FOR years Dingalings Productions have proven themselves versatile, producing some of the finest nostalgic comedy and children’s theatre in Durban.
With their production Quarter Beans Bru! we got a small taste of their more serious and provocative side with the play keeping the nostalgic elements, but at the same time paying homage to history and in particular the history and footprint of the Indian community in South Africa.
Now, setting out to stretch their creative boundaries even further is the company’s newest work, For Better or Worse, a provocative drama intended to tackle issues of the traditional versus modern for the Indian woman of today.
Written and directed by Dingalings comedian and actor, Koobeshen Naidoo, the play features Dingalings stalwart Kumseela Naidoo, the talented Verushka Odayen and promising newcomer, Madhu Maharaj.
Tonight caught up with Koobeshen to find out more about his latest venture.
He said the story revolved around the lives of three generations of Indian women whose lives were intertwined by their marriage to three brothers.
“For Better or Worse is a little more serious than our normal Dingalings show, but it’s not a dark piece. It’s a dramatic comedy dealing with three Indian women who are married to three brothers who have gone fishing, and the women are thrust together at home. It basically goes through all the issues that have affected Indian women in South Africa.
“It sounds heavier than it really is. It’s just that these three women, who don’t really like each other, find things to argue about and discuss and eventually come to some sort of realisation. There are some fun moments, some serious moments…” he explained.
Koobeshen said the company is trying to broaden its horizons and not just stick to comedy: “We’ve done Quarter Beans Bru!, we are doing For Better or Worse now. We are all drama people and we want to offer something different now. We have a very nice niche audience who come to all our Dingalings shows and one of the good things of staging this drama is that they will also be exposed to slightly more serious theatre and hopefully they start developing into theatregoing audiences, and not just comedy audiences.”
Asked why he’s chosen to focus on women for his first dramatic piece, Koobeshen said it was for a number of reasons, including to show a different side of Dingalings Productions’ views on women.
“If you’ve seen lots of our shows and plays, we come across as very sexist and almost anti-woman in our comedy. But the interesting thing is that when you do comedy, you notice things differently. You observe a lot more deeply and in observing (for the purpose of) writing my comedies, I realised we want to show a different side to Dingalings where we also observe women’s rights.
“We support the move to ensure that we are all seen as equal. In that sense I thought it was a nice way to give a different point of view from us and also to give the ladies in our company nice acting roles. Also with Mother’s Day and Women’s Day coming up, it’s all incorporated,” he said.
Koobeshen said the play is intended to pass off a number of strong messages, particularly to the youth, through use of mixed mediums.
“The play will address issues of the generation gap. Our youngsters don’t really appreciate what we’ve come through as a community. Today we are much wealthier and better off as a group and we just feel that the youngsters are not getting involved in the community and in charity. We want to also celebrate the fact that our women have done so much for the community. Giving of themselves without worrying about themselves.
“We will incorporate elements of nostalgia using slides of women who have achieved something in the country and reflecting on the strength of our culture and how it can bind us together. Also, popular South Indian classical dancer and choreographer Sivani Chinappan will perform cultural dance sets which are woven into the story line,” added Koobeshen.
Aspects of poetry also come into play through the Kamla Das poem The Old Playhouse which also partly inspired Koobeshen’s writing in For Better or Worse.
“It’s a very theatrical piece and we are hoping people will come and see it and enjoy the different theatrical aspects, enjoy the story, enjoy the characters and go away feeling that there’s something more that Dingalings has to offer.”
• For Better or Worse, Catalina Theatre from Friday to May 18. Times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 6pm on Sundays. Tickets from Computicket at R100 or call 031 837 5999. E-mail [email protected]