Variations on a Blue Bench
National Theatre, Windhoek
15 and 16 April 2014, 20:00.
The Bank Windhoek Arts Festival and the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) present a Lab-Theatre production, which reflects a meeting between a retired academic and a notorious bum. They are meeting by chance on one of the many colourful benches at the Swakopmund Mole, specifically a blue bench. The retired academic, who is a regular visitor to the blue bench at the Mole, Swakopmund, enjoys the scenery, bird-watching, observing all passers-by and showing caring attention to all canine visitors – some on leashes and some running free. He also interacts humorously with the heavy traffic of the ever present sparrows. His mind is mainly focussed on the sea view, framed by two of the many ancient palm trees growing on the promenade.
He constantly greets someone and after a while a tramp makes himself comfortable next to the professor on the blue bench. The tramp is a typical tramp, but with a kind of mysterious demeanour. He has the indespensable plastic bag, which he handles with care. When challenged by the critical academic, he takes from his filthy plastic bag a laptop and start googling Rodin’s statue, The Thinker. A street portrait painter draws the mossies and gulls and whatever his eyes catches, while his crippled and blind friend in a wheelchair, a professional beggar with a stunning castrato voice, watches and humms popular melodies. His colleague and substitute set of eyes plays the mandolin and accompany the situation as they arise. The ensuing debate covers themes as random as hopping sparrows, seagulls without calves, religion, evolution, The Selfish Gene, creativity and, obviously, BEGGING and comes to a simple conclusion: Just to be is an act of praise! “The artist’s ambition should be to lift objects out of time and make them capable of eternity…” quoted Aldo Behrens, Consultant of the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival (BWAF) and Scriptwright of Variations on a Blue Bench, from RM Rilke, a German Philosopher. Joseph Keamogetsi Molapong is the director of this special crafted play. Actors playing in the production are Aldo Behrens as the ‘Retired Academic’, David Ndjavera as the ‘Bum’, Heiner Kittel as the ‘Street Painter’, Morne Mouers as the ‘Blind Beggar’, and Christopher West as the ‘Mandolin Beggar’.