A look at Alan Paton’s life and works in ‘A Voice I Cannot Silence’

DURBAN actors Ralph Lawson, Clare Mortimer and Menzi Mkhwane will be starring in Greg Homann and Ralph Lawson’s A Voice I Cannot Silence.

The play, which is based on the life and work of Alan Paton, highlights the invaluable contribution made by the author of Cry, The Beloved Country who was, in the words of Douglas Livingstone, a “lighthouse in the South African twilight” during the dark decades leading up to the country’s constitutional democracy.

Paton’s internationally recognised gifts of lyric verse, evocative prose and vibrant story telling are combined to create a richly dramatic portrait.

The play focuses on his years as principal of Diepkloof Reformatory, the “toughest black borstal in the Southern Hemisphere”, where he introduced daring reforms that brought him into conflict with the architect of apartheid Hendrik Verwoerd, his position as president of the Liberal Party that led to harassment and a 10-year period during which his passport was taken away by the apartheid government, his indomitable belief in and daunting struggle for human rights, and the complexities of his personal relationships.

These weighty themes are explored through Paton’s interaction with Anne Hopkins, whom he employed in 1968 as a secretary shortly after the death of his wife Dorrie.

While trying to come to terms with his loss, the memories of his wife and their love for each other are set in contrast to his difficult days spent at the reformatory some 20 years earlier where he remembers vividly a curious young man called Sponono.

A Voice I Cannot Silence is being staged at the Rhodes Box Theatre at noon and 8.30 pm on July 10 and July 11, and at noon on July 12.

Tickets are R70, with concession tickets at R65.

A post-performance discussion with the director and cast, moderated by an arts journalist from City Press, will take place after the noon performance on July 10.

Bookings are open and can be made via the website:http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za. Ticketing call centre: 0860 002 004

Pick up a Festival programme and booking kit from selected Standard Bank and Exclusive Books. The full programme is online athttp://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za

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