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Mary Watson’s JungFrau: from page to stage

Published on 25 May 2018

Mary Watson’s short story JungFrau will be brought to life on stage in Germany and South Africa this year, adapted by Ameera Patel and directed by Jade Bowers.

Based on the Caine prize-winning short story from Mary Watson’s collection called Moss (published 2004), JUNGFRAU is a performance work about families and the secrets that they hide. Set in Redhill, Cape Town, before the forced removals, we take a look behind ‘closed doors’ and uncover one family’s secrets.

“It is a powerfully written narrative that works skilfully through a child’s imagination to suggest a world of insights about familial and social relationships in the new South Africa,” said the chair of judges Dr Nana Wilson-Tagoe, in announcing the award in 2006. “It is superbly written and does what a short story should do, by leaving spaces around its narrative into which readers can enter again and again.”

Born in Cape Town, a seasoned academic with a PhD and two Masters degrees to her name, Watson lives in Ireland, where she pursues writing of a creative nature. “I love how theatre draws together different creative talents and I’m excited to see my story reimagined on stage,” she says.

Commissioned and directed by Jade Bowers, a winner of the Naledi award for Best Director and 2016’s Standard Bank Young Artist, in association with Festival Theaterformen and the National Arts Festival, the adaptation of JUNGFRAU for stage is by talented writer and performer Ameera Patel. 

Patel is herself a published novelist (Outside the Lines, 2014), award-winning playwright (Whistle Stop, 2014) and graduate of UCT as well as of the University of the Witwatersrand Masters in Creative Writing programme.

Patel, who will also play the character of ‘Jessica’ in this stage version, is drawn to strong family narratives, and particularly stories of the South African context. “Through the relationship between the word and the body, a new language is formed. This new language works specifically well when delving into family relationships, where because of the familiarity there is so much that isn’t said, but is definitely understood,” she says.

JUNGFRAU will debut in Germany at the 2018 Braunschweig iteration of the international contemporary theatre showcase Festival Theaterformen before making its South African debut at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Watson’s latest literary accomplishment, The Wren Hunt, has been described by the Guardian as “a magical YA debut” in which two factions battle for survival in this complex and slippery tale of ancient spells cast in contemporary Ireland, and was released earlier this year.

  • This media release was supplied by Fiona Gordon of Creative Fix. If you would like us to feature news about your production, please email us on