One of the greatest hits of the South African stage, the multi-award-winning musical drama, ‘Asinamali!’, is returning to the Market Theatre after a successful season at The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. It will be showing from Tuesday July 16 to August 18.
Celebrated as a show of immense vitality, sadness and humour, ‘Asinamali!’ makes for compelling theatre, mingling energetic dance and mime with hypnotic choral singing.
Written by Mbongeni Ngema, this tale of five black prisoners brought together in a South African prison is enacted like a theatrical poem, rising and falling in cadence with the sounds of singing, dancing, shouting and speaking. This classic South African play was inspired by events that surrounded the 1983 rent strike in the Lamontville township, led by the martyred activist Msizi Dube, in which the rallying cry was ‘Asinamali!’ – which is Zulu for ‘We have no money!’
With five wooden chairs and a few props, the five actors, dressed only in khaki prison shirts and shorts, take their viewers through the farms and cities, homes and factories, courtrooms and detention camps of their homeland. With a simple shift in costume, they become white policemen, supervisors and bureaucrats who bully, tease and patronize the blacks. One black man, a pig farmer, gleefully tells of his affair with his white master`s wife; another lustily acts out the life of his hero, an urban con-man. Others tell of their frustrating, humiliating search for work permits. Still others speak of their involvement with Dube`s movement. All spit out their contempt for the police informers who contributed to his death.
‘Asinamali!’ has travelled widely internationally and is one of the most important plays from apartheid South Africa. This new production is directed by Market Theatre Laboratory graduate Prince Lamla, who has just enjoyed a six-month season of his production of ‘Woza Albert!’ at the Market Theatre, which was followed by a month-long season at the Edinburgh Festival 2012.
Recent re-runs of such apartheid-era classics as ‘Woza Albert!’ , ‘Sizwe Banzi is Dead’ and ‘The Island’ have suggested that there is a new hunger for classics from the past as interpreted by a new generation of young black directors and performers.
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To make block bookings, call ext 121 or 135 on 011 832 1641.
Visit www.markettheatre.co.za for more information.