CONTAGIOUS Theatre, a new theatre-making collaboration between director Jenine Collocott, performers Taryn Bennett and James Cairns, and producers Helen and Simon Cooper presents James Cairns in three solo works at the National Arts Festival this year.
El Blanco, at the Kingswood Theatre at 4pm daily, was a Golden Ovation Award Winner in 2015; The Devil and Billy Markham, shows at Princess Alice – The Edge at 11.30am daily; and James Cairns Against Humanity is at Vickys at various times – see the Festival programme.
Based in Cape Town, the Coopers are familiar to residents of Bushman’s River as they stay in the village for four or five months of the year.
Written by Gwydion Beynon and performed by James Cairns, El Blanco, is a solo western, “…funny, filled with fantastical stories, a little singing, a little strumming, some poignancy thrown in for good measure, and, mainly, thoroughly entertaining.”
El Blanco wants so much to be a great mariachi, but he ends up somewhere else. It is a story of lost potential regained.
Steve Kromberg of Cue said it was “one of the highlights of the festival”, while Keith Millar of Artsmart described it as a “virtuoso, spell-binding master class in storytelling.”
Directed by Jenine Collocott and performed by James Cairns, Shel Silverstein’s The Devil and Billy Markham tells the improbable story of down-on-his-luck singer/songwriter Billy Markham. Told in classic Silverstein iambic pentameter and set on Nashville’s famed Music Row, the six chapter tome details Markham’s odyssey from the legendary Linebaugh’s sandwich shop, to Hell, to Heaven and then back again.
In James Cairns Against Humanity, the eponymous Cairns faces off against the hit card game Cards Against Humanity in an improvised, made-up-on-the-spot, full length solo show.