Daniel Mpilo Richards. Picture: Supplied
Daniel Mpilo Richards. Picture: Supplied

‘Land Acts’ a funny call to action

By Masego Panyane Time of article published Jul 17, 2018

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The one thing that remains a beautiful constant in Mzansi is the ability of some artists to correctly assess the mood of the people and play to it.

This is what the latest comedic partnership between Mike van Graan Productions, Rob van Vuuren and Daniel Mpilo Richards has given birth to in Land Acts, a witty, deliciously disrespectful piece of physical satirical comedy.

This marks the third collaboration between the creative team responsible for the award-winning satirical revues Pay Back the Curry (2016) and State Fracture (2017). The show comes from a successful run at the National Arts Festival. In June the production enjoyed a sell-out season and rave revues in Cape Town at the Kalk Bay theatre where it premiered.

Written by Mike van Graan (Green Man Flashing), directed by Rob van Vuuren and again featuring Daniel Mpilo Richards, Land Acts takes on the theme of land, the catalyst for much controversy and anxiety within the contemporary South African landscape.

It is a cheeky one-hour show, where everything and everyone is paid attention. The unholy trinity of the country’s top three political parties, the ANC, EFF and the DA, receive equal attention on the political football they play when it comes to the land question, while the Aboriginal people of Australia weigh in on who they believe are the rightful owners of the land, and what suggestion they have to resolve the issue.

My favourite piece, is about Will. I. Am Shakespeare coming to buy land in South Africa, something of a holiday home, and a beautifully-written piece incorporating all his works is brought in. In another skit, a wokist delivers a poem at the Thabo Mbeki African Renaissance Arts Festival (LOL), the content of which is sobering.

It also is very helpful that Richards is a talented performer. Everything from his vocals to his guitar playing is on point, although I wasn’t chuffed about his impersonation of black women - not that it was anti-woman or anything, just that it was a bit much.

But that does not take away from the overall performance being quite enjoyable. The Kumbaya moment, that Richards has through a song he performs at the end, is also very important. A part of the process of Land Return in this country is that we, the people, must get meaningfully involved so that it is not overtaken by power-mongering politicians - this is what the song alludes to - using this human right, this idea that returning the land to the people will restore some of the dignity that was violently ripped away from them, as their ticket to stardom.

We need to become activists for our collective good.

If anything,

Land Acts is a call

to action. A good laugh as well, but mainly this idea that if we have honest conversations with one another as the people of South Africa, we may just come out of this, alive and laughing on the other side.

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