September 03, 2012
Santa’s Story opens at the Fugard Theatre
Fazielah Williams has lived in and loved her Mother City since birth. Having lived all over the Peninsula during her childhood, she now calls the picturesque City Bowl home and likes nothing more than watching the sun set over Table Bay from the window of her apartment.
A lover of the arts and proud Cape Town fanatic, Fazielah began her writing career by spending many hours as a child conjuring fantastical stories that featured independent heroines from faraway lands who saved the Prince instead. This Capetonian princess has enjoyed stints as a magical arts PRO and TV publicist before finding her calling as a travel writer.
When not waxing lyrical about the Fairest Cape’s most loved attractions and activities and embarking on unexpected adventures, Fazielah can usually be found taking in a show at one of the City’s fabulous theatres.
There is no sweeter or more poignant way to pay tribute to your mother than portraying her on stage in a musical about her life.
In this fast-paced memoir, we are introduced to the life and often tragic times of the Jewish Santa, born and raised in war-torn Germany. In a journey spanning decades from Germany to Spain, France and Africa, we see Santa and her family lose their possessions, endure incarceration and suffer humiliation to escape the horrors of Hitler and his followers.
While Santa eventually finds refuge and happiness with a loving husband (Jack Pelham, father of Ava) in Africa; her family, except one brother, perishes during the Holocast. Watching such a personal account of one of history’s darkest periods is quite harrowing.
Aviva, well-known for her award-winning performances in “La Traviata”, “La Boheme”, “My Fair Lady" and “Turn of the Screw”, does well in this adaptation of Gabi Sulcas's (Santa’s granddaughter) novel, under the direction of the esteemed Janice Honeyman and is supported by a brilliant live band who perform songs that hold special significance in Santa’s life, including La Vie en Rose.
Lighting by theatrical legend Mannie Manim and design by Dicky Longhurst and authentic props add to the realism of the story.
My “Aha” moment, to paraphrase Oprah Winfrey, came when the still alluring 94-year-old subject of the play, Santa Pelham joined her daughter on stage for a closing musical number. There probably wasn’t a dry eye in the audience as we saw mother and daughter in song.
When she later ascended the steep staircase of Fugard Annexe, virtually unaided, I was left feeling inspired that a woman of her grand age, who has overcome such adversity, still has the grace and pride to carry out a task we young folk take for granted. We live in hope that her story will make a difference to the next generation.
Santa’s Story runs at The Fugard Theatre until September 9, 2012. Tickets are between R120 and R150 and are available at Computicket on +27 (0)861 915 8000.