THE Hexagon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus will be playing host to two different productions in May.
From Wednesday, May 3 to Saturday, May 6 at 7.30pm, theatregoers can watch The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia, devised and directed by William le Cordeur, in the Studio Theatre. Meanwhile, in the main theatre space, there will be a performance of The Ancient at 6pm on Thursday, May 4 and Friday, May 5.
Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s Mahogony and created specifically for and by second and third year drama and performance studies students, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia is an allegory of 20 years of South African democracy.
From 1994 to 2014 and the birth of the “Fall” movements, The City of Baobabia represents expressions of freedom in the new South Africa, both morally and economically.
The play opens in 1994 where MaBegbick, a cadre turned gangster, is fleeing from the law. Her getaway vehicle, a truck, breaks down on the northern border in the middle of nowhere. Instead of continuing, she decides to create a new city of freedom, and she names it Baobabia, and proclaims the city centre the “As you like it Tavern.”
Prostitutes in the big cities hear about this new city and gather in numbers knowing it will be a gold mine for their trade. Men are recruited by MaBegbisk’s henchmen, Fatty and Moses, and they willingly leave the big cities for the promised land of Baobabia, where whiskey, women and leisure are freely available, at a price.
Jimmy Mabaso is a freedom fighter and fortune seeker who returns to South Africa in 1994 after spending his exile in the Congo, and he hears about Baobabia and heads there with his comrades. Jimmy falls in love with Jenny, a prostitute and business woman, but he is not satisfied with Baobabia, saying it is too free, too peaceful and too boring, so he encourages anarchy.
An approaching cyclone which has destroyed Pretoria and other parts of the country threatens to destroy Baobabia. Jimmy acts as the hero, a leader encouraging freedom, whilst MaBegbick takes advantage of the crisis to introduce more draconian laws.
Using song, chorus work and multi-media, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia serves as a good example of Brechtian theatre. The style is energetic, fast paced and relevant for anyone burning for change in this confusing time.
William le Cordeur directs, assisted by Francis Mennigke who also has designed the sound. Tickets are R40 at the door.
The Ancient has been inspired by the Bernard Stiegler quote: ‘The relationship between technology and humanity is one of dynamic mutual composition; what is at stake is nothing but the future of humanity.’
Constructed and directed by masters student Lungile Mncube,The Ancient is a workshopped theatre production which examines how the physical body and the cyber body inform each other in contemporary storytelling.
The production invites theatregoers into the lives of couples whose relationship is hugely influenced by technology.
It also looks at how the body has been affected by the change of technological communication, how the oral tradition of storytelling is becoming history, and the possible future influence of virtual reality.
The Ancient poses a big question on the future of humanity, and the relationships we build or destroy with technology.
Tickets are R40 (R25 for students) at the door.