Running Time: 40 mins
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Unfathomable is a 40 minute, art-as-research film adapted from the stage play by the same name. The stage play was devised by Athena Mazarakis and Alex Halligey, and first premiered live at the National Arts Festival Fringe in Makhanda in 2019, winning a Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award.

Using water as a central motif-metaphor for processing grief, the original theatre work traces the histories of Halligey’s father and grandmother through a poetic play between materials, body and words. Curious to see how this theatrical audio-visual richnesss might be realised in the audio-visual medium of film, an ensemble of artists have collaborated to experiment in this new iteration of Unfathomable with creating a cinematic work that is neither a filming of the stage performance nor a translation of the stage performance into film. Rather the use of filmic elements (camera, editing, music composition and sound design for camera) in dialogue with set, stage lights, materials, live sound and performer to express Unfathomable’s theatrical imagery.

The film will be available for public view as a limited release during the month of July, releasing on 13 July at The Bioscope (at 44 Stanley Avenue) 

SCREENINGS AT THE BIOSCOPE: 13, 19 & 20 July. Tickets are R 100, available at https://www.thebioscope.co.za/screenings-of-unfathomable/

BOOK BELOW for online pay per view at R 50, and we will send you the link  (valid from 14 July until 30 July 2020)


Created by Alex Halligey and Athena Mazarakis

Performed by Alex Halligey 
Directed by Athena Mazarakis
Designed by Jenni-lee Crewe
Lighting design by Benjamin Muir-Mills
Filmed and Edited by Nicola Pilkington 
Sound Design by Zain Vally
Original score by Daniel de Wet

Based on research supported by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences
Venue and technical support : UJ Arts & Culture 
Special thanks to : Barry Strydom, Jessica Denyscchen and 9mm films 
Original stage play created at the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative's Ebhudlweni Arts Centre. The film version of Unfathomable was filmed at the Con Cowan Theatre on University of Johannesburg’s Bunting Road Campus in Johannesburg.

Ensemble Biographies

 Alex Halligey is a performer, theatre-maker and researcher. She has a PhD in drama and urban studies through the University of Cape Town, a Masters degree in performance studies from New York University and currently holds an NIHSS postdoctoral fellowship with the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg. Her research is concerned with theatre and performance as research tools and conceptual lenses frequently, but not exclusively, in relation to cities. Her monograph Participatory Theatre and the Urban Everyday: Place and Play in Johannesburg was published by Routledge in 2020 and 2021 saw the publication by Modjaji Books of a scholarly volume she co-edited with Sara Matchett on women-lead theatre organisation, The Mothertongue Project: Collaborative Conversations: Celebrating Twenty-One Years of The Mothertongue Project. She has an ongoing practice as a theatre maker, performing, as well as directing and producing.  Most recently an ensemble work she performed in and co-produced, Diving (2020, directed by Clara Vaughan) was nominated for a 2022 Naledi Award.

Athena Mazarakis is a South African choreographer, performer, somatic arts educator, arts manager and embodied mindfulness practitioner. She currently holds the position of Momenteur of SO | The Academy for the Less Good idea, the newest arm of The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Athena brings the resourcefulness and creativity implicit in her creative practice as a choreographer and movement artist over the past 25 years to her work within arts administration, arts activism, project design, programme innovation and arts learning processes. Her creative practice is underpinned by the concept of the body as archive which has been the key focus of her artistic and scholarly research. It also informs her embodied approach to mindfulness practices, which she has consolidated in her embodied mindfulness work through her company, EMBODIMENT NOW. Athena’s creative practice has been recognized through a number of commissions, residencies and awards such as a Gauteng MEC award for Most Outstanding Female dancer (2005), a Kanna Award for Most Prestigious Achievement in Dance Theatre (KKNK 2007), and two Silver Standard Bank Ovation Awards (NAF 2010 & 2019).

Benjamin Mills started his lighting journey in 2006 at a lighting workshop at his high school. From that moment, the bug had bit and by 2007, he was running all technical aspects of almost every school event including matric dances, fashion shows, conferences, assemblies, school productions, music and dance competitions. After a brief ballet career, he returned to the technical theatre world in 2012. SInce then he has worked with companies such as Madame Zingara, MGG and The National Arts Festival and has designed for Joburg Ballet, Mzansi Ballet, AFDA Johannesburg, UJ Theatre, MGG, Prime Circle, CRC and many more. In 2015, his light show was also selected for the finals of Electrosonic's LD competition at Mediatech, and his light show in 2017 won it. He continues to work as a lighting designer and general geek branching out into video production, CG and app development.

Daniel de Wet is a musician and composer whose music has been performed internationally, most recently having an arrangement performed at Carnegie Hall as part of an international flute symposium. As a performer he has performed locally and internationally with a special interest in rhythmic and experimental music utilizing improvisation. He is currently collaborating in an original music trio for which all the members write and perform the music, soon to launch publicly. He is also known as a teacher of music and the Alexander Technique, soon to open his own studio and performance venue. 

Jenni-lee Crewe is currently lecturer in scenography at the Centre for Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town. She was at the University Currently Known as Rhodes for her undergraduate and honours studies and worked with the First Physical Theatre company, before obtaining her MFA in theatre design from Tulane University in New Orleans. Returning to South Africa, Jenni-lee lectured in theatre design in the School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg until 2017. She is a fellow of the Ampersand Foundation and a Naledi award winning theatre designer and artistic director of Flying House. 

Zain Vally is a multidisciplinary sound engineer, location recorder, and the Sound Engineer for The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Vally works extensively in the music industry and is an accredited recording engineer on Beyoncé’s album, The Lion King: The Gift. He also holds location recording credits for documentaries and television shows such as Stony Hill to Addis, Yo! MTV Raps Africa, and Gqom Nation. Having gravitated toward music from a young age, Vally pursued a diploma in Audio Technology and Post-Production from the Academy of Sound Engineering in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Following his studies, he worked for two years as a sound engineer for The Orbit Jazz Club and Bistro where he crossed paths with SoulFire’s Gavan Eckhart and was subsequently brought on as a recording assistant during an early workshop for William Kentridge’s The Head & the Load. Since then, Vally has worked with The Centre for the Less Good Idea on numerous Seasons and programmes, recording, mixing and sound designing as part of the SoulFire team, as well as independently.

Nicola Pilkington was born and bred in the boiling-pot Afropolitan of Johannesburg, and is a multidirectional artist, researcher and educator with a core interest in caring collaborations in process-led projects. Their current interest in particular is experimenting with ways to hybridise storytelling for stage and screen simultaneously, and are furthering this investigation as a Master’s candidate at UCT. Nicola has been invested in empowering young performance artists since 2017, lecturing and facilitating at Wits School of the Arts, the Market Theatre Laboratory, AFDA Joburg, and the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies in Cape Town.

Nicola has proudly contributed to projects including MTF's Babylon: Beyond Borders (2019); Koleka Putuma’s No Easter Sunday for Queers (2019); Priority Mail: Africa 2020 Process Lab (2021); and has been co-creator for award-winning projects including What Falling Feels Like. in collaboration with Joe Young; Tracks with Maude Sandham; Rebirth of IQHAWE and A Sea Inland: 360 with Oupa Sibeko; the Hybrid but Human projects with Hlabi Moetanalo, Shameelah Khan and Geoffrey Diver; and my many mouths with Noluthando Lobese, Lindiwe Matshikiza, and Vanessa Lorenzo.

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