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Saturday, April 29, 2017


The Durban University of Technology Department of Drama and production studies will present a re-interpretation of Welcome Msomi's iconic and critically acclaimed 1971 play, uMabatha, from May 14 to 18. The Department takes pleasure in saluting a local living legend with this production.

Msomi's play offers a localized reading of Shakespeare's Macbeth and became known as ‘the Zulu Macbeth'. Msomi explored themes in Macbeth – such as abuse of power and unchecked ambition, and their potential to corrupt; greed and deceit; tyranny and oppression; and fate versus free will – in the context of early 19th-century South Africa. He (freely) interpreted and aligned Shakespeare's narrative to run parallel to the historical narrative of Shaka kaSenzangakhona (Shaka Zulu).

Characters and locations were transposed to a local context: Macbeth, Macduff, Lady Macbeth and Banquo become Mabatha, Mafudu, Kamadonsela and Bhangane respectively, and the invading army that defeats Mabatha is Swazi. The play is a landmark in the South African theatre landscape.

uMabatha is directed by DUT’s drama lecturer Siza KaMnisi Mthembu and features a cast of 55 2nd year students.

uMabatha premiered at the Open Air Theatre at the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal) in 1971 when Msomi was a drama student there. He was invited to close the Royal Shakespeare Company's World Theatre Season in London with his play in 1972. The production was remounted in 1973 at London's Aldwych Theatre, where it broke all box office records. The play was subsequently staged numerous times during the 1970s, including productions at the Italian and American Spoleto Festivals, London's Old Vic (1977) and for three months at an off-Broadway theatre in New York City, as well as at various theatres in Aberdeen in Scotland, Zimbabwe, Cape Town and Johannesburg. uMabatha was revived in post-Apartheid South Africa in 1995 at the request of Nelson Mandela

Umabatha will run at the Courtyard Theatre from May 14 to 18 with performances at 18h00. Tickets R40 (R20 students). For more information, contact Lebo Sibisi on 031 373 2194