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THE COOLIE ODYSSEY (article first published : 2005-11-4)

Rasa productions in association with the Playhouse Company is to present The Coolie Odyssey, the acclaimed play that has its origins in Durban.

Written by Rajesh Gopie (who wrote the international stage hit Out of Bounds), this groundbreaking piece of South African theatre enjoyed a highly successful premiere season at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2002, and at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg the following year, where is was hailed as “perfectly timed and unique” (Sowetan Sunday World).

The Coolie Odyssey focuses on the indenture of workers from India for the sugar plantations in Natal between the years 1860 to 1911, a contentious and often neglected political issue in today's national dialogue.

This moving theatrical piece marries touches of compassion with flashes of humour to reveal important insights into the identity of South African Indians then and now, their significance and contributions, and the ongoing issues of race relations and nation building.

Its ingenious plot unfolds as the story-teller, a monkey with memories of previous human incarnations, battles to finish typing his story on an old typewriter. The gods Ganesh, Yama and Hanuman debate whether the monkey should be allowed to finish his story.

For its Durban season The Coolie Odyssey is supported by the 1860 Pioneers Foundation. Directed by multi award winning director Heinrich Reisenhofer, the cast includes, among others, Rajesh Gopie, Crystal Tryon, Alisdair Dube, Afzal Khan and the young Sunkree Nair.

The play previews in the Playhouse Drama on November 22, opening on November 26 for a season running through December. Tickets R65 (20% discounts for students and pensioners on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays). Book at Computicket or the Playhouse Dial-A-Seat on 031 369 9555.




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