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WHEN RAIN CLOUDS GATHER (article first published : 2007-06-3)

The Playhouse Company is touring its new stage dramatisation for schools audiences of Bessie Head’s When Rain Clouds Gather, visiting various schools in KwaZulu-Natal. It is anticipated the tour will reach an audience of some 20,000 school learners via The Playhouse Transnet Mobile Stage, many of whom would not otherwise have the opportunity of seeing the production. The tour forms part of The Playhouse Company’s annual Schools and Education programme.

The stage adaptation of Bessie Head’s classic South African novel was commissioned by The Playhouse Company to help make the set work accessible to English second language speakers in Grade 12. The production has been designed especially to tour schools. It has been directed for The Playhouse Company by Thami Sikhosana with his Durban-based Action Space Theatre Company. Their expertise was responsible for dramatising and performing the isiZulu school set work Umthathe Uzala Umlotha, commissioned for last year’s Playhouse Schools programme.

The tour itinerary (May 28 to June 1 inclusive) embraces five districts throughout KwaZulu-Natal: Ilembe (Ndwedwe), Uthungulu District (Richards Bay), Nongoma in Zululand, Amajuba District (Newcastle) and Uthukela District (Ladysmith). The production features a talented cast including Thami Sikhosana himself, Mpume Nthombeni, Dumisani Ngubane, Sphamandla Mzobe and Adam Doré. It is hoped it will help to make the novel as readily accessible to school learners.

When Rain Clouds Gather depicts 1960’s Botswana, a country ridden with poverty while going through a process of independence from Britain. As a mirror view, it shows South Africa in the grip of apartheid, racist, violent and oppressive to the black population.

The story deals with the poverty-stricken village of Golema Mmidi, in the heart of rural Botswana, which offers a haven to the exiles gathered there. Makhaya, a political refugee from South Africa, becomes involved with an English agricultural expert and the villagers as they struggle to upgrade their traditional farming methods with modern techniques. The pressures of tradition, the opposition of the local chief and the harsh climate threaten to bring tragedy to the community but strangely, there remains a hope for the future …

The current tour forms part of the Playhouse Mobile Stage’s ongoing schedule of touring commitments. These include a wide variety of assignments with clients who use the stage to present community and industrial theatre presentations including many health and education related projects.




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