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

BEAUTY AND THE B.E.E! (article first published : 2008-03-16)

In Beauty and the B.E.E, well known South African director Janice Honeyman teams up with comic star Ben Voss (Green Mamba, Black Mamba) to bring you Ben’s alter ego, Beauty Ramapelepele, a 49 year-old nouveau-riche Houghton mother of two!

In this one-(wo)man piece we join Beauty in her boudoir shortly after her triumph as South African Business woman of the year. Her proudly South African, BEE-registered fabric and fashion company Yebo Fabrics has just secured the largest fabric contract in South African history – the conception, manufacture and supply of all costumes for the opening ceremony of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

With tata-ma-chance struggle credentials (her drug-running father was killed in the crossfire of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 while delivering dagga to a group of teenagers), her sister married to the Head of the Reserve Bank and Zanele Mbeki as a personal friend, Beauty has the inside line on all gossip in the power corridors of South African business and politics! And to cap it all she is the trophy wife of self-made construction mogul Tobias Ramapelepele, a man who boasts the Gautrain stations among his current contracts.

Beauty Ramapalapele is the perfect South African weapon. A black, bright, beautiful, bitchy woman at the top of her business and social game.

But her life has not always been a New South African fairy tale. The daughter of a maid and a labourer, Beauty was conceived next to a primrose bush (which has long since made way for off-sreet parking) in the extensive Houghton garden of the Whitakers (her mother’s then employers). She was born on May 8, 1958, at the Baragwanath hospital. That was the 10th anniversary of the hospital and as a result no staff were on hand to attend to her. So Beauty Ramapelepele first saw daylight in the boot of a clapped-out 1957 Ambassador Station Wagon taxi in the parking lot of the world’s biggest hospital! Her blue collar mother, Mitze, and father, Nkenkelezi, were 19 years old.

With a nose for gossip and the inside line on everything from stripes to checks and BEE to the presidential race, Beauty Ramapelepele gives us a “fly on the wall” view of South Africa’s new black elite. Hers is a rags to riches story of our relatively tender democracy built on her simple and effective business philosophy. “Invest in Africa…buy a politician!”

Beauty and the B.E.E runs at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from March 31 to April 21 and at the Hillcrest Heritage Theatre from May 12 to 18. Ticket prices for the Durban season are R80 (R65 students, scholars and pensioners) and R60 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The show then moves to the Hexagon Theatre in Pietermaritzburg to run from May 20 to 24, followed by a Johannesburg run at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square in Sandton from May 27 to June 22. Grahamstown is up next from June 26 to July 5, and the year ends with a November and December season at the Baxter Theatre complex in Cape Town.

Join Beauty’s group on Facebook (Beauty Ramapelepele) or go to www.mambaproductions.com




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