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AFRICAN MOTHER CHRISTMAS (article first published : 2007-12-9)

Durban’s theatre-going audience can look forward to a delightful festive season production in the Playhouse Loft between December 19 and 30. The Playhouse Company proudly presents Gcina Mhlophe’s African Mother Christmas, an enchanting story theatre production featuring the internationally acclaimed writer and storyteller herself as the show’s Narrator, along with a high profile cast of eleven.

Set against the scenic backdrop of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, this uplifting play takes the form of story theatre, with a narrator and a cast of actors, singers and dancers helping the story of Mother Christmas to come to life. The audience gets to share the experiences of the colourful characters who make up the cast, headed by Mother Christmas herself, petite and a great dancer who knows how to bring light and joy to any celebration.

“African Mother Christmas was born out of a need to have a story that is ours,” says Gcina. “It is based in our own way of the life, the starting point being the culture we come from. The production depicts the kind of celebrations we had in the not so distant past, one being the first tasting of the fruit, another being the planting of Nomkhubulwana’s garden up on the hills.

“And then there was the End of Harvest Celebration where we celebrated the richness and fertility of our land, a time to rejoice in the fruits of our hard labour and time of generosity and love for our fellow men and women. It feels good to give, many elders taught their young ones. And so we should listen and learn.”

Casting includes Zinhle Gumede as Mother Christmas, with Slindile Nodangala, Bheki Mkhwane, Phumelephi Mthombeni, Thami Sikhosana, Rory Booth, Bonginkosi Henry Kulu, Nombulelo Khumalo, Sandile Innocent Msimango, Sazi Nzama, Azande Mgwaba and Nomfundo Hlongwa.

A special feature of the show is the music soundtrack with luminaries such as Madala Kunene, Jerry Kunene and Barney Bophela helping to bring Gcina’s original compositions to life.

A life-size puppet of the elephant on which Mother Christmas rides to reach the children of the Valley of a Thousand Hills is another of the production highlights of the show.

Tickets R45 (R35 for under-12-year-olds). Booking is through Computicket on 083 915 8000 or The Playhouse Company’s box office on 031-3699540 during office hours.




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