Picture: Luca Forgiarini

The acclaimed early play by Paul Slabolepszy, Saturday Night at the Palace, is set to stage in Durban in the coming weeks.

Slabolepszy is known for his collection of works created during the apartheid era that provided humorous insight into South Africa and her people at the time.

Directed and designed by Themi Venturas, this work is also a Grade 10 drama set work in KwaZulu-Natal schools.

“This is a fabulous play that I’ve always wanted to do in Durban again. Paul Slabolepszy and Bill Flynn did it in the 1980s in Durban. It involves a small cast of three and is set in a lovely bygone era in South Africa. It is funny to see what the guys got up to in those days,” he explained.

Venturas said the story was about two white South Africans who were on their way home from a party and one of their motorbikes broke down. “These guys arrive at a roadhouse at 2am in the morning. The one guy (Vince) is bit of a “breeker” and a racist and he starts harassing the black waiter who is trying to close up the roadhouse. The other guy, Forsie, is more of a simpleton…”

As the interaction between the three unfolds, the audience observes the relationship between the two friends and the relationship between the two working-class white men and the black waiter (September).

While Vince is more the aggres-sor and racist, Forsie is almost blinded to race.

“We have a strong cast with Clinton Small as Forsie and Michael Gritten as Vince. Veteran actor Bonginkhosi “Faca” Kulu plays September. All three actors are pretty well landed, with the youngest being Clinton. He’s had to go through a learning process and to learn what the characters of this age were like,” said Venturas.

Small said Forsie was the epitome of the simple working-class South African. “Forsie is too simple and kind-natured to get involved with racism, it kind of flies over his head. He’s got his lot and he doesn’t aspire for more. He seems content with life…

“I’m definitely more ambitious and more driven as an artist, but I definitely can identify with his approach to people and his un-shakeable humanity,” said Small.

Kulu said he was fortunate to have been exposed to Slabolepszy’s works at The Market Theatre in Joburg. He said this would mark the first time that he would be involved in one of the playwright’s works and that as September, he was able to relate to the character because of his father’s experience.

“He left his home in Newcastle to get work and he is trying to make a living being a “baas boy”… This is the same struggle my father went through back then.

“High school kids need to see this history and understand it. Most of them are told these stories but cannot relate. So if kids can understand where we come from as far as the Struggle is concerned, they can take responsibility for what we fought for instead of destroying it,” he said.

Kulu said he’d love to see theatre making a greater contribution in educating South African youth.

“I would love for our youth to see theatre as being beyond just words. It is so much more than that,” he added.

lSaturday Night at the Palace will stage at the Catalina Theatre from August 25 to September 11. The play will run on weekday mornings for schools and weekend nights for the public. Tickets at R75, R50 for pensioners, R45 for pupils. Bookings at 031 305 6889.