It’s local, it’s lekker, it’s … an Athenian tragedy. Yes, things haven’t changed much since 430BC and if you thought Sophocles was out of touch, think again. Prophets, patricide and incest are all still around, setting the stage for a thrilling whodunnit, Mzansi-style.
Wits Theatre, Wits School of Arts, in partnership with The Market Theatre presents a scintillating performance of Vumani Oedipus – an Africanisation of the classic murder mystery. Directed by Wits lecturer Samuel Ravengai, Vumani Oedipus completed it’s run at the Market Theatre’s Barney Simon Theatre on Saturday evening. The final performance was filled to capacity, and the students were greeted by tumultuous applause at the end of the evening.
The play was an “Africanised” Oedipus Rex, situating the original play within a fictional nation called Nguniland. The play explores a man’s attempt to escape his awful destiny foretold at his birth by a sangoma.“The philosophy of the play hinges on the power of the metaphysical world on humans, and already suits the African context where the interpenetration of metaphysics and reality is part of the African worldview,” said Ravengai. Vumani Oedipus was created by, and features, students (and a lecturer) from Wits School of the Arts as well as actors from the Market Theatre Laboratory.
“This partnership with Wits ties in perfectly with the intentions of the Market Laboratory drama school, to train young performers and theatre-makers to be professional, disciplined, and excellent in their craft. We are thrilled about the partnership between the Market Theatre and Wits,” said artistic director at the Market Theatre, James Ngcobo.
The set was designed by Claudia Hansen. Vumani Oedipus starred the Market Theatre Lab’s Lucky Ndlovu as Oedipus. The production featured students who are studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts at Wits, including: Sibusiso Mkhize (who plays Creon), Nonkululeko Mdluli (the Priest), Nomfundo Shezi (Jocasta), Sandile Menze (from Wits Drama for Life, who plays Tiresi/Sangoma), Stembiso Khalishwayo (who is studying a Bachelor of Arts in performing and visual arts at Wits is Lotshe/Messenger), Nash Pilingane (from the Market Theatre Lab plays the second messenger), Bradley Cebekhulu (Shepherd /Old man), Mpho Matshaya (Antigone), Ratanang Mogotsi (Ismene) and Sandile Mazibuko (Attendant 1). Five Imbongis were played by Sarah Nansubuga, Amohelang Hlakotsa, Delisile Mzimela, Vuyo Madyibi (Market Theatre Lab) and Khuleka Xulu.