national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, September 25, 2010


(Pic: Ashim Saxena and Shalini Singh)

Stage play tackles the harsh realities of colonialism in the 1800’s.

Escaping the punishment of being a widow in India, a young lady boards a ship to join the indentured recruits on route to Africa. She finds herself on the plantation of a wealthy farmer where the slave supervisor seeks to exploit her. Friends are made and hearts are broken whilst the chances of surviving in this new land become more of a distant reality than expected. The Indians turn on each other in these volatile conditions; but they also turn to each other. Action becomes impulsive and survival becomes instinctive. Will love and compassion save the day?

Yusuf Haffejee’s stage play BitterSweet tackles the harsh realities of colonialism in the 1800’s. While records reveal that spirits were broken and love was lost, the Indians in South Africa have made a major contribution to the economy since then. They have contributed to its development and freedom. Yusuf handed over the task of producing this very sensitive but entertaining piece to Farouk Hoosen who has a solid history in the theatre business.

The production celebrates the 150th anniversary of the arrivals of Indians to the shores of South Africa and stringent casting was enforced to identify actors that not only suited the roles but had the talent to carry out the responsibility of their importance.

Director Pranesh Maharaj states: “BitterSweet will appeal to today’s audience in that it captures the heart with its love story, accounts for the very existence of the brown man in South Africa and descends on the masters of this plan that sought to exploit people whom they never expected to rise out of the ash.”

The cast includes Shalini Singh (Selvie in Lotus FM’s radio drama Lollipop Lane), former stand-up comedian Ruben Naidoo and Lovie Ramas Rai recently back in Durban from Cape Town after playing Mothi in Ronnie Govender’s Lahnee’s Pleasure at Artscape. Also appearing will be Denver Naidoo who appeared in various local films including Run for your Life and Broken Promises; Raj Naidoo who is an accountant by profession, and Indian National Ashim Saxena who has only been in South Africa for six months.

Coinciding with the premier of the show is the launch of Raag Rung, a CD by the talented and renowned Ustad Ravi and his Foundation for Indian Music. “The group will also feature live at every performance, providing the background score to this incredible story,” explains Pranesh Maharah. “The synergy of a great script and the sounds provided by these musicians is one to look forward to as this combination is very rare.”

BitterSweet runs in the Howard College Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from September 29 to October 10. Tickets R80 and R60 available from Computicket. Organisations looking to make use of this show to raise funds should contact Farouk on 084 581 8186.