By Edward Tsumele
Usually this time in normal times, black lives and black people’s lived experiences, especially in the US, and by extension, elsewhere, would be celebrated in style at the Market Theatre in Newtown.
But with the rampaging novel coronavirus causing havoc in societies globally, it cannot be marked as a normal event of black centred theatre this year, as the world is in a subdued mood due to the pandemic. But like they say in theatre, the show has to go on, of course conditionally.
But at least something is happening there nevertheless, to mark, what has become an important theatrical calendar, especially in South Africa in the past few years. And quite interestingly, the staging of this interesting concept, at the Market Theatre in Newtown, a programme that always digs deep into historical events that shaped often tumultuous events in the US involving anti black racism, predates the now famous global human rights Campaign ,Black Lives Matter. Its formation triggered by a series of horrible events that often played itself out in the US, especially during the controversial divisive presidency of one Donald Trump, who is in the middle of being tried by the US Senate as now a reluctant Ex-President, The Black Lives Matter movement has reframed the black experience, in new global terms.
This programme of black centred theatre at the famous venue came with the arrival of its current artistic director James Ngcobo, currently serving his second term at the theatre as artistic director.
Even more interesting, and in a way ironic, this programme of theatre which touches on manly the marginalisation of black lives in the US, has been sponsored by the US Embassy in South Africa, during the Barrack Obama, the controversial Donald Trump, and now, Joe Biden administrations. Perhaps certain governments may learn something about the need to honour what has been laid down by successive, adversary administrations here, no matter how such administrations may differ with regards to certain key policies.
To be staged at the Market Theatre as part of a programme that traditionally took place in February, Black History Month, annually, is a piece entitled Passover.
The Market Theatre presents Pass Over, written by Antionette Nwandu, directed by James Ngcobo by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French Inc will make its South African debut from Friday 26 February – Sunday 28 March 2021.
Pass Ove rexplores the unquestionable human spirit of young black men who dream about a promised land and hoping a miracle will happen.
Moses and Kitch are struggling to survive in the tough streets of America. A provocative riff on Waiting for Godot, it’s a rare piece of politically charged theatre by Antionette who is a bold new American voice.
Pass Over is staged in commemoration of Black History Month. Although mainly celebrated in America, the play, like several others also staged at the famous theatre venue over the past few years, is expected to inspire South Africans to have the tough discourse around issues of common interest with the US black experience, like police brutality and white supremacy long after Apartheid.
The South African premier of Pass Over production stars Charlie Bouguenon, Hungani Ndlovu and Khathu Ramabulana. The trio has been gifted with a challenging task of portraying larger than life characters in the play that resemble real life stories.
Kabomo Vilakazi or simply known as Kabomo is no stranger to South African audiences, he joins the creative team of Pass Overas musical composer. Speaking on his journey for the creation of the music he had this to say “I have created music that will help Pass Over turn the volume up on some of the key themes in the play such as brotherhood, black empowerment, self-belief, violence, white privilege fear, trust, trauma etc. The music is going to be emotional and the genres I will be dabbling between rap and jazz chords in quite places. This will allow the story to flow uninterrupted”.
Kabomo best known for the roles in the films and television series Zabalaza , Sink and Seriously Single. Apart from acting, he is also a writer, poet, editor, musician, rapper, producer and an artist manager.
James Ngcobo’s passion for working with emerging actors, young designers and for mentoring young industry enthusiasts has yielded impressive results. In Pass Over he chose Sibusisiwe Gugu Manqele as assistant director. Sibusisiwe is currently writing for GOMORA the Mnet Mzansi Magic Telenovela.
She has written two plays YINI? / WHAT IS IT? And Migration of the Heart. She starred in a lead role on the SABC award winning edutainment series Intersextions 2 in 2013, had a feature role in Saints and Sinners 1 on Mzansi Magic and starred as a guest presenter on SABC 1’s YOTV Crib notes
Pass Over premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago in May 2017. The play was recorded live at the Steppenwolf Theatre, adapted for film by co-director Danya Taymor and co-director and producer Spike Lee and premiered on Amazon Prime Video on April 20, 2018.
Catch the South African premier of this spectacular drama Pass Over from Friday 26 February to Sunday 28 Mach 2021.
PRODUCTION INFORMATION CREATIVE TEAM
Writer Antoinette Nwandu
Director James Ngcobo
Assistant Director Sibusisiwe Manqele
Musical Composer Kabomo Vilakazi
Set Designer Nadya Cohen
Costume Designer Busisiwe Nkabinde
Lighting Designer Mandla Mtshali
Sound Designer Ntuthuko Mbuyazi
AV Designer Thabang Lehobye
Stage Manager Lebeisa Molapo
Charlie Bouguenon as The Man
Hungani Ndlovu as Kitch
Khathu Ramabulana as Moses
Age Recommendation 13
Season: Friday 26 February – Sunday 28 March 2021
Venue: The John Kani Theatre
Performance times: Tuesday – Saturday @18h00 and Sunday @15h00
Ticket prices: Tuesday – Thursday R90.00 Friday – Saturday R150.00 and Sunday R130.00