Star-studded team brings world première of Damon Galgut’s THE PROMISE to the stage, directed by Sylvaine Strike

By CityLIfe Arts Writer

In what promises to be one of the most thrilling theatre highlights of the year, the stage production of Damon Galgut’s Booker Prize-winning novel, THE PROMISE, had its world premiere in Cape Town this September.  Club Dezza Productions and The Market Theatre present Damon Galgut’s THE PROMISE. featuring a star-studded South African cast and creative team, the production is directed by internationally acclaimed, multiple award-winning director Sylvaine Strike.

THE PROMISE will be presented at The Market Theatre on The John Kani stage from 18 October to 5November 2023. 

THE PROMISE, on stage, is written by Damon Galgut, directed by Sylvaine Strike with stage adaptation by Damon Galgut and Sylvaine Strike.

The dazzling cast line-up is: Rob van Vuuren(Curse of the Starving Class, Endgame) as Anton; Kate Normington (Tali’s Baby Diaries, Storm in a B-Cup) as Ma and Maman; Frank Opperman (Ouboet and Wors, Toutjies en Ferreira) as Pa/Rabbi/Moti; Chuma Sopotela (Standard Bank Young Artist, Karoo Moose) as Salome; Cintaine Schutte (Die Seemeeu, Fynskrif, Tien Duisend Ton) as Tannie Marina/Desiree; Jenny Stead (The Glass Menagerie, Elesin Oba) as Astrid; Albert Pretorius (Die Seemeeu, Nêrens, Noord-Kaap, Tien Duisend Ton) as Dominee Simms/ Ockie/ Dean/ Jake/ Father Batty; Sanda Shandu(Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Unlikely Secret Agent) as Lukas/Bob/Politician and Jane de Wet (Spoorloos, The Watch) as Amor.

The dream creative team is completed with Sound Design and Original Music Composition by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder (King Kong); Set and Lighting Design by Josh Lindberg(Cruise);Costume Design by Penny Simpson(The Producers) and Choreography by Natalie Fisher (Free Flight Dance Company).

In a discussion process spanning almost two years, Galgut and Strike have identified a visual language through which this seminal family drama will unfold, supported by a uniquely chorus-driven narration.

Our recent workshop week was an extraordinary process of discovery with the author, cast and creative team. They were absolutely formidable! We were able to spend time decoding The Promise as a novel, and develop a physical, poetic language to turn it into a theatre encounter,” says director Sylvaine Strike.

“Funny, confrontational and powerful, this production gives the novel a whole new life. It will speak to audiences in the most intimate way possible.”

It’s been an honor to work with the script penned by Damon, which harnesses his novel in all its beauty, humour and devastation. He is a master storyteller, writing remarkable prose with a profoundly complex understanding of human relationships.,”she says.

On the edge of District Six, and home to the District Six Museum, the Homecoming Centre is the perfect symbolic venue for a work dealing with the most charged of all South African issues,”says Damon Galgut.

Greg Homann, the Artistic Director of the iconic Market Theatre, adds, “Having Damon Galgut’s compelling story on stage at the Market Theatre immediately after its world premiere in Cape Town is simply wonderful news for our audience. We are thrilled to be partnering on the production,and can’t wait to welcome Sylvaine and the exceptional cast and creative team to Johannesburg for this theatrical telling of one of the most celebrated novels of our time.”

Jenny Stead and Sanda Shandu in The Promise on Stage. Photo-credit Claude Barnardo

“I am a great fan of Sylvaine’s work,” Galgut comments. “The detailed physical transformations, vivid imagery, pathos and hilarity of her productions remain in audience’s hearts long after a show has ended.  Her directorial signature, seen in her work on productions such as Beckett’s Endgame, Firefly, Molière’s Tartuffe, and Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class, draws on the poetry of the performer’s body as primary story teller. She is the perfect director to bring The Promise to life on stage and I am greatly looking forward to seeing the final result!’

Galgut was awarded the prestigious Booker Prize for THE PROMISEin 2021. It is only the third time a South African writer has been given that honor.

The story: On a small farm outside Pretoria, the Swart family – “a typical bunch of white South Africans” – tries to hold itself together through the violent lurches of recent history. They have promised to give a small piece of land with a tiny house on it to Salome, the Sotho woman who has worked for them her whole life. A worthless property, but still, they will not give it up.

Are they cursed, or just unlucky? One by one, members of the family die, while everything around them changes and they try to stay the same. Only two siblings will eventually be left, facing each other over a great divide: Anton, the tormented older brother, and Amor, his strange younger sister.

Diarise the dates to ensure you don’t miss one of the must-see cultural events of the year!

To make block bookings and discounts please contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 832 1641ext 203/ 083 246 4950.

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