Mine Boy Wows Audiences at Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre
The first musical adaptation of Peter Abraham’s novel, Mine Boy, was staged at UKZN’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre recently.
The production, directed by Mr Roel Twijnstra and Mr Jerry Pooe, is a collaborative venture between UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies and the Wushwini Arts and Culture Heritage Centre.
This classic text, written in 1949, is considered the first modern South African novel written by a Black author and over time has not lost any relevance as the themes around apartheid, labour and poverty still exist in the country today. The show questions what has really changed since 1994?
After successful adaptations of Zakes Mda’s Madonna of Excelsior and Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, the directors adapted this definitive novel with exciting choreography by Sphiso Majola of Flatfoot Dance Company together with the cast.
Co-director of the production, Twijnstra spoke to the theme of celebrating 20 years of democracy, pointing out that the novel adaptation of Mine Boy was done to show how democracy had changed the country even though South Africans still experienced the harsh realities of poverty.
‘We felt this novel should be a part of the celebration but also to show the achievements of democracy. After a successful run at the Stable Theatre, we came to the Sneddon to showcase this modern novel adaptation and we are proud of the Mine Boy production.’
This production was made possible through generous support from the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of eThekwini, UKZN and Santam.
The production also allowed both postgraduate and undergraduate students from UKZN’s Drama and Performance Studies to audition for the various character roles of Mine Boy. Those who were successful formed part of the production team, adding to their community engagement activities the department is constantly working on.
Speaking about the production, Lecturer within the Drama and Performance Studies Department, Dr Miranda Young-Jahangeer, said the segment fell under the annual departmental slot, where the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre offered Drama and Performance Studies students two weeks in the theatre for free to honour their learning process.
‘Working with Roel and Jerry in this fantastic production has been an invaluable experience for our students,’ said Young-Jahangeer. ‘They have had a chance to work at a professional level and have risen fabulously to the occasion. We are all very proud of them.
‘The donation from Santam also goes to support several other initiatives including weekly drama programmes with Hillview Secondary in Newlands, the Ethelbert Children’s home, Bechet High School in Sydenham, Prison theatre programmes in Westville Female Correctional Centre, as well as Dance programmes in Umlazi and KwaMashu run by the Flatfoot Dance Company.’
Ms Nicola Latchiah of the UKZN Foundation said: ‘Funding was secured from Santam for the College of Humanities providing the students with opportunities to engage in creative arts programmes with surrounding and local communities.’
UKZN Drama students Ms Nqobile Mthembu and Ms Chuma Mapoma said being a part of the performance had been both exciting and a learning experience. ‘Working on the production was life-changing and we learned so much from the cast, crew and the directors. It was a lot of hard work. But we appreciate the opportunity given to us to be a part of this show,’ said Mapoma.
Director Twijnstra described the UKZN Drama students as both professional and eager to learn. ‘It was indeed a learning experience for the students as they had to learn the discipline of the stage but they also got to work with other professional actors who gave them advice on making it in the industry. By being a part of the cast, they got to see first-hand the intricacies of putting together a production of this calibre.’
He advised the students to work hard, to own the stage in their own right and to claim their territory in what was a competitive industry.