Ameera Patel in Tamasha on Hope Street. Picture: Suzy Bernstein
Theatre by South Africans about South Africans has been both prolific and profound this year, with a significant number of productions addressing topical issues, cultural reflections and historical reminiscence.

Dear Mr Government, Please May I Have a Meeting with You Even Though I’m Six Years’ Old? explored displacement and victimisation within communities; Marikana - The Musical reflected on violence and its dire consequences; If We Dig stressed the importance of remembering our political history and Die reuk van appels and Vir.Ander explored contentious facets of Afrikaans traditional thinking.

Adding to this list is Tamasha on Hope Street which opens today at the Market Theatre. Tamasha on Hope Street is a new cutting-edge production by award winning playwright Rajesh Gopie.

Gopie is no newcomer to the Market Theatre’s stage.

In 1999, his play Out of Bounds had a successful extended season before it went on an acclaimed national and international tour. His play Coolie Odessey, which revolved around the struggle and aspirations of indentured labourers, was commissioned by the National Art Festival.

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In Gopie’s plays there is a fine line between the personal and the political and his work is often laced with sharp humour. Gopie does not shy away from harsh realities.

Tamasha on Hope Street provides an unapologetic glimpse into the hardships faced by people living in abject poverty. It speaks of xenophobia, the abuse of women, drugs, poverty, prostitution and hope.

Tamasha on Hope Street is an untainted view into the world of a set of marginalised characters living in Chatsworth under harrowing circumstances.

The play tells a story of a young Indian girl, an old man, a Zimbabwean musician and some notorious township types banded together against the backdrop of social depravity, poverty, and drug abuse.

The production is directed by Gopala Davies, who is best known for his ground-breaking production of Les Cenci, which premiered last year on the main stage of the National Arts Festival.

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Davies will be assisted by theatre producer and director, Gita Pather for his Market Theatre directorial debut.

Davies was named one of the Top Five Theatre Makers of 2017 by the South African Theatre Magazine.

He has received two Standard Bank Ovation Awards for Barbe Bleue: A story about madness (2015) and Nijinsky’s War (2017).

He has also received a Naledi nomination for Best Production: Cutting Edge (2017) and two SATMag Awards (2016) for his intermedial production Les Cenci: A story about Artaud.

“I have established myself as a director that is not afraid to push the boundaries within theatre, and I have previously explored the integration of recorded media in the theatrical event.

“For Tamasha on Hope Street the content is what is profound. Gopie’s script is contemporary, devastating and yet hopeful,” Davies explains.

The production boasts a stellar cast, including Ameera Patel, the winner of the 2016 Best Supporting Actress Award at the Naledi Theatre Awards. It also stars Dhaveshan Govender, Lindani Nkosi, Matthew MacFarlane, Afzal Khan and Keith Gengadoo.

The development and presentation of Tamasha on Hope Street is is funded by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Incubation Programme, which aims to boost opportunities for fresh young talent in the South African theatre industry and to bring more local content to the country’s stages.

* Tamasha on Hope Street production runs until 1 October. Book at webtickets or on www.markettheatre.co.za.

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