South African tales to touch your soul

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TO phillip dikotla . Phillip M Dikotla

TWO PLAYS that stand out:

 

• If you haven’t witnessed the talent of Phillip M Dikotla (pictured) and his award-winning play Skierlik, the winner of Best Production at the Zabalaza Theatre Festival last year, a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the 2013 National Arts Festivals as well as the Arts and Culture Trust (ACT) 2012 Impact Award for theatre and the 2014 Fleur du Cap, Best Performance for Skierlik, this is your chance.

It was the effects on the community of Skierlik, that so touched this young man that he decided to craft a play. An informal settlement called Skierlik, near Ventersdorp in North West province, was established when a group of farmworkers were kicked off the farm of Meneer Piet.

The event that turned the world’s eyes on this forgotten settlement was the madness of the 17-year-old Johan Nel who went on a shooting spree killing four people including a 4-month old baby and wounding eight others. Nel was sentenced to four life sentences for these murders.

The devastating massacre had a tragic effect on survivors and families, many of whom had lost their breadwinners. Determined to try to recapture and restore what had been lost, by re-telling the tale of Skierlik on stage, Dikotla set out to write the play with a hope that communities would relate to this devastating story.

The story is told through the story of one man (Thomas) who has been living in Skierlik ever since it existed, fighting and hoping that one day “change” will come so that they can have decent lives like other communities, and their children can grow up in better living conditions.

Their hope and courage dimmed over the years and Thomas and many other people in this community quit the struggle while accepting that change would never come to their community. Until one day when their lives were turned into a nightmare.

Then change suddenly came to Skierlik.

It’s a truly South African story told by a new voice in a way that will touch your soul.

 

• South Venturing North explores how South Africa’s youth are contending with the ever-shifting demands placed on them by various spaces in contemporary society. It goes with them to the murky underworld of the ghetto squatter camp trench-towns, the bustling vibrancy of the big unforgiving city and the cloistered seclusion of affluent suburbs.

The play tracks two fictitious Joburg university societies; a fraternity called 66 Milner (The Black Ink) and a sorority called 22nd on 5th (The Red Pen). Students occupy an urban landscape that is unfamiliar to many and it is these spaces this work explores and probes.

In a multicultural society with the diversity our country represents, how do people from these different backgrounds consolidate their lives? It’s not easy to navigate and both the disenchantments and the elation are discussed. Moving from a township to town and then to the seclusion of the suburbs, what kind of compromises and assimilations have to be made to make it work?

Written and directed by J Bobs Tshabalala and presented at the Market Lab, this talks about a generation navigating a new world.

 

• Presented as a double bill, these two plays run from tomorrow (preview) until Saturday at 7.30 to 9.30pm at the Market Lab in Newtown.

 

 

CANCELLATION:

Joburg Theatre and Arts Alive regret the cancellation of the play From Jail to Yale which would have opened in The Fringe at Joburg Theatre tonight.

Charles S Dutton, whose one-man play it is, has had to undergo unexpected medical treatment in the US and his doctors have consequently forbidden air travel for him at this time.

Dutton was very much looking forward to his visit to South Africa and the producers have been advised that he will reschedule the performances as soon as his commitments allow.

Ticket holders will be given a full refund.


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