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THE COOLIE ODYSSEY (article first published : 2003-02-22)

The African Bank Market Theatre and Rasa Productions will present The Coolie Odyssey, a new South African play by Rajesh Gopie, directed by Tina Johnson. The title bears reference to the word "coolie" which was a misrepresentation of the North Indian word for "porter", an official term used by the British Government for indentured labourers.

Presented to critical acclaim at the National Arts Festival 2002 in Grahamstown and told in the style of magical realism, The Coolie Odyssey is a tale within a tale.within a tale. The event that sparks the play is the shooting of a monkey in the backyard of the Naidoo's household in present day Durban by the son who has just returned from studying overseas.

His parents nurse the monkey back from the throes of death only to discover the monkey typing on Mr Naidoo's old typewriter late one night. Strange and bewildering events unfold. Who is the monkey and what does he want?

In a mesmerising series of events, three generations of South African history unfold from the monkey's frantic typing. Characters burst to life and the Hindu Gods, Ganesh (the elephant-headed God), Hanuman (the monkey God) and Yama (the God of death) weave through the physical world of the monkey's story.

The cast features Rajesh Gopie, Alistair Dube, Frantz Dobrovsky, Crystal Tryon, Krijay Govender, Afzal Khan, Adrian Arpel, Shiksa Rampathar, Steven Raymond, Sankari Nair, Keseva Nair, Lebo Mashabela and Steven Lawrence.

Set design is by Nadya Cohen, costume design by Andrew Verster with masks and additional costumes by Wilhelm Disbergen. Lighting Design is by William Wenner.

The production will run in the main theatre of the African Bank Market Theatre from Aqpril 1 to May 18 from Tuesday to Friday at 20h00, Saturdays at 18h00 and Sundays at 15h00. Book through Computicket or on 011 340-8000.




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