Zulu version of classic tragedy

A scene from the DUT Zulu production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, titled USiza and set in South Africa

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BY BILLY SUTER

A ZULU version of William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Julius Caesar, is to be presented at the Courtyard Theatre on the Berea campus of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) , nightly at 6pm from March 1 to 8.

The production by DUT Drama Studies students, titled USiza, is directed by Siza Ka Mnisi Mthembu, features choreography by Mdu Mtshali and has been translated into Zulu by Sabatha Ngcobo.

The cast of 50 second-year students is led by Nduduzo Ncwane in the title role, with Mark Antony (Antoniyasi) played by Vuyolwethu Biyela, who takes centre stage to avenge Siza’s death.

The conspirators are led by Cassius (Kheshisi), played by Mthobisi Mkhwanazi, and Brutus (Blutha), played by Sfundo Nzuza.

“This adaptation is set somewhere in South Africa, using the fractious political context of our country as a worthy backdrop to the drama,” says a DUT spokesman.

The story takes place in 44BC after Caesar has returned to Rome and faces a conspiracy among Roman republicans led by Cassius, who has persuaded Caesar’s friend, Brutus, to join them.

He is Caesar’s friend and a man of honour, buy Brutus joins in the conspiracy against Caesar’s life. He grapples with deciding the appropriate response to the political conflict and is supported in his moral dilemmas by his noble wife, Portia.

On the other hand, Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, has a premonition of doom – prophesying her husband’s death.

Caesar is slain at the Senate on March 15 (“the Ides of March”). Caesar’s friend. Mark Antony, in a perfectly placed piece of propaganda, gives a stirring funeral oration which turns the crowd against the conspirators, beginning with the often quoted lines: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…..”

Antony’s challenging of the conspirators ultimately results in a bloody civil war – the battle of Philippi – in which Brutus and Cassius are defeated by Caesar loyalists and kill themselves to avoid further dishonour.

USiza marks DUT’s seventh annual production in Zulu – last year it presented  the double-bill production, insumansumane and ukufa kukaShaka; and in 2017 staged Welcome Msomi’s iconic and critically acclaimed 1971 play, uMabatha, a localised version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Tickets for USiza cost R50 for adults and R20 for students with student cards.

To book call Busisiwe Mqadi at (031) 3732810 or buy tickets at the door on the night.


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