Founded by William Kentridge the Centre aims to find the less good idea by creating and supporting experimental, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary arts projects. The Centre is a physical and immaterial space to pursue incidental discoveries made in the process of producing work. Often, you start with a good idea, It might seem crystal clear at first, but when you take it off the proverbial drawing board, cracks and fissures emerge in its surface, and they cannot be ignored. It is in following the secondary ideas, those less good ideas coined to address the first idea’s cracks, that the Centre nurtures, arguing that in the act of playing with an idea, you can recognize those things you didn’t know in advance but knew somewhere inside of you. The Centre is a space to follow impulses, connections, and revelations. It’s a physical space for artists to come together over two seasons every year and for curators to bring together combinations of text, performance, image, and dance. The Centre believes an ensemble sees the world differently from how one individual does. It is a safe space for failure, for projects to be tried and discarded because they do not work. It’s a space for short-form work that doesn’t have a natural home in a theatre or gallery.

Programme 2 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea’s online offering introduces audiences to the hybrid analogue and digital technologies of the Pepper’s Ghost, playing with illusion through live performance and projected recordings. A mystery creature from the mind of Franz Kafka, an avant-garde verse drama by a Soviet playwright, and experimental takes on the Shakespearean soliloquy all occupy the world of the Pepper’s Ghost.


Live performance, projected imagery, and responsive music come together to shape the Pepper’s Ghost performance of Odradek. Using Franz Kafka’s short story, The Cares of a Family Man, as a point of departure, Odradek plays with language, scale, physicality, and sound in a quest to puzzle out (or pay tribute to) the strange, lingering creature that dwells at the bottom of the stairs. Employing earnest and near-etymological narration alongside the erratic and reactive movements of the creature, as well as short, sharp musical punctuation allows for an engaging and genial meditation on the themes at play in Kafka’s story – a story that countless philosophers and literary theorists have attempted to make sense of over the years.

Adapted from | Franz Kafka’s The Cares of a Family Man
Performed by | Ameera Patel & Frances Slabolepszy
Music by | Clare Loveday & Bongile Lecoge-Zulu
Cinematography by | Duško Marović, SASC
Video Editing & Compositing by | Žana Marović


Live performance, narration, and projected puppetry and animation converge in an adapted version of Russian playwright Vladimir Mayakovsky’s self-titled verse drama. An experimental take on the original avant-garde tragedy, Mayakovsky: A Tragedy makes use of the illusory optics of the Pepper’s Ghost to pair the adapted text of Mayakovsky with the drawings and animations of William Kentridge. The result sees the very act of storytelling being picked apart and rendered through varying temporal and visual planes. Led by a poet protagonist, the play is as much a meditation on the performativity of prose as it is a display of language as a salve (or a form of satire) for the times we live in.

With text from | Vladimir Mayakovsky’s Mayakovsky: A Tragedy
Conceptualized & Directed by | William Kentridge
Performed by | Katlego Letsholonyana
Cinematography by | Duško Marović, SASC
Video Editing & Compositing by | Janus Fouché


Language, physicality, and the Shakespearean soliloquy are run through the illusory possibilities of the Pepper’s Ghost in Spactral. Drawing on the soliloquies of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the performance merges live dance and movement with projected stills as well as manipulated footage. The results see novel experimentations with time, perception, and multiplicity playing out in real-time. Through its use of the various visual and temporal planes of the Pepper’s Ghost, Spactral pays tribute to both the spoken word and the body in motion, teasing the limits and functionalities of both of these modes of communication.

With text from | William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Performed by | Thami Majela, Kaldi Makutike & Michael Mazibuko
Cinematography by | Duško Marović, SASC
Video Editing & Compositing by | Žana Marović

WATCH CONVERSATION with Phala O. Phala, a theatre-maker, director, and the animateur for the Centre for the Less Good Idea, and Bronwyn Lace, installation and performance artist and a co-director of the Centre for the Less Good Idea with Janine Lewis (Tshwane University of Technology).


This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Conceptualized and directed by William Kentridge, based on texts by Franz Kafka, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and William Shakespeare, Centre for the Less Good Idea (2020), South Africa.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.