Transformation pieces

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General meaning

A revue style of theatre where there is a constant and quick change of costume and character by the performers. Often found in farces and comedies, as well as one-person shows. Also referred to as quick change performances or later as multiple role performances.

Occurrence in South Africa

Notable South African examples of this style are the South African productions of Louis de Vriendt and his wife Mignon Sorel in the early 1900's, who, when they performed Die Niksnuts ("Worthless Man") for example, each enacted eight characters, utilizing a strong mimetic style of characterization based on the commedia del'arte. (Referred to as "transformasie aktes" by André Huguenet.)

The basic principle was later adapted simplified and very effectively employed for the "poor theatre" of the cultural struggle years, e.g. in the satirical work of such performers as Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa (e.g. in Woza Albert!), Pieter-Dirk Uys, Nicholas Ellenbogen and the stand-up comedy of people like Mark Banks.

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