The Playhouse Company, an Agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, makes history this year end by presenting SA theatre giants Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa in the roles they created four decades ago, when they appear onstage in their acclaimed political satire, Woza Albert! One of the great classics of South African protest theatre, the production, directed by Chris Hurst, is due to run in Durban through December 2018.
At the height of apartheid, actors Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa asked the question, what would happen if Christ returned to South Africa. They developed the stage play, Woza Albert! with renowned theatre-maker, Barney Simon. The production, a celebrated example of hard-hitting political satire, toured the world during the late 1970s and ‘80s, and played a major role in raising global support for the anti-apartheid struggle.
“One of the most important aspects of live theatre is the role it can play in sensitizing people to issues that need addressing, both past and present,” says Playhouse Company Chief Executive and Artistic Director Ms Linda Bukhosini. “In this regard, 2018 will go down as an epic year for us at The Playhouse, having staged two landmark South African productions after an absence of many years. Gibson Kente’s ground-breaking How Long? played on our mainstage in May. And now we are proud to end the year by presenting a powerful new staging of the renowned classic, Woza Albert! - brought back to life by its two original creators.”
Woza Albert! explores how Christ’s second coming would affect the lives of poor Black people, and how the white apartheid authorities would react. The two actors present a compelling view of a multitude of black and white characters as they explore themes of race and class, and expose the power structures of white supremacy. The play concludes with a call for Christ (Morena) to raise the dead heroes and leaders who opposed apartheid.
Although apartheid officially ended in 1994 with South Africa’s first democratic elections, and we have seen social changes and the emergence of a wealthy and diverse economic ruling class, for many South Africans, society still reflects great inequity in terms of race and class. Land issues remain unresolved. What would Christ say and do if he returned to South Africa today? What would the great leaders of the struggle against apartheid say? This production provides an opportunity for you to reflect on the past and contemplate the future.
The Woza Albert! previews in The Loft theatre on 6 and 7 December (tickets R80). The production opens on 8 December, and runs until 23 December. It then transfers to The Drama Theatre for a final run between 27 and 30 December. The play has an age restriction of 13 years, and a duration of 90 minutes.
Early booking is advised for this hot property production. Tickets from R100 to R150 are available through Computicket outlets at Shoprite Checkers, telephonically on 0861 915 8000 or online at www.computicket.com Alternatively, book through Playhouse Box Office 031-369 9540 / 369 9596 (office hours).
-Interviews & Photos available on request-