Love! Valour! Compassion! back on stage

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Klerksdorp Midweek, Johannesburg - Live theatre is back with Lefra’s production of the Tony Award winning play Love! Valour! Compassion! In early 2020, Lefra Productions proudly announced the 25th anniversary revival of the hit play Love! Valour! Compassion! by playwright Terrence McNally.

However, the COVID-19-pandemic hit in March 2020 and the revival was put on hold.  Sadly, McNally was one of the very first casualties of the pandemic and died of complications from Covid-19 on March 24, 2020, at a hospital in Florida.

What was to be an anniversary production in 2020, will now be a tribute production in 2021 and beyond.  Love! Valour! Compassion! was hailed by many critics as McNally at the top of his form.

Love! Valour! Compassion! will be directed by Gregg Pettigrew and produced by Frans Swart of Lefra Productions. 

Eight men confront their lives, loves and friendships over the three successive holiday weekends, at a farmhouse in Duchess County, New York. 

Winner of the 1995 Tony Award for Best Play, Love! Valour! Compassion! explores the lives, loves, and fears of eight gay men in the 1990s. 

Over the course of the summer, the men’s conversations touch on themes of infidelity, flirting, AIDS, skinny-dipping, and questions about life and death.  It’s a comedy about some comparatively privileged gay people in a world whose problems are ultimately shared by everyone.

“For me personally, I have always said that Love! Valour! Compassion! may use eight gay men as its vehicle for the story, but it is a play that’s message truly transcends sexual orientation boundaries,” says Gregg Pettigrew, director of the production. 

“It is a play that every human being will take a message from and relate to.  I am proud to be heading the production that will carry the blazing torch of hope for the South African entertainment industry to get back to work after going through our own doldrums for so many months.”

According to producer Frans Swart, the themes in Love! Valour! Compassion! are universal.

“Difference and unity, creatively entwined, create a vivid portrait, not of gay identity, but of human interaction. McNally breaks down stereotypes by presenting contrasting characters who depicts gay men as a group of very different individuals, whilst at the same time illustrating the strong bonds and community connections that develop as a result of outside subjugation. 

“These themes are now more relevant than ever,” says Swart.

“Gregg has done a marvellous job in directing the production, and under his direction the play sweeps effortlessly along as the characters fall in and out of love, argue, swim, dine, sleep, flirt and talk, which they do especially well!”

Mostly comic, the play manages to include elements of seriousness and even tragedy. It employs some unconventional theatrical techniques.  The stage is mostly bare, the scenery imagined, and each of the characters takes turns narrating the action, alternately speaking directly to the audience and to one another.  It is, as the 1997 film version of the play was billed, an outrageous mix of the The Big Chill and The Bird Cage.

This play tugs at the heart strings as well as provides the audience with ample opportunity for a good laugh as well as a healthy dose of titillation. By turns soul-searching and hilarious, the play sings with truth about all humans and their interpersonal relationships.

The central theme of this play is friendship and it transcends sexual orientation ensuring that every member of the audience will leave with clear message, that, “Friendship is everything!”

The play will be staged at the John Kani at The Market Theatre from November 19 to December 12.

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