The Market Theatre is heading in a new direction through a commitment to produce theatre in all of South Africa’s indigenous languages.
The move to broaden its appeal and serve all the different cultures in Johannesburg will officially begin in August with ‘Lepatata’, the first fully Setswana production ever to be staged at the Market Theatre.
Artistic Director James Ngcobo plans to commission various productions that will be staged in one of South Africa’s other official languages, to celebrate and tap into this wider cultural pool and deliver theatre that appeals to our diverse backgrounds.
The idea was tested earlier this year when the theatre produced its first wholly-Afrikaans production in 20 years, ‘As Die Broek Pas’. After that success, the theatre commissioned well-known playwright Moagi Modise to pen ‘Lepatata’, a tenacious love affair.
The play deals with the aftermath of a battle for land between the Batlhaping and the Khoikhoi/Boer alliance. After many victories, the Batlhaping have been defeated, and their regiment leader and chief, Saku, has been killed. Masilo (played by Lebogang Inno), his first born son, is forced, in surrender, to hand over cattle of the Batlhaping, and to hand over some militant members of his father’s regiment to be executed for insubordination. This act divides the tribe; half now see him as a traitor, and no longer apparent and automatic choice for the chieftaincy. They rally behind his bastard half-brother Lerumo (Omphile Molusi) to succeed their slain chief. The contest for leadership is further intensified by the fact that the two brothers are locked in a love triangle with Gadihele (Thato Barileng Malebye), the daughter of the wealthy merchant, Thutswana (Peter Moruakgomo).
Historically, the area now called Gauteng was the cradle of the Batswana people, so the production is especially relevant to the history of this area.
‘Lepatata’ is currently premiering at the Barney Simon Theatre for a limited season. Catch it until August 30.
* Performance times: Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8.15pm and Sundays at 3.15pm.
For bookings, call the box office at The Market on 011 832 1641 or 076 882 2733; or consult Computicket.