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South project at WiSER, Wits University.

UKWANDA PUPPET & DESIGNS ART COLLECTIVE was formed in 2010, and since its inception has grown into a collective of young artists, with a core group consisting of Luyanda Nogodlwana, Sipho Ngxola and Siphokazi Mpofu. Together they are responsible for the running of the company, all aspects of design, making and performing. The company has received multiple awards for their productions and puppetry work. In 2020, Ukwanda has been working on a collaborative production with Augsburg Staatsteater in Germany, which has been postponed due to Covid-19 and will resume in 2021.

BAELETSI TSATSI is a storyteller, writer and facilitator. She studied at the Market Laboratory, the International School of Storytelling and the Center for Biographical Storytelling. She won the J.J Renaux Emerging Storyteller Grant Award in 2018. Her stories are distributed by FunDza, Cover2Cover and Book Dash.

She is currently a storyteller in residence at Play Africa’s African Storytelling Project, happening in collaboration with ASSITEJ SA. Her latest writing can be found in Anxious Joburg – The Inner Lives of a Global South City.

ROBERTO POMBO is a Johannesburg based theatre-maker, educator and performer. He holds an MA in Theatre and Performance from Wits University and attended the prestigious three year performance program at The Helikos International School of Theatre Creation in Italy. He recently returned to Helikos to complete his pedagogic training under the direction of world-renown theatre master, Giovanni Fusetti. He has multiple performing and directing credits, as well as producing credits through his theatre company, Robaby Productions, which was created in 2015.

ROB MURRAY is a highly decorated theatre maker and educator in South Africa, with a reputation for original innovative and visual productions. Among these are the iconic Pictures of You, Crazy in Love, Womb Tide, Benchmarks, and most recently, the SA premiere of Let the Right One In. He is Co-Artistic Director and founder of the open-door collective, A Conspiracy of Clowns, and was Artistic Director and co-founder of South Africa’s premier Deaf and hearing Visual Theatre company, From The Hip: Khulumakahle (FTH:K), 2005-2011. In 2010, he was one of 25 international candidates nominated for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative and was also mentored by theatre luminary Lara Foot. Over the years, he has facilitated official and informal training programmes at various institutions and has previously been Guest Artistic Director of the Cape Town Fringe Festival and Artistic Director of the Amsterdam Fringe Festival. He is currently lecturing at AFDA Johannesburg while completing his doctorate in mask theatre.

CREDITS:

Animator & Artist / Meghan Judge

Puppet Director / Craig Leo

Puppeteers / Ukwanda Puppets and Design Art Collective: Luyanda Nogodlwana, Sipho Ngxola and Siphokazi Mpofu

Theatre Makers / Baeletsi Tsatsi, Rob Murray and Roberto Pombo

PERFORMANCES & SCREENINGS / MANIPULATE Festival #14

The Lonely Sailor Weather Report is a part of our Digital Festival, through which you can experience boundary-pushing visually led performance and animation, broadcast direct to your home. Please note that you must have access to the internet and a laptop, tablet or similar device in order to attend this event.

Each event will receive a live ‘premiere’ as part of an evening line-up, and will be subsequently available to catch-up until midnight on Sunday 7 February. You can either purchase a DAY PASS which allows you premiere and catch-up access to all the works featured on that day, or a whole DIGITAL FESTIVAL PASS, which allows you premiere and catch-up access to all 7 days of programmed work (not including workshops). Visit our digital festival page to explore what’s on.

Image Courtesy of (c) Ukwanda Puppets & Design Collective