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Sunday, October 4, 2009


University of KwaZulu-Natal Drama & Performance Studies programme present latest production.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal Drama & Performance Studies programme will present their latest production, Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson from October 7.

Gem of the Ocean is chronologically the first in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle dealing with African-American experience in the 20th century. This play is set in 1909 after emancipation. Racial slavery had been created one law at a time, dehumanizing a group of people and turning them into property and tools for production. The play addresses their subsequent struggle for personal and social freedom. Notions of law and labour remain instruments of capital and wealth creation and the characters in the play begin a struggle for freedom that would later emerge as the Civil Rights Movement that finally brought an African-American into the White House. The play has a triumphant spirit and in the context of recent American history it is a celebration.

This production is a creative and imaginative engagement with the play from the African side of the Atlantic. The City of Bones mentioned in the play provides an ancestral and psychic link between the African and American worlds. Gem of the Ocean resonates with current South African struggles. Apartheid was a systemic solution to labour and wealth creation and issues raised in the play speak to current tensions around the notions of freedom, poverty, labour relations, and laws that protect those in charge of capital and production.

The play has offered the student actors an opportunity to act, sing and speak Wilson’s rich and varied language as the play moves from realism into magical realism when it touches the symbols of the dream world and the ancestors.

Gem of the Ocean runs from October 7 to 10 with performances at 18h0 for 18h30 at The Square Space Theatre, Howard College campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal. It is directed by Christopher Hurst with additional music and musical direction by Faca Khulu. Students from the programme comprise the actors, designer, and technicians for this production.

More information and bookings through Claudette Wagner at 031 260 3133, email – or fax 031 260-1410.