October 24th marks the worldwide premier of Amandla! Mandela: A Musical Journey to Freedom at Amsterdam's Royal Carré Theater. ShowTex Netherlands created a unique stage element that features throughout the show. The original ShowTex curtain was designed by stage and television veteran Eric Goossens. Nothing less would do for this international production of lively South African music, song and dance. A cast and crew from both the Netherlands and South Africa bring to life the inspirational story of Nelson Mandela and his passionate struggle for his people and country.
A project this ambitious called for exceptional stage design. Goossens explains, “I wanted to use a pattern that had significance for South Africans, a design that immediately put you in the atmosphere of the culture without feeling like you stepped into a souvenir shop. The bold black pattern with transparent openings in between creates depth onstage but also becomes a perfect prop for helping to tell the story. The dark lines can function as prison bars, and a dividing line between Mandela and his freedom . As the curtain gradually changes position throughout the show, Mandela gets closer to his traditions, his people, and his freedom.”
He continues, “Originally, we planned to build the element out of wood, but ShowTex found a way to attach the black wool serge fabric to a fine stage gauze so that the curtain produces the same visual effect. Using textile instead of wood in this case certainly cut down on production time and cost. And it looks amazing. I have to say, I've come to expect that from ShowTex Netherlands. They always find a way to deliver exactly what I ask for.”
The task of cutting a design in one single piece of fabric for a curtain measuring 15 x 6 meters and holding its shape required ingenuity of the ShowTex team. The design for the main curtain and 2 legs measuring 7,70 x 6 meters each was accomplished by using the in-house laser cutting machine. The form was then cut out from a single roll of wool. The positive piece of the cut-out was used for the main curtain and the left over fabric was used on the side curtains creating an opposing pattern.
“It's projects like this that inspire our imagination.” Marjon Franken of ShowTex Netherlands beams. “ Now that we've used the laser cutter in this way we'll be able to push the boundaries of what can be done with textile even further in the future. Especially in this case where we used a simple masking fabric and stage netting to produce a spectacular effect.”
Amandla! Mandela from Bos Theater Productions is sure to be a huge hit this season with its beautifully crafted stage design and uplifting message that one man truly can change the world.