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Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s Mahogony and created specifically for and by 2nd and 3rd Year Drama and Performance Studies students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia is adapted for a South African audience.

The play is an allegory of 20 years of South African democracy. From 1994 to 2014 and the birth of the “Fall” movements, The City of Baobabia represents expressions of freedom in the new South Africa, both morally and economically.

The year is 1994, and MaBegbick, a cadre-turned-gangster, is fleeing from the law. Her getaway vehicle, a truck, breaks down on the northern border in the middle of nowhere. Instead of continuing, she decides to create a new city of freedom, and she names it Baobabia, and proclaims the city centre the “As you like it Tavern.”

Prostitutes in the big cities hear about this new city and gather in numbers knowing it will be a gold mine for their trade. Men are recruited by MaBegbisk’s henchmen, Fatty and Moses, and they willingly leave the big cities for the promised land of Baobabia, where whisky, women and leisure are freely available, at a price.

Jimmy Mabaso is a freedom fighter and fortune seeker who returns to South Africa in 1994 after spending his exile in the Congo, and he hears about Baobabia and heads there with his comrades. Jimmy falls in love with Jenny, a prostitute and business woman. Jimmy is not satisfied with Baobabia, saying it is too free, too peaceful and too boring, so he encourages anarchy. An approaching cyclone which has destroyed Pretoria and other parts of the country, threatens to destroy Baobabia. Jimmy acts as the hero, a leader encouraging freedom, whilst MaBegbick takes advantage of the crisis introducing more draconian laws, developing a fascist front to the city of freedom.

Using song, chorus work and multi-media, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia serves as a good example of Brechtian theatre. The style is energetic, fast paced and relevant for anyone burning for change in this confusing time.

Devised and directed by William le Cordeur, assisted by Francis Mennigke who also has designed the sound, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia runs from May 3 to 6 at 19h30 at the Hexagon Studio Theatre on the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus. Tickets R40 at the door.