FLIRTING GAMES

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Closet flirts who need to brush up on their pick-up skills and perfect the art of flirting can compare notes when the internationally acclaimed Dalliances opens at Artscape Arena for a short season.

Dalliances wowed Cape Town audiences last year during its showcase performance at Artscape’s Spring Drama Season and evolved into a full-scale production that was invited to this year’s International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, proudly walking away with the Hilton Edwards Award for Matthew Wild’s direction and Angela Nemov’s design.

Set in the adrenaline-charged world of young Capetonians, this exciting new play explores the characters’ sexualities, gay and straight, the use of drugs and their dysfunctional relationships.

It is a world that “challenges contemporary youth and young adults with every restless temptation, where the lines that define morality and socially acceptable behaviour take on new dimensions, dimensions that some relish and others find unsettling.”

“Flirting lies at the heart of the play and is where the title comes from,” says writer Pieter Jacobs, who was also nominated for the Oscar Wilde Award for the Best New Writing for Theatre at the Dublin festival.

“The characters in Dalliances are looking for romance, sex and temporary highs to fill the emptiness they feel in their lives; they flirt to feel alive, to feel loved, to feel happy for a while – and with little consideration of the consequences,” says director Matthew Wild, who trusts that when it comes to flirtatious games, he’s a master.

“I hope so, otherwise I’ve been teaching the Dalliances actors all the wrong moves!,” jokes Wild, who believes that “a good flirt is a good listener who’s worked out how to use eye contact and body language to their advantage.”

For Jacobs, successful flirts share one unifying characteristic: “The sincere desire to make their victim feel good.”

“This does not imply that all flirts are necessarily nice people,” says Jacobs. “And whether what they say is true or not is a different story.”

“If you can get what you are after without trying too hard then you are a true master of the game,” says actor Stephen Jubber (seen in the gay musical In Briefs), who plays a control freak that doesn’t like to get his hands dirty.

“My experiences in the California and Las Vegas nightclub scene are invaluable in relating to Leo’s lifestyle,” says Jubber, who recently competed in the 2008 IDO Hip Hop World Championships. “He may sound like a miserable bastard but dealing in people’s vices makes you very popular.”

“To every action there are at least three unexpected and unforeseen consequences…”

Clayton Boyd (a finalist for the 2008 Brett Goldin Bursary), who describes his character as “reminiscent of a Ken doll”, a “gym focused wanna be pretty boy,” believes that all you need to be a good flirt is “a good attitude, a nice smile and an open energy.”

“No matter who we are, I think we can relate to the notion of wanting to be liked,” says Boyd, who returned to South Africa last year after studying in America for seven years.

“Confidence baby, confidence!” says Keenan Arrison, who plays a young, naive boy who becomes so obsessed with being in love with his boyfriend Ken that “it drives him to do unspeakable and unexpected things.”

Arrison, who can also be seen on Monday evenings in ETV’s Shooting Stars, finds that he relates to the “innocence” of his character in Dalliances and “his passion for love and being in love”.

“We have all been hurt in love before, so that gives me some experience to draw from.”

Playing a flirt on stage is one thing, but when it comes to real life, some of the sexy cast are hopeless flirts. Says Jubber, “I lose my cool around someone I fancy and say embarrassing things.”

Boyd is more confident. “I think as an actor a certain amount of flirting is necessary when talking to people about your show, or producers or directors you want to work with, so yeah, I am okay at it.”

The best ‘flirt’ in the cast seems to be Arrison. “The trick with flirting is in the eyes and the way you present yourself to the “target”. Ergo, I can see the impact when I look at “people” in a flirtatious way.”

Are there any flirting tips for readers?

“Avoid flirting while driving or operating heavy machinery,” says Wild. “And always check the number three times before flirting via SMS!”

“Understand the difference between getting someone to buy you a drink and making someone buy you a drink,” are wise words from Jubber.

“Smile, be open, pleasant and expect the unexpected,” says Boyd. “It is the law of unintended consequences. To every action there are at least three unexpected and unforeseen consequences, and at least one of those will be negative, so be prepared for anything.”

Dalliances also explores the dangerous side of flirtatious games and shows how unsafe acts can destroy lives.

“We often think of psychopaths as the disturbed criminals who capture headlines and crowd the nation’s prisons. But not all psychopaths are killers. They are more likely to be men and women you know and who move through life with supreme self-confidence, but without a conscience,” says Jacobs.

“I believe Dalliances promises for compelling theatre. But mainly I would like people who have seen the play to be moved in such a way that they treat the issues in their lives that the play deals with with more clarity and a sober approach,” he concludes.

Dalliances opens the 4th Artscape Spring Drama Season and is on at the Artscape Arena from October 2 – 18. Book at Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 – 421 7695. There are also discounted tickets for early shows on Tuesdays.

Patrons are advised that the play contains scenes of sex, nudity and violence. For block bookings and discounted ticket prices please email springseason@mweb.co.za.

Daniel Dercksen

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