Sizwe Banzi is Dead, directed by John Kani, and starring Mncedisi Shabangu and Atandwa Kani, can be seen at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town this August and September, following its successful in the United States earlier this year.
It’s been 40 years since John Kani and Winston Ntshona won the best actor Tony Award for their performances in the play, co-created with Athol Fugard, and nearly a decade since the two theatre veterans reprised their roles at the Baxter in 2006.
The award-winning production tells the tale of the universal struggle for human dignity, as a black man in apartheid-era South Africa tries to overcome oppressive work regulations to support his family.
This new production was originally produced by the Market Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center and Syracuse Stage and was performed in Johannesburg, Princeton and Syracuse in the United States.
The New York Times called it “A joyous hymn to human nature”, while The New York Post described it as “Hypnotic … Overwhelming compassion … Powerful” and On Stage said, “Kani and Shabangu give a riveting performance worthy of the material. This is a must-see production.”
Mannie Manim, producer and lighting designer, has been involved with the production since the late 70s.
Kani and Ntshona performed the play in South Africa, England and on Broadway, where they jointly won the coveted Tony Award. In 1976 they were arrested by the Apartheid Secret Police and were detained in solitary confinement for 23 days. They were only released because of massive demonstrations by the arts fraternity all over the world.
“Sizwe Banzi is Dead became a statement that articulated the anger of black people against these laws,” says Kani. “It’s about the universal struggle of identity, of the dignity of the human being, and respect for humanity.
“Winston, Athol and I were like Drs Frankenstein creating a monster that has occupied our lives for more than four decades. When Syracuse and Princeton Theatres asked me to revive this production I was very elated. It gave me the opportunity to work with younger South African actors who were not even born when this play was first staged.”
Mncedisi was recently seen in Lara Foot’s Fishers of Hope and Tshepang while Atandwa was last seen at the Baxter in The Miser, Hayani and The Tempest.
Sizwe Banzi is Dead previews from August 19 to 20, opens on August 21 and runs until September 12 at 7.30 pm nightly in the Baxter Flipside. There is also a matinee on Saturday, August 22 at 2 pm. Tickets are R120 (previews, matinee and Baxter Mondays), R130 Tuesday to Thursday and R150 over weekends. The Baxter Monday special applies where patrons pay R120 which includes a meal and the performance.
Booking is through Computicket. For any discount on corporate, school, charity, or fundrasing events, as well as block bookings, please contact Sharon at 021 680 3962 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone Carmen at 021 680 3993 or email email@example.com.