From London to Kiev or Cape Town… South Africa and Ukraine, two countries currently navigating massive political change, will be centre stage at the Royal Court Theatre this May. Six new plays will be presented as a week of rehearsed readings in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs from 12 to 17 May in New Plays from South Africa: After 20 Years of Democracy and from 22 to 24 May, Maidan: Voices from the Uprising brings protestors’ verbatim testimonies direct from the frontline in Maidan Square, Kiev to London.
New Plays from South Africa is part of a long-term development project between the Royal Court Theatre and the British Council and is part of SA–UK Seasons 2014 & 2015.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre said:
“Our six South African readings are a culmination of a year-long project, working with writers from all over South Africa –and alongside our Ukrainian play brought together from testimonies from Maidan Square by Natal’ya Vorozhbit and Andrei Mai over the last three months are an important reminder of the reach of the Royal Court in uncovering voices and stories from all around the world through the International department. Voices which remind us what the Royal Court is for – to ask the questions of our time, to express the ideas of the future and the world we live in through theatre.”
“These pieces offer a unique insight into these places on the cusp of political change and upheaval and we are honoured to offer this platform.”
Graham Sheffield, Director Arts at the British Council, said:
“The British Council is delighted to be working with the Royal Court Theatre to provide a platform for this series of new writing from South Africa. The season sums up the work that the Connect ZA programme is doing to support artistic collaborations and to connect young writers in the UK and South Africa. The process of commissioning and producing these plays is enabling us to work with a wealth of new international theatre talent. We have high hopes for the continuation of our partnership with the Royal Court elsewhere in their international programme, in particular in the Ukraine”
New Plays from South Africa: After 20 Years of Democracy.
12-17 May, Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.
On the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration (10 May 1994), the Royal Court will stage a series of readings, offering an insight into South African life today and the urgent concerns of a younger generation two decades after the end of apartheid.
The project is part of the British Council’s Connect ZA programme, a line-up of events will run alongside the week of readings, including a panel discussion, a live poetry evening, featuring top spoken word artists from South Africa and a late night music event.
The Royal Court has been working with a group of 12 young playwrights from across South Africa for a year, as part of the theatre’s international remit, which supports and develops playwrights and theatre artists around the world in 70 countries, in over 40 languages.
Led by British playwrights Leo Butler, Winsome Pinnock and International Director, Elyse Dodgson, these six plays, presented at the Royal Court as works-in-progress, look at absent fathers, political corruption, sexuality, race and religion in contemporary South Africa and the legacy of the new generation of children, growing up as ‘born frees’.
The Royal Court’s relationship with South Africa dates back to 1971 when, during apartheid, a mixed company came to the Royal Court and performed three works by Athol Fugard, including The Island and Sizwe Banze is Dead. On the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election, the Royal Court will mark this moment, staging work by South Africa’s new generation of writers.
New Plays from South Africa is presented as part of International Playwrights: A Genesis Foundation Project and this project was undertaken in partnership with the British Council’s Connect ZA programme.
Monday 12 May, 7pm.
A New Song.
By Napo Masheane.
Directed by Richard Twyman.
Thokoza is a domestic worker who persuades her sister workers to get involved in the Anti Pass Book campaign of the 1950s. The women whose voices took centre stage in the “struggle” are vividly brought to life in this celebration of political action, song and friendship.
Tuesday 13 May, 7pm.
By Neil Coppen.
Directed by Simon Godwin.
Jacques is an anaesthetist working in a hospital in a rural community. Sizwe is a dancer who is connecting with his ancestors. When they meet for casual sex, memory and tradition collide. A hallucinatory exploration of sexuality, race and religion in contemporary South Africa.
Wednesday 14 May, 7pm.
Fana La Fale (Here and There).
By Omphile Molusi, translated from Setswana by the playwright.
Directed by Dawn Walton.
Street clown Wilfred and his girlfriend Cindy live in a shack of corrugated iron. Joined by their young relatives, “born frees” with very different dreams, they start a fight against a corrupt housing system to drag themselves out of life in the slums.
Thursday 15 May, 7pm.
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd.
Ben and Skinn are out on a joint run. With the weed still burning a hole in their pockets they’re stopped by the police. The drive home from a night out turns into a brutal journey which leaves the accused and his accuser changed forever. A suspense drama that looks at old divisions in a new country.
Friday 16 May, 7pm.
All Who Pass.
By Amy Jephta.
District 6, Cape Town, 1974. The inner-city neighboured is being forcibly cleared by the apartheid regime. 2013, a daughter returns to claim her inheritance and exorcise the ghosts of what took place there. A journey to a landscape of memories past and present.
Friday 16 May, 8.45pm.
Performance Poetry from South Africa.
Curated by poet, singer, spoken word artist and writer, Leeto Thale, the night includes a guest slot from Thabiso Mohare (aka Afurakan) ‘the crown prince of Johannesburg’s underground slam poetry scene.’
Followed by South African music and DJs in the Royal Court Bar & Kitchen ‘til late.
Saturday 17 May, 3pm.
The Last MK Fighter.
By Simo Majola.
directed by Ola Animashawun.
Mshiyeni lives with the nightmares of his comrades who were left behind in Angola fighting for South Africa’s freedom. And fights with his son, who blames him for the years he was absent as a father. A heartbreaking story searching for a new understanding of the sacrifices made for one’s country.
Saturday 17 May, 4pm.
Panel discussion (Free but ticketed).
New Writing in South Africa, with playwrights Simo Majola, Mongiwekaya, Amy Jephta, Omphile Molusi, Neil Coppen, Napo Masheane, hosted by the Royal Court’s International Director Elyse Dodgson.
Tickets for all readings £8 per reading available at www.royalcourttheatre.com 020 7565 5000