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Saturday, March 7, 2020


(Actors and tour guides, Qhawe Vumase & Philisiwe Ntintili. Pic by Luke MacDonald)

A Day At The Museum, PhD student, Stephanie Jenkins will be bringing history to life with her Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause at the KwaMuhle Museum on Saturday March 14, 2020.

As part of her PhD, Jenkins is conducting a study exploring the role museum theatre can have in teaching, questioning and learning about history. She is staging a number of shows specifically targeting Grade 11 History learners. To this end, she has been contacting the schools directly for their attendance. She also wants the public to experience the show so is staging two public performances on March 14.

The performance piece is entitled Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause and is taking place among the exhibits in the KwaMuhle Museum. It involves three actor-guides who take the audience around the rooms of the museum while acting out a number of historical characters and evoking narratives associated with the history of the museum. There is an immersive element as the audience also becomes 'part' of the show as they move with the actor-guides from rooms such as the beer hall replica to the yard where people in the past had their passes stamped.

The actor-guides include well known performer Mthokozisi Zulu whose theatrical credits include KickstArt’s Alice in Wonderland, Charlotte’s Web, Cinderella and the Play That Goes Wrong. Zulu is joined by DUT Drama graduate, Philisiwe Ntintili. She has appeared in a number of shows for DUT, including the 2019 Chinese tour of UMjondolo and has recently starred in the Durban Adult Pantomimes, Twice upon a Mattress and 031 Temptations. Rounding up the team is UKZN Drama and Marketing graduate, Qhawe Vumase, an exciting new presence in the Durban acting scene. He has recently appeared in Stephanie Jenkins’ Hudson and Watson and the Mystery of the Blue Diamond which was staged in both Durban and the National Arts Festival in 2018.

Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause is a weaving together of archival evidence pertinent to the histories presented in the KwaMuhle Museum. The museum itself is rich in history as the building was formally the Native Administration Affairs Department where people of colour in Durban had to come to have their passbook or ‘dompas’ stamped to get work. A number of recorded interviews with people who either worked in the Department or came to KwaMuhle to have their passes stamped have been dramatised in the play.

The other main focus of the museum that is explored in the play is the role the beer hall had as a form of control and resistance during apartheid. The audience is taken into the beer hall replica and will be encouraged to experience how the beer halls operated. They will also be part of a court case that tried several women and men who were involved in the 1959 beerhall protests. The audience will then enter into a replica of workers’ living quarters and hear about some of the arguments around the validity of such housing. Through the play the audience will be encouraged to encounter history in a new way as they journey with the actor-guides through the museum and the narratives present.

Public performances are on Saturday March 14 at 12h00 and 14h00 at the KwaMuhle Museum, 130 Bram Fischer Road, Durban. Admission is free, however booking is essential. WhatsApp ONLY Stephanie on 081 846 7331 to book or for more information.