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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


(Belinda Henwood and Sello Maake Ka-Ncube)

The Playhouse Company has pulled off a major theatrical coup in securing the rights to produce the South African premiere of Race, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet’s contentious 2009 play. Produced by special arrangement with Abrams Artists Agency New York, this extremely significant piece will feature a cast of South Africa’s top actors, working with a powerhouse creative team.

The central production in The Playhouse Company’s 2011 New Stages season, Race opens in the Playhouse Drama on October 15. Its riveting plot revolves around three lawyers, two partners, one African-American, one white, and their young, African-American law clerk, who are debating whether or not to take the case of a wealthy white man accused of raping an African-American woman. The play, like the case, is not open and shut. Shame, guilt, class, sex, lies and, of course, race, are all provocatively stirred together in this fast-paced play that is guaranteed to leave theatregoers dissecting and discussing it long after the curtain goes down.

Directed by Clare Mortimer and designed by Sarah Roberts with lighting designed by Mannie Manim, The Playhouse Company’s stellar cast will include Sello Maake Ka-Ncube and Michael Richards in the roles of the legal partners (Henry Brown and Jack Lawson), with Ralph Lawson playing Charles Stickland, the character accused of rape. Award-winning Durban actress Belinda Henwood will appear in the pivotal role of Susan, the young legal intern.

Accounting for the extraordinary impact of Mamet’s play on audiences, Mortimer says one has to look to the famous playwright’s “crackling dialogue, the twists in the tale, and the cliff-hangers of unexpected developments of his plot that are as riveting as any thriller to be seen on screen.”

As Mamet himself wrote in an essay about his work, “Race, like sex, is a subject on which it is near impossible to tell the truth.” Audience members will undoubtedly bring their own set of judgments and preconceptions into this work that delves into a most complicated and fraught subject.

Linda Bukhosini, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of The Playhouse Company, states: “The topic of Race is one that is central to the lives of all South Africans, particularly so in the aftermath of the shameful racism that prevailed before and during the apartheid years. People in this country still struggle to abide by the Non Racism clause that is entrenched in present-day South Africa’s constitution. By staging David Mamet’s play, we hope to open up a healthy debate around this controversial issue, in the interests of striving for better understanding between our various communities.”

Race runs in The Playhouse Drama from October 15 to 22. Early booking is strongly advised. Pre-booked tickets R80 and R90 (R90 and R100 bought at the box office immediately prior to performances). For performance times and pre-bookings call Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or book online at Bookings can also be made through the Playhouse box office on 031 369 9540 (office hours).