The drama and comedy of history
A nostalgic offering is set to hit the stage this week when Dingalings Productions’s Quarter Beans Bru! premieres at the Catalina Theatre.
In a previous interview the show’s creator, Yugan Naidoo, explained that Quarter Beans Bru! drew on drama, documentary and comedy to produce an audience-interactive show. He said it was a unique genre that was part comedy, part tragedy, and part history and a captivating experience for the audience.
We caught up with Vivian Moodley and Bassy Bhola, who are the lead actors charged with delivering this fresh concept.
Moodley said the work was pure fiction, based on research about what was happening in Durban during apartheid.
“It is set in the Grey Street precinct, and in those days there were so many colourful characters and so many events that were of historical importance,” he said.
“Yugan has done excellent research on the historical facts that are addressed in the production.
“I’ve been a Durbanite from the 1950s, so I am familiar with a lot of what happened here and some of it I learnt from my elders,” he said.
Bhola said working on this production was challenging, as he had not worked in a dramedy before: “This play certainly offers something to people from all walks of life. It spans the different generations from the 1940s to now. It has been well-researched and therefore will be very informative; and it boasts enough comedy to be entertaining,” he said.
Moodley explained that through a workshopped process he, Naidoo and Bhola derived a plan of how to relay these interesting facts on stage.
“In the show the audience are our ‘customers’ in our shop. We created a number of characters out of this rich history, to bring it to life. The production is very nostalgic. A lot of people in the theatre will find themselves saying ‘yes! I remember that’ or ‘I know that person’.”
Bhola said the production was a process of reflection and one that left a “deep sense of belonging”.
For Moodley, addressing young people is also very important.
“You walk around the malls and you see all these youngsters, free to enjoy those kind of things and they have no idea how they got that freedom. It is important to remind people where they come from.
“There were places like the Grey Street precinct in other parts of South Africa, like Sophiatown and District 6, but this show gives us a sense of what it was like in Durban and of who the movers and shakers were right here,” said Moodley.
• Quarter Beans Bru! stages from May 1 to 17 at The Catalina Theatre. Tickets R100. Booking 031 302 6889. To book for a fund-raiser at a discounted rate call Kay on 083 793 9969.