Winnie Mandela and Pretoria’s other opera secret

Pretoria. Just 35 minutes away, and yet the capital might as well be on a different planet for the number of times I venture there. A few weekends ago it was for an audience with South Africa’s struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and some fine Italian food. Continue reading

Sizwe Banzi, alive + kicking, at Johannesburg’s Market Theatre

Get to the Market Theatre in Newtown really fast for “Sizwe Banzi is Dead” [Last show is on Sunday]. Last night we saw an exhilirating performance of this South African classic first performed in 1972. I saw it first about 20 years ago when this country was a very different place and the tragedy of it all resonated so deeply [I was a total drama school groupie then and let me ‘fess up here to always¬† having had a penchant for the dramatic]. It’s an outstanding piece about identity, about what it means to be a man, about dignity, and about what’s in a name. Then it was also more a piece about the bleakness of being a black man under Apartheid, of having every aspect of your life circumscribed by cruel and petty laws and even more cruel and petty enforcers. Interestingly the play has not dated at all and yet the response to it now is so different. Last night in a packed Laager Theatre you could have been mistaken for thinking the piece was written as comedy – the audience laughed and laughed, Continue reading