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DEPARTMENT’S SWANSONG? (article first published : 1999-11-21)

UDW’s Department of Drama may be closing at the end of the year, but it will go out on a high note when one of its most successful professional plays, Kriben Pillay’s Looking for Muruga, tours India in December. This national tour was made possible through an Indian theatre group, the Ethnic Arts Centre, in association with the National School of Drama in New Delhi.

The play ran for a year in the early 90’s, and caused some controversy when it was mistakenly assumed that a black African performer was depicting a Hindu deity. The socio-political comedy was heralded as breaking new theatrical ground, and when it was published as a playscript in 1995, it was nominated for the CAN literary prize. The current version is directed by Dennis Schauffer, with Satchu Annamalai back in his role as the waiter, Muruga. TV actor Vaneshran Arumugam (Suburban Bliss ) plays the other lead role.

“International recognition of the department’s work, which is not just limited to this one play, is a sad indictment on the recommended closure of the drama department,” says Robin Singh, head of the department of drama and the play’s original director. “While the tour was very gratifying for the members of staff, as almost everyone originally had some input into the production, it was nevertheless a poignant moment in terms of the future of the performing arts in the region of KZN.”




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