The 2016 Fleur du Cap winner of the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for New Directors, Mdu Kweyana, brings the South African theatre classic Woza Albert to the Baxter’s Golden Arrow Studio from 29 March to 9 April. The production previews on 29 and 30 March and opens on 31 March at 7pm. Schools performances will be on 5, 6 and 7 April at 11am, with a matinee on Saturday 9 April at 2pm.
Woza Albert, which means ‘Rise Albert’, was written by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon in 1981. The play is still regarded as one of the most successful plays to come out of South Africa, winning more than 20 prestigious awards worldwide.
Mdu Kweyama’s version of Woza Albert, brought to stage by arrangement with DALRO (Pty) Limited, was first performed at the Little Theatre last year as part of the Barney Simon tribute by the University of Cape Town.
The two-hander stars Sizwesandile Mnisi and Oarabile Ditsele who play various roles through mime, singing, dance and physical theatre – from a vendor, barber, servant to a manual labourer and soldier.The play is a political satire that imagines the second coming of Christ in apartheid-era South Africa. It looks at a wide range of characters in South Africa at the beginning of the 1980s and attacks the pass laws that prevented black people from moving freely at the time. The production uses the metaphor of Morena (Jesus) to show what would happen if he came back to South Africa during apartheid. Would he like what he saw? And if he saw the atrocities of the time then why would he not do anything about them?
“Woza Albert depicts and critiques situations that were part of black people’s daily lives under apartheid: the pass laws, the segregation, the subjugation”, says Mdu Kweyama. “Many things have changed since the end of apartheid, but some of these experiences remain relevant and a reality to many South Africans still today. Our cities remain segregated spaces, to a large extent. Inequality is high and poverty continues to constrain the lives of many. And, as the last couple of months have shown us, racism and racial tensions remain very much alive in our society.
He continues, “With this play we are able to bring these burning issues to audiences in a satirical way. Although funny, it is true and there is no escaping the fact that these stories are true. I hope this will help open up further communication about the various issues that the country is dealing with at the moment.”
Most recently Kweyama received the Fleur du Cap award for new director for his body of work during 2015 which include A Most Honest Man (with dancers Grant van Ster and Shaun Oelf), Mike van Graan’s Return of the Ancestors and Reza de Wet’s Missing (Mis) which marked the culmination of his tenure as artist-in-residence at the Baxter Theatre Centre. He is a lecturer at City Varsity and part-time lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Drama Department.
Costume design for Woza Albert is by Lee Bishop and lighting design is by Luyanda Somkhence.
Woza Albert previews on 29 and 30 March and opens on Thursday 31 March at 7pm and runs until 9 April, with school performances on 5, 6 and 7 April at 11:00 with a matinee on Saturday 9 April at 2pm. There is an age restriction of 13 years.
Tickets are R90 for the previews and thereafter, R100 throughout the production’s run. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Carmen on021 680 3993, email email@example.com.