Latoya Newman

Athol Fugard’s classic play Boesman and Lena is all set to stage soon at the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg.

Prompt Side Productions presents the work with the Arts and Culture Trust of South Africa (ACT) through Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Producer, Stallone Santino, who is also no stranger to stage, having written, produced, directed and performed in plays such as Rituale Romanum, Dream Boy, How Soon is Now and The Crucible, said the play would be directed by Brenda-Lee Cele (The Bald Prima Dona, One Lonely Light), with actors Sade Wagner as Lena, Tshepang Koloko as Boesman and Musa Nkomo taking on the role of Outa.

The classic play, also a school-set work, explores the adverse effects of a decaying South Africa through a black couple – Boesman and Lena. After being evicted from their shanty, the couple’s challenge in setting up a makeshift home unearths a number of emotions and issues from their past. Verbal and physical fights follow until a stranger, an older black man arrives.

Santino said the show would be designed particularly for students and teachers studying the material, but that it would also be targeted to the general public who are fond of Fugard’s work.

Asked what his opinion was regarding the most valuable contribution that a piece like Boesman and Lena had to offer, Santino said: “Apartheid is such an intricate part of our culture and history as South Africans.

2014 being the 20-year anniversary of democracy and with the current elections taking place, what better way to celebrate it than to revisit the past in an attempt to rejoice in our achievements as a country, honouring how far we’ve developed.

“Politics play a large role in South African identity, a play like Boesman and Lena either opens a can of worms for some audiences, provides closure for others or simply acts as entertainment through which we can remember who we are as South Africans and where we have come from. For students more especially, they have access to the work in a form that goes beyond the classroom, allowing greater insight into the theme and issues presented within.”

Santino said that through his work in the arts, he has found that live performance serves as a fundamental tool in education. “Not only does live performance act as a stimulus during learning, but it also serves as a platform for critical thinking through the visual medium.

“Students are more susceptible to achieving a form of understanding when a text or particular study is complemented through means that go beyond the classroom. Live performance is a medium that is able to tackle so many issues surrounding the educational environment. It acts seamlessly when developed to fulfil necessary educational objectives.

“The play presents social themes that were prominent during the apartheid regime. The brutalities experienced by the play’s characters were the stronghold of the old system – it skilfully retells the injustices of the past. South Africans, through the play, have access to our history and newer generations have information on our growth as a country.

“Even though we have come a long way, many of the themes presented in the play are still evident in today’s society, making the play highly relevant in educating a people.”

Commenting on director Brenda-Lee Cele, Santino said he works closely with her at Prompt Side Productions. “I owe her the most gratitude for accepting the Boesman and Lena project as director. Brenda is an actress, director and choreographer.

“She has a creative flare when working with authentic South African material and it was with no doubt when choosing her to employ her skills towards this project. She is blessed with the ability to work closely with actors that surpasses the professional work environment, to which she is able to produce the best and highest quality of performance.”

Boesman and Lena runs from May 26 to 29 at 6.30pm at the Hexagon Studio Theatre, UKZN, in Pietermaritzburg. Tickets are R55 for students and teachers. For bookings, contact promptside [email protected], [email protected] or call 079 679 4837.