Theatre giants return to iconic roles

Mbongeni Ngema and Percy Mtwa in Woza Albert!. Picture by Val Adamson.

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BY BILLY SUTER

THE creator of the stage classics Sarafina and Asinamali, Mbongeni Ngema. and Percy Mtwa, the writer and director of Bopha!, will appear at Durban’s Playhouse over the festive season in roles they created four decades ago.

The Playhouse Company is presenting the two theatre giants in their acclaimed political satire, Woza Albert!, one of the great classics of South African protest theatre. Directed by Chris Hurst, it is to run in Durban throughout December.

At the height of apartheid, actor Ngema and Mtwa asked the question: what would happen if Christ returned to South Africa. They developed the stage play, probing that question, 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 1980s, 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 sensitising people to issues that need addressing, both past and present,” says Playhouse Company chief executive and artistic director, Linda Bukhosini, in a press release.

“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 groundbreaking How Long? played on our main stage in May. 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.”

The play explores how the second coming of Christ (Morena) 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.

Woza Albert! previews in The Playhouse Loft theatre on December 6 and 7 D (tickets R80). The production officially opens on December 8, and then runs until 23 December. It then transfers to The Playhouse Drama theatre for a final run between December 27 and 30.

The 90-minute play has an age restriction of 13 years.

Tickets, priced from R100 to R150, are available at Computicket outlets ot the Playhouse Box Office (031) 369 9540 or (031) 369 9596 during office hours.


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