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

PLAYHOUSE COMPANY SCHOOLS SEASON (article first published : 2008-08-12)

The Playhouse Company’s 2008 Schools programme rounds off with a short season in The Playhouse Opera from September 2 to 5, featuring a double bill of matric setworks especially adapted for the stage as an aid to Grade 12 learners in KwaZulu-Natal.

The productions, which have been seen on tour by schools audiences in 11 districts of KwaZulu-Natal since April 2008, are When Rain Clouds Gather, adapted from Bessie Head’s novel, a set work for learners of English as an additional language; and Ngicela Uxolo, adapted from Nkosinathi Ngwane’s novel in isiZulu as a home language setwork.

When Rain Clouds Gather is directed by Thami Sikhosana, with a cast that includes Thabani Mahlobo, Rory Booth, Bazini Msomi, Simpiwe Ngidi, Jeremia Ntshangase and Sikhosana himself. The novel is set in 1960s Botswana, a country stricken with poverty that is going through a process of independence from Britain. As a mirror view, we have South Africa in the grip of apartheid, racist, violent and oppressive to the black population.

The poverty-stricken village of Golema Mmidi, in the heart of rural Botswana 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, above all, the harsh climate threaten to bring tragedy to the community, but strangely, there remains a hope for the future…

Adapted and directed by Faca Kulu, Ngicela Uxolo raises issues surrounding community life in a rural village where, traditional African beliefs and outlooks such as bewitchment run parallel with those taught by the Church.

“In preparing this new stage adaptation of the novel, we have tried to put across the central themes of the novel, and have focused strongly on the main story line,” says director Faca Kulu. “We have also made use of sound effects in the production to help fast-track the action, and our supporting cast members bring details of the plot to life as well. Our general approach has been to encourage a spirit of exploration and discussion among learners in our audience, which we hope will lead to healthy debate among themselves, and with their teachers."

The cast of Ngicela Uxolo includes Slindile Nodangala, Bongani Mbatha, Bonginkosi Mkhize, Mandy Zondi, Joy Mbevvana, Sandile Menze and Bongiwe Hlophe.

The season in the Playhouse Opera between September 2 and 5 is being presented to cater for Durban Metro schools. To book call Mala Govender on 031 369 9456.




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