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Thursday, September 28, 2017


(The cast and director of “To House” - pictured clockwise from back left: Sandile Mthembu, Ashwin Singh, Rowin Moonsamy, Sivani Chinappan, Michael Gritten, Ralph Lawson & Menzi Mkwane. Photo by Val Adamson)

The Singh Siblings in association with The Playhouse Company present a new production of award-winning playwright Ashwin Singh’s To House. First staged at The Playhouse in 2006, it runs in the Drama Theatre from October 5 to 7, 2017. One of Durban’s best-known international theatre pieces, it remains as relevant now as it was a decade ago, with South Africa’s continuing racial divisions and increasing class conflicts.

Directed by legendary South African theatre-maker Ralph Lawson, the new staging of To House features a distinguished cast including Michael Gritten, Menzi Mkwane, Rowin Munsamy, Sivani Chinappan, Sandile Mthembu and Ashwin Singh. 

The classic drama is set in a multi-cultural sectional titles development in a typical middle-class Durban suburb. It is essentially about the clash of the conservative cultures which dominate the Durban socio-political landscape in post-Apartheid South Africa.  Jason and Sanjay have a tentative friendship based on mutual needs and their increasing condemnation of hotshot lawyer, Sibusiso Khumalo, who lives in the same sectional titles development.

Jason is increasingly alienated from his community and is battling to deal with the consequences of his recent job loss and pending divorce. Sanjay is in a professional battle with Sibusiso and is struggling with his attraction to Sibusiso’s live-in girlfriend, Kajol, which he cannot express. Meanwhile Sibusiso longs for greater independence but has to deal with the consequences of Kajol’s mother’s ill treatment by her extended family. The arrival in the second half of the play of Kajol’s Machiavellian uncle, Deena, serves as the catalyst to expose the truth behind the characters’ courses of action which ends in a brutal confrontation between Sibusiso and Jason.

To House was first published by UK publications company Aurora Metro Books in the 2006 collective anthology, New South African Plays. In 2013, it became a headline play in Singh’s individual anthology, Durban Dialogues, Indian Voice, also published by Aurora Metro Books. The seminal work has been studied at universities in South Africa, India, Canada and Europe.

Renowned Indian scholar Prof Pranav Joshipura presented a paper on the play at the international conference on South African theatre in Brussels this year, and respected Canadian academic Dr J Coplen Rose wrote a chapter on the play in a new book entitled Relations and Networks in South African Indian Writing.

Singh says he is delighted to be working again with Lawson. The two collaborated earlier this year on the remarkably successful production of Singh’s one-man play, Reoca Light at The Playhouse (performed by Rory Booth). “Ralph is a meticulous and sensitive director. He also has a substantial appreciation of South Africa’s complex cultural milieu, so I believe that he is the perfect director for this work. I am particularly excited to be working with him on this project as it won’t just be as a playwright but also as an actor,” says Singh.

The playwright also believes To House will find an emotional resonance with a wide audience because it deals with real issues in South Africa’s contemporary socio-political landscape and features characters with which people will identify. The innovative set which Lawson has designed will also enhance the play’s visual appeal.

To House runs each evening from October 5 to 7 at 19h30 with a matinee on Saturday afternoon at 15h00. Tickets R100, with concessions for pensioners and students. Booking is via Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at, or by calling The Playhouse Box Office on 031 369 9540/ 369 9596 (office hours).