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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

SUNGHURSH (article first published : 2001-09-4)

Presented by The Playhouse Company and Nateshwar Dance Company, Sunghursh - which means "revolution" - is a spectacular and vibrant dance drama featuring a cast of more than 40 dancers, which takes to the Playhouse Drama stage from September 6 to 16.

Directed by Nateshwar Dance Company artistic director Smeetha Maharaj, Sunghursh is the story of South Africa’s Indian community, their origin, growth, culture and history. It aims to strip away the veil of myths, misconceptions and mistruths of the Indian community, which have been obscured in South Africa’s past. Combining narration, dance, music, and backdrops featuring projections of historic slides, Sunghursh takes the audience on a journey from the distant shores of India, to Durban Bay.

"As South Africans belonging to the fifth generation of indentured Indians, our pride in our forebears lead us to reflect on the early Indian settlers - their labour, their political, educational and cultural struggle," said Maharaj.

The play starts in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu during the 1860's, and follows the arrival of the first indentured labourers in "Natal" on the SS Truro, and their subsequent shattered dreams, hardships and ultimate success.

Sunghursh documents the arrival in 1893 of London-trained barrister, Mohandas K Gandhi, who later became famous for his policy of passive resistance. Other key historical events highlighted in Sunghursh are the passing of the Group Areas Act in 1950; the launch of the ANC’s armed struggle in 1961 and the revival of the Natal Indian Congress in the 70’s. It also deals with; the formation of a Tri-Cameral parliament in 1984; the country’s first democratic elections in 1994; and the current spirit of reconstruction and development in South Africa.

Fresh from a highly successful tour to Poland, Nateshwar Dance Company is one of the biggest dance schools in South Africa. The company was recently invited by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to participate in the Festival of India, held in Poland between May and August. The festival was held to celebrate 11 years of exchange between Poland and India, and saw devotees from around the world converge to celebrate the essence of India’s spiritual culture.

Irek Karamon has designed sets for Sunghursh that evoke scenes of India, Durban Bay at the turn of the century and historic moments in the province, using slide projections and breathtaking sets. Some of the costumes used have been imported direct from India, and have never been seen on stage in KZN before.

Sunghursh opens on September 6. There are shows from Thursdays to Saturdays at 19h30, with matinees on Sundays at 15h00. Tickets R30. Booking is at TicketWeb outlets, credit cards on (031) 369-9444. A block booking discount of 10% is available for bookings of 20 or more tickets for evening performances and the Sunday matinees.

There will be a special schools performance on September 7 at 11h00 (tickets R12.50 per pupil). School and block bookings through Mala on (031) 369-9497.




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