Insight into indentured labourers’ lives

2010-11-09 00:00

THE Coolie Odyssey, Rajesh Gopie’s insightful production about the lives of Indian indentured workers, has been reworked and redirected by Gopie (best known for his one-man show, Out of Bounds) for a short season at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino from November 12 to 21.

The play, which is being presented as a special event to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Indians arriving in South Africa, premiered at the National Arts Festival in Grahams­town in 2002, before enjoying a highly successful season at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg.

Focusing on the indentured workers from India who worked on the sugar plantations in Natal between 1860 and 1911, The Coolie Odyssey combines compassion with humour to reveal the role played by Indians and their contribution to South Africa’s rich cultural narrative, as well as ongoing issues of race relations and nation-building.

The plot unfolds as the storyteller — a monkey with memories of previous human incarnations — types up his story on an old typewriter.

His story unveils the life of Ramlall Kihari, an indentured labourer who arrived in Durban in 1864. We follow Ramlall as he searches for identity, belonging and salvation against the backdrop of those pioneering colonial times.

The cast includes Renaldo Abraham Moodley, Nhlakanipho Manqele, Vishendra Singh, Yateen Dayaram, Thiru Naidoo, Avershree Maistry, as well as musicians led by Mumbai sufi singing star, Anuraag Dounidyal.

Booking is through Computicket.

— Arts Editor.

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