The Athol Fugard play ‘Nongogo’ had the Joburg Arts Alive Festival kicking in September and now it’s coming to the Market Theatre for a limited season from Wednesday October 9 to November 3, directed by The Market Theatre’s new Artistic Director James Ngcobo and starring well-known theatre actors Desmond Dube as Blackie, Tony Kgoroge as Johnny, Hamilton Dlamini as Patrick, Masasa Mbangeni as Queenie and Fana Mokoena as Sam.
‘Nongogo’ is a reflective piece of theatre and has a long history which is part of the tapestry of South Africa. It is set in the 1950’s, a vibrant yet turbulent time in the history of the country. It takes place in a shebeen in the township that is run by a shebeen queen known as Queenie, who falls for Johnny, a travelling salesman who somehow works his way past her protective shell, and coaxes her into confiding her long-buried secrets to him.
One of Fugard earliest works, the play tells the tale of displaced township individuals who are gripped by a futile longing to belong and be loved. Each character represents a certain broken-ness – Johnny, the itinerate salesman; Queenie, the reformed prostitute trying to make good in her new career as a shebeen queen; Patrick, the tyrant and pimp who is crippled by his jealousy of Queenie and Johnny’s promising romance; and Sam, whose physical disabilities mirror his broken spirit.
“Each of the cast members was chosen for their ability to take ownership of their respective characters,” explains Ngcobo. “The play’s broad theme is ‘romance’ – it’s such a timeless quality, and love is a primary emotion we all share across the differences of social status. Each actor brought a depth of emotion and understanding of their character’s complexity to the process. It makes for an extremely moving representation of the simplicity of love in a very complex era.”
* Performances are from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8.15pm and on Sundays at 3.15pm. Book at Computicket. Visit www.markettheatre.co.za for more information.