Local flavour for ‘Man of La Mancha’

2010-02-04 00:00

DALE Wasserman’s Man of La ­Mancha is being staged by ­TheatreBIZ at the Catalina Theatre at Wilson’s Wharf, Durban, from today until March 7.

Written in the middle of the turbulent sixties (one year before Hair), the play explores the price paid for the loss of freedom of speech and freedom of religion, two fundamental rights being threatened every day by governments and institutions throughout Africa.

It’s also about the destructive power of religious absolutism, about throwing people in jail for dissent, about violence against women, and about people standing up for themselves and refusing to be silenced — just like those who took part in the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, the gay rights and women’s rights movements of the seventies, and the Aids movement of the eighties.

In addition, the play explores the roles of audience and actor, the power of the imagination, and the usually passive nature of modern audiences in an age of increasingly mind-numbing mainstream entertainment.

Wasserman’s script used the classic novel Don Quixote as a jumping- off place, as it originally told the story of Don Quixote’s author, Miguel de Cervantes, and his courage in standing up to the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

For this new production, Theatre­BIZ has set the musical in a new ­context where criminals and a few ­riotous students, arrested after ­mayhem at the Ballito “rage”, are held together in the overcrowded back yard of the Ballito Police Station.

As they sit waiting to be called for processing and interrogation, they tell other prisoners the tale of the mad knight, Don Quixote, fighting for justice, purity, freedom and, above all, love.

Man of La Mancha, which has the added attraction of a rich, Spanish-flavoured score by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion, is directed by Themi ­Venturas and has an ensemble cast led by Cobus Venter (Freddie Einsford-Hill in My Fair Lady) as Don Quixote and Liam Magner (of Neon Anthems and Spit Monkey fame) as his sidekick, Sancho.

The show previews from February 4 and opens officially on February 10. Showtimes are 8 pm Thursday to Saturday, 5 pm on Saturday and 2 pm, and 6 pm on Sunday.

To book, phone Thandeka at 031 305 6889.

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