Play about Whoonga drug crisis wins big at 2016 Durban Theatre Awards


Ulwembu, a play which examines the Whoonga drug problem in KwaZulu-Natal, won five prizes at the Mercury Durban Theatre Awards. Photo: File

ULWEMBU, a play which tackles the serious consequences of the Whoonga (low grade heroin) drug problem in Durban, was one of the big winners at this year’s Mercury Durban Theatre Awards.

Over the course of 2015, award-winning playwright and director Neil Coppen (Tin Bucket Drum, Tree Boy, Abnormal Loads and Animal Farm), actress Mpume Mtombeni, KwaMashu-based community-theatre group, The Big Brotherhood, and educational sociologist, Dylan McGarry, set about exploring the crisis.

The result of the two-year research/play-making process was a powerful new theatre production, which gave audiences the opportunity to walk in the shoes of users, dealers, police officers, social-workers and parents of drug users. Continue reading


Napoleon is back to show how #AbsolutePower corrupts absolutely in Animal Farm


Animal Farm stars (from bottom left) Zuliswe Hadebe, Madisa Ndune, Mpume Mthombeni, Khutjo Green and MoMo Matsunyane.

WITH the nationwide #MustFall movements sparking debate around the nature of power and its abuses, there is arguably no better time to revisit George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which will be touring Gauteng as a stage production.

Standard Bank Young Artist Neil Coppen has skillfully woven the text from the classic novella into a hard-hitting play that resonates strongly with the South African socio-political situation. It is produced by ShakeXperience, a theatre company specialising in arts education. Continue reading

Durban theatre rocks at the 2015 BroadwayWorld South Africa Awards


Lyle Buxton and Jessica Sole in a scene from KickStArt Theatre Company’s Shrek The Musical. Photo: Val Adamson


Ralph Lawson and Clare Mortimer in A Voice I Cannot Silence at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The play, directed by Greg Homann, is based on the life, stories and poems of Alan Paton. (Photo: CuePix/Sithasolwazi Kentane)

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2015 BroadwayWorld South Africa Awards especially Greg King and Stephen Stead of KickStArt Theatre Company, the gifted talent that is Neil Coppen and exceptional actress, Clare Mortimer. Continue reading

Top notch drama heading to the Hilton Arts Festival

Don't miss Born in the RSA at the Hilton Arts Festival.

Don’t miss Born in the RSA at the Hilton Arts Festival.

SOME of the best drama shows in the country will be staged at the Hilton Arts Festival this weekend.

A Man and A Dog — featuring Fleur du Cap nominated, Nhlanhla Mhkwanazi, and directed by 2014 Fleur du Cap winner, Penelope Youngleson — is a coming-of-age story of a young Zulu boy’s search for the parents he never knew, and how he found himself on the long journey back to his home.

Originally written by Mkhwanazi, and now rewritten by Youngleson, it still maintains the essence of the much-beloved production that toured the main stages of the country in 2006.

The play makes use of oral tradition, songs and physical theatre to weave together a retelling of our collective family as South Africans. It will be staged in the Memorial Hall at 3 pm on Saturday, September 19.

Animal Farm is unmissable!

Animal Farm is unmissable!

Also coming to the festival at Hilton College, which runs from September 17 to 20, is Animal Farm, Neil Coppen’s adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel. While the themes, characters and ideas behind Orwell’s text remain unchanged, his production tells the story with a uniquely South African slant.

The play features an all-female cast: Momo Matsunyane, Mpume Mthombeni, Khutjo Bakunzi-Green, Mandisa Nduna, Zesuliwe Hadebe and Tshego Khutsoane.

Coppen says: “It’s a gift for any writer to work with Orwell’s timeless text and find creative ways to transfer it to a local farm setting without altering the source material in the process. There’s even a firepool!”

Animal Farm is being staged in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 9 am on Saturday, September 19. No under 13s.

Marty Kintu and Andrew Buckland in Blue/Orange.

Marty Kintu and Andrew Buckland in Blue/Orange.

You’d be mad to miss Joe Penhall’s gripping psychological thriller, Blue/Orange. Directed by Clare Stopford, it stars Andrew Buckland, Nicholas Pauling and Marty Kintu.

Winner of the Evening Standard Award, London Critics’ Circle Theatre Award and the 2001 Laurence Olivier Award for best new play, Blue/Orange mixes up mental illness, with issues of race, ethnocentricity and power.

See it in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 8.30 pm on September 19 and 9.30 am on September 20. No under 15s.

Born in the RSA celebrates theatre legend, Barney Simon, the man behind this historic and important play.

By fusing and interconnecting monologues and stories, the riveting drama lays bare a slice of everyday South Africa and its people during the state of emergency at the height of apartheid.

The interwoven testimonies of the seven characters, including a teacher, a housewife, a lawyer, an activist and a police spy, is brought into focus as they uncover the dangers of the oppressive system of government at the time.

The play can be seen in the Grindrod Bank Theatre at 11.30 am on September 19 and 1 pm on September 20.

James Cairns stars in El Blanco. Photo: Cue PIx

James Cairns stars in El Blanco. Photo: Cue PIx

El Blanco Tales of the Mariachi, which is performed by former ‘Maritzburg resident, James Cairns (Dirt, The Three Little Pigs, The Snow Goose) tells the epic tale of El Blanco – The White One.

Written by Gwydion Beynon (The Epicene Butcher), the play was one of only two Gold Standard Bank Ovation Award winners at this year’s National Arts Festival.

Cairns’ trademark mastery of the one-man show, coupled with Beynon’s gripping, unpredictable and hilarious text, make for a theatre experience par excellence.
See it in the Memorial Hall at 6.30 pm on September 18 and 8 pm on September 19. No under 16s.

Magnet Theatre brings its production, I Turned Away And She Was Gone, a captivating reworking of the Demeter and Persephone story to this year’s festival.

Written and performed by theatre legend Jennie Reznek and directed by Mark Fleishman, the play reviews the relationships between the three incarnations of women: a mother, a daughter and grandmother, and the passage of our past, present and future selves.

See it in the Memorial Hall at 10 am on September 19 and 20. No under 13s.

Craig Morris in Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny.

Craig Morris in Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny.

If you missed Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny at the Hexagon Theatre, then catch this National Arts Festival Golden Ovation Award winner at Hilton. Greig Coetzee’s SA classic is performed by Craig Morris and directed by Roslyn Wood-Morris with original music by the late Syd Kitchen.

Where does Johnny Boskak fit in the new SA? Is he a white trash dinosaur? Or is he the last cowboy hero in boots and blue jeans? What we know is that he’s on the road looking for love, redemption, an AK47 and the quickest way out of Secunda …

The play can be seen in the Memorial Hall at 5.30 pm on September 19 and 12.30 pm on September 20. No under 13s.

Siembamba, presented by the Rust Co-Operative, is the poignant and pointed story about the bond between a domestic worker and the child she raised in a typical South African home in the late 1980s.

Siembamba won a 2014 Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival, and performed at the 2014 Amsterdam Fringe Festival where it received an Honourable Mention and runner-up position for Best International Production.

The play is being staged in the Memorial Hall at 12.30 pm on September 19 and 2.30 pm on September 20.

The Hilton Arts Festival runs at Hilton College from September 17 to 20. To book for all these shows log onto