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Sarah Jessica Parker

As a South African living in NYC, it’s often hard to keep track of what’s happening back home. The time difference and going about the daily business of staying afloat in this city is a lot to deal with. Not to mention that local news reports just often don’t include news from further beyond the US of A in their bulletins. Plus, you know, it’s a big world out there so by the time they get to South Africa, it’s when the president is resigning or being charged with a crime.
I remember when I was in LA on an entertainment news assignment in 2008, and was asked by the desk editor to file a story about the US’ response to the xenophobic attacks in the country at the time. Where we usually reflect news from outside SA at the tail-end of our bulletins, US news reports tend to feature a talking dog or other such amusing tales. Barring NPR, and listening to, and reading reports from, the country itself, getting a sense of news from outside the US can be a tad frustrating.
It’s for this reason I think art plays an even more crucial part in our over-stuffed lives. An artist can tell a story – in hindsight, far or near – tell the story as it happened and as it was felt by the people involved. And if the artist or artists have done a good enough job, elicit the viewer to find out more about what went down.
So it was for me with Haroon Gunn-Salie’s Marikana sculpture. I knew a lot but there was so much I didn’t know, particularly about the emotions of the day. And so it is with The Fall, a production playing at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. It comes to the US after having played in Edinburgh and in London, earning awards and high praise. I had heard so much about it and so was glad to have the opportunity to see it. And to let it take me into the complexities around issues facing my alma mater, the University of Cape Town (UCT).
UCT  has been dealing with the subject of transformation and de-colonising and the takedown of statues and all matter of grey areas in between. The Fall, written by cast members who were students at UCT during the 2015 protests – #RhodesMustFall & #FeesMustFall – explores the events that took place around this time. With only 7 actors and 3 tables, the production is dynamic and arresting, and paints a clearer, if more complex, picture of what it means to fight for intersectional inclusivity.
Though the story may be a South African – complete with all the colourful slang that goes along with it – the issues are familiar to Americans too. Confederate statues, standing up for black lives in the ongoing struggle for equality and the issue of how to move forward when parts of the population have been deeply wronged are all commonalities The Fall speaks to.  Sex & the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker happened to be in the audience the night I saw it, and was full of compliments for the actors. Moreover, she told them something I believe to be true too. Many of the words used in the production around intersectionality and the ways that different forms of discrimination intersect are only just being commonly used here now. These are things South Africans have been acknowledging and talking about for a long time.
“I found it very interesting,” Tankiso Mambolo, one of the actors said to me. “In South Africa, we’ve looked down on ourselves and seen America as this beacon of freedom. But I’m coming here and I’m seeing that we have similar struggles, and our country is actually more further ahead in having these conversations than the free world is, which is very strange to me.”
Art – be it from South Africa or elsewhere, I think, holds real value in helping nudge these conversations along. The Fall, for sure, has already done so much to create more empathy and understanding, and I wish its actors further success.


“He died exactly as he lived – with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms…”

– Alex and Eliza Bolen, 

From the news of the Pistorius sentence to the death of De la Renta, the name Oscar is a heavy one to hear today.

The fallen Paralympic star was given his sentence today (5 years, which effectively boils down to 10 months with parole) for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. But just before this story began its end in court, the iconic designer died at his home in Connecticut, two hours outside of New York where his influence had become stitched into the fabric of the city.

De la Renta’s family, and the executives of his company, posted a statement on his website, describing his work ethic and love of life, which was evident right up until he showed his last collection at New York Fashion Week just a few days ago. Although he was born in the Dominican Republic, de la Renta became one of America’s biggest names over the past 5 decades – making women from the White House to Hollywood feel beautiful. Oh, how us mere mortals would swoon at the sight of his elegant and tulle-filled designs.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama (eventually), Penelope Cruz – all wore his creations. One of my favourite gowns remains the number SJP wore to the Met Ball earlier this year. She reportedly asked de la Renta, at the time, to sign his name to his dress, saying he would never do it of his own accord. As the pic from FashionDaily shows, it added a striking yet soft touch to the gown.


And which Sex and the City fan worth her weight in Manolos could forget the scene where Carrie reads Petrovsky the kind of poetry she loved, Oscar-inspired words, naturally.

For an in-depth look at De la Renta’s life and career, this Women’s Wear Daily obit is a comprehensive and inspiring piece, while the Washington Post, like many others, has compiled a list of his best gowns.

May his soul rest in peace.

[Pic: OscardelaRenta.com]


* After a bunch of rumours, it’s now been officially confirmed that Beyonce and partner-in-crime Jay Z will, in fact, be touring together. The title of the tour, On the Run, harks back to their 03′ Bonnie & Clyde track (which almost counts as their first single released together, except anything Bey released prior to Crazy in Love was as part of Destiny’s Child). Tickets go on sale on Tuesday.

* The Cannes Film Festival has announced its jury members – the film folk who’ll be deciding which movie screened in competition this year will be given the Palme d’Or main prize. The likes of Sophia Coppola, Nicolas Winding-Refn (Drive director), and Gael Garcia Bernal will make up the nine-member jury that will help this year’s president Jane Campion make the decision.

* Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct Roald Dahl’s classic, BFG, adding this project to his schedule of filming the cold war spy thriller he has coming up with Tom Hanks, writing the Goonies sequel, and helping USC open a new genocide study centre.

* She’s done much to sell Manolo Blahniks and raised the profile of Cosmopolitans so it’s only fitting then that Sarah Jessica Parker should receive an international advertising award. This will happen next month when the Sex and the City star will be given the first Honorary Image Award at the Clio Awards in New York, for her creative contribution to the world, over and above rocking a tutu dress like no-one else. 

* Spain is looking to right a wrong done almost four centuries ago, when its most celebrated author was buried poor and alone. Forensic scientists have begun to look for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes, convinced they still lie near a convent in Madrid’s Literary Quarter. The aim is to re-bury the Don Quixote author, who, like many artists, only became celebrated after his death. Better late than never, I guess?

[Pic: Sony]