The Swell

Drama/Comedy • Running Time: 55 mins
Directed and designed by Gary Hartley | Written by Genna Gardini | Starring Zanne Solomon & Shaun Acker | Music by Umlilo
The Swell is the story of two unusual characters who meet under even stranger circumstances. Marie Walters identifies as a mermaid, and when she makes a medical aid claim for the loss of her tail it's up to the company’s Strange Claims officer, Howard Fawls, to track down the reclusive Marie and investigate. Did her tail ever exist at all? This encounter raises and interrogates  questions of how bodies, both tangible and fantastical, are treated in contemporary South Africa.

The Swell is the first collaboration between the independent theatre companies Fruitzalad Productions and Horses’ Heads Productions.


Shaun Acker is an actor and musician based in Cape Town. Apart from appearing in local South African theatre productions (The Unexpected Man, Get Kraken, Dogyard, Swoop, King Lear, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Kardiavale), he has also appeared in international television series (Black Sails, Women in Love) and commercials (Rolo, Chexmix, B&Q, McCoys, Robinsons Squash, Carling Black Label). Acker is a co-founder of the Balkan brass ensemble The Phax Trio, in which he composes and performs the saxophone and clarinet. He holds a Masters degree in Aerial Choreography through the department of Drama at Rhodes University, and has choreographed two short aerial dance works: Somnambul and in/apt: a contemporary hanging. Acker has recently returned from Dublin, Ireland where he performed Fleur Du Cap winner Nicholas Spagnoletti’s Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning work Civil Parting at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

Moulded by some of South Africa’s finest theatre practitioners, Zanne Solomon has enjoyed great contrast in her years as an actress. She has transcended the physical/emotional boundary with Andrew Buckland; delved into imagined worlds with Reza de Wet and relished the psycho-sexual complexities in Hieke Gehring’s Die Bannelinge in which she was cast as a melodramatic transgendered mother. She holds a Masters Degree in Contemporary Performance from Rhodes University Drama Department. Her most recent performance work was in Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man; which was directed, performed, and produced by Shaun Acker and herself as the debut work of their budding theatre company, Fruitzalad Productions. The show was performed to sold-out houses over the last year in Cape Town andat the National Arts Festival . She has recently directed Nicholas Spagnoletti's critically acclaimed play Civil Parting, which was featured in the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in May, and won a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the 2014 National Arts Festival. Solomon was also nominated in the category of Best New Director for the 2014 Fleur du Cap Awards, for her part in directing The Unexpected Man and for Civil Parting.

Director and Designer:
Gary Hartley is a theatre-maker, performer and television producer based in Cape Town. In 2007 he obtained a BA from Rhodes University with a Distinction in Drama. In 2012 he produced Wintersweet (in collaboration with The Runaway Bunni Collective), which won a Standard Bank Ovation Encore prize at the National Arts Festival. Hartley co-founded the independent theatre company Horses' Heads Productions with writer Genna Gardini, which won a 2013 Standard Bank AHA! Ovation Award for the play Scrape. As a choreographer, he conceptualised the multimedia interactive piece SIMilar for GIPCA's 2013 LAND Festival, which returned to the stage at the 2014 Baxter Dance Festival’s Main Programme. Hartley has worked as a producer and writer for TV shows such as The Showbiz Report, The Close Up and Screentime with Nicky Greenwall. He is currently working as the editor of

Genna Gardini is a writer and scholar based in Cape Town. She was featured as one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2013 and, later that year, won the DALRO New Coin Poetry prize. Her poetry and flash fiction have been published widely, most recently in the literary journals The Common, Prufrock and uHlanga, as well as the Umuzi anthology The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories. Gardini wrote the plays Wintersweet and Scrape, both of which won Standard Bank Ovation Awards. She is a member of The Royal Court Theatre’s South African New Writing Programme and the playwriting collective Play Riot. Gardini also writes extensively on art and literature for various publications, including the Cape Times, Sunday Independent and Art South Africa magazine. She is currently completing her MA in Playwriting at UCT.

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Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or by an adult with consent from a parent or guardian.
Seating is unreserved. All the seats are good seats but please arrive in good time to make sure you can sit together.
Also we unfortunately don’t have any wheelchair access to our theatre. There is 1 flight of steps.