During the dark and desolate days of apartheid, blacks used dance, satire and song to lighten the heavy yoke of oppression and bring a semblance of normality in their harsh lives.
It was in those difficult times that Woza Albert!, a theatrical piece written more than three decades ago by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon, burst onto world stages with an irreverent view of the atrocities of apartheid.
Thirty years later, Woza Albert! still uses biting humour, dance, mime and song to shine a light on South Africa’s dark past. It offers an engaging and funny lesson into our historical past, which was littered with a litany of laws to ensure that black lives did not matter. However, the award-winning play is as relevant today as it was all those years ago because some of the issues it tackles are more or less the same.
It is a speech and drama schools’ set-work that brings the so-called “born-frees” up to speed with the horrors of the past and how satire was such an effective tool to deflect the venom of apartheid. Theatre veterans Mtwa and Ngema have passed on the baton to young guns in the form of the talented Mncedisi Shabangu and
For 90 minutes, the two seasoned actors captivate audiences in their role as barbers, labourers, domestic workers and soldiers as they digest the exciting news that Jesus Christ (Morena) has just landed by jumbo jet from Jerusalem to free South Africans from the chains of apartheid.
Sometimes all the actors have to do is strike a pose and the audience immediately tells if the characters have to produce a dompas to the police or possess a winning fahfee number. Morena ends up on Robben Island as the apartheid authorities grow fearful of the growing resistance against apartheid.
Woza Albert! hits Joburg Theatre’s Fridge from 5 to 19 February.
It will be on show at 10am from Tuesdays to Thursdays and at 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tickets are available at www.joburgtheatre.com or 0861 670 670 for R70 for high school pupils and pensioners. Evening performances cost R120 per person.