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Sunday, February 10, 2019


(Shortly after this scene, Gino Fabbri and Ian von Memerty were carefully ushering 200 audience members to safety in the dressing rooms of the theatre) 
On Friday evening (February 8, 2019), approximately 200 striking students held an audience of 200 patrons hostage in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at UKZN campus during a performance of Ian von Memerty and Gino Fabbri’s comedy / music show, Common and Class.

The students wanted total campus shutdown and objected to the continued operation of campus-based Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The students, pounding on the glass doors of the foyer and chanting, demanded that the show stop immediately to avoid anyone being harmed. Halfway through the show the theatre management stopped the performance and kept the audience in the theatre where they waited for approximately 20 minutes.

“We could hear the students outside getting increasingly more vocal and rowdier, so we led the entire audience (including a paraplegic in a wheelchair) downstairs into the safety of the dressing rooms. We put all the lights out in the theatre and for the next two hours, we quietly waited for security and police to deal with the situation. Thankfully, we had a pro-active policeman in the audience who managed to liaise with what seemed to be a communication spaghetti - and eventually the students were dispersed, and we could lead the audience out,” explained von Memerty.

“The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre staff were magnificent, and the audience was calm, understanding and supportive. Fortunately, no-one was hurt and no property was damaged during the incident,” he added.

The incident took place at the point in the show when they were performing Sweet Transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show – with Von Memerty in full drag, fish nets and heels as Frank n Furter and Gino in blond wig and tails as his side kick, Riff Raff – having to lead the audience to safety. “You couldn’t script it better!” says von Memerty!

The show, Common and Class, was scheduled to perform at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until February 17. Following this incident, performances have been cancelled at the Sneddon because the safety of their patrons and their property can no longer be guaranteed.

“The show must go on!” In true showbiz style and not wanting to disappoint fans, the tenacious performers have creatively made a plan to ensure that the Durban run continues with as little disruption as possible. Venue mangers hearing of the situation have offered their spaces in order to accommodate the show, and the Sneddon have offered the production a return date in April.

A block-booking of pensioners was made for Sunday February 10 15h00 show, so rather than disappoint the patrons, von Memerty and Fabbri are going to the old age home to entertain the residents for the afternoon in their home, and at 18h00 will do a pop-up performance at Kloof Harvest Church.

New performance dates are:

Wednesday & Thursday February 13 and 14
Kloof Harvest Church at 19h30

No performance on Friday

Saturday February 16 at 16h00 and 20h00
Roy Couzens Theatre, Westville Boys High

Sunday February 17 at 15h00
Hilton Theatre, Hilton College

Return season at Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre:
April 3, 5, 6, at 19h30; April 4 at 19h30 and April 7 at 15h00.

For all queries, tickets and exchanges, contact Wendy on 082 661 6921.