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Wednesday, August 29, 2018


(Andile Mbatha, Lelona Holweni, & Lanzy Ngcobo. Pic by Val Adamson)

Dying For Money ...  Well done to the team for braving this songspiel. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

DUT's Drama and Production Studies Department is presenting From Marikana to Mahagonny at the Courtyard Theatre. Under the directorship of Dr Pamela Tancsik and musical direction by Richardt Wissink, this fusion style theatre between the digital world and live performance reveals a video footage of the brutal massacre that took place in Marikana in August 2012, where 34 miners were killed by SAPS and draws comparison, thematically, to Mahagonny Songspiel.

This Operatic music, a 'scenic cantata', features lyrics by Bertold Brecht and five songs composed by Kurt Weill from 1927. The Mahagonny law allowed for the execution of citizens who could not repay their debts.

I found the video footage to be devastatingly brutal as it is a documentary of live action of this event, said to be one of the most menacing massacres in post-apartheid times. I expected the action that followed on stage to have stronger ties than it did to the video. However, this was not the case. I feel that stronger links would help the show to find more theatrical leverage.

I found this to be an incredible opportunity for students to explore Opera as a performance medium but felt that some ambience microphones would assist in carrying those voices out to the audience members. I did relish in the vocal stylings of Lelona Holweni (tenor) who seemed to stand out above the rest. Other noteworthy performances include Senzeka Mnguni, Sinqobile Kunene and Othembele Nomgca (tenor).

I adored the idea of the set on wheels but failed to see the relationship of the pictures to the dramatic action on stage. I found myself questioning various things at the end of the show and then reminded myself that in true Brechtian style this questioning was vital. Well done to the team for braving this songspiel.

From Marikana to Mahagonny runs until August 31 at 19h30 in the Courtyard Theatre on the DUT Steve Biko Campus. Tickets at the door. For more information contact 031 373 2194. - Verne Rowin Munsamy