Two brilliant plays of the 80s return to the stage
Two brilliant and acclaimed theatre productions from the 1980s are set to be staged over the next few weeks.
“Egoli” and “Woza Albert!”‚ both written in the early 1980s‚ were probably the two greatest theatre productions of the period.
Woza Albert!‚ written by Percy Mtwa‚ Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon‚ was the most successful play to come out of South Africa‚ winning more than 20 prestigious awards throughout the world.
The theme of the play‚ the return of Jesus to apartheid-era South Africa‚ allowed the actors to highlight essential aspects of the system‚ its brutalities and its foibles‚ and used a string of techniques and devices to show what life was like for the black‚ poor and unemployed.
Originally created by the trio‚ Mtwa and Mbongeni took audiences on a startling journey‚ using literary and formal innovations that stunned audiences.
Egoli was equally ground-breaking‚ depicting the lives of miners in a mining compound using a brute realism as well as hallucinatory delirium.
Written by Matsemela Manaka‚ the play was performed by John Moalusi Ledwaba and Hamilton Mahonga Silwane at the Market Theatre‚ at the time a fairly new space for works relevant to the oppressed majority.
The play presents the lives of migrant workers by using a series of innovative techniques‚ including dream sequences‚ hallucinations‚ mimed working scenes and flashbacks. In one scene‚ in the original production‚ one of the actors would vomit onto the stage every night‚ making for a stark and brutal form of realism that made surrealism seem tame by comparison.
Woza Albert‚ featuring Mncedisi Shabangu and Hamilton Dhlamini‚ will be performed at the Joburg Theatre from 5 to 19 February.
Egoli‚ featuring Hamilton Dlamini‚ Lebohang Motaung‚ Alfred Motlhapi‚ Billy Langa‚ Faith Busika‚ Katlego Letsholonyana and Mohlatsi Mokgonyana‚ will be on at the Market Theatre from 13-30 January.