The beloved South African classic, Woza Albert, directed by Fleur du Cap winner Mdu Kweyama, is on at the Baxter until Saturday April 9.
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 the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), was first performed at the Little Theatre last year as part of UCT’s Barney Simon tribute.
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.
“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 includes 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 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.
School performances will be on Tuesday April 5, Wednesday April 6 and Thursday April 7, at 11am, with a matinee on Saturday April 9, at 2pm. There is an age restriction of 13 years.
Tickets cost R100. Book at Computicket. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon at 021 680 3962 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org