Powerful, lingering experience

2011-05-10 00:00

THE acclaimed mini-musical Happiness Through The Mist is returning to the city where it was first staged. Written and directed by Zeph Nzama, the show began life on the Hexagon stage on the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus in 2009.

Two years later — and following acclaimed runs at the Loft and Catalina theatres and the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown last year — it’s back at the same venue for a two-night run at 7.30 pm on Friday and Saturday.

A compelling mixture of infectious music, wry humour and dialogue, Happiness Through The Mist, which stars Thabane Mahlobo, Scelo Ngcobo, Muzi Mhlanga and renowned Durban muso Elias Sdumo Ngidi on guitar, celebrates the extraordinary cultural heritage of eThekwini’s historic Umkhumbane District.

Ngidi, a jazz guitarist and penny whistle player, who was born and bred in the Umkhumbane area, brings a unique perspective to the show. He replaces guitarist Madala Kunene, who had to withdraw from the show for personal reasons.

Considered to be Durban’s equivalent of Johannesburg’s Sophia Town and Cape Town’s former District Six, Umkhumbane — which was evacuated and flattened during apartheid and became known as Cato Manor — was the birth place of many legendary South African artists and is remembered as much for its colourful and vibrant community life as for the harsh realities of poverty and material deprivation they endured.

Speaking about the musical, Nzama said: “South Africa has a very interesting history. If you know about District Six, Sophia Town and Umkhumbane, you will know what I’m talking about.

“Happiness Through the Mist recounts elements of the history of Umkhumbane, portraying its music, dance and vibrant atmosphere that once existed until the forced removals of the late fifities.

“The aim of our production is to bring people together, from all walks of life and backgrounds. We want to encourage our brothers and sisters from all race groups in this country to share something of our past with us, so that we can find a common bond for the future.

“For this reason we have not dwelt on things that separate us from each other. Happiness Through the Mist is conceived as an entertaining and touching production full of humour, energy and all that makes theatre a powerful and lingering experience.”

Having been lucky enough to catch this stunning mini-musical at the Playhouse, my advice to you is to book your seats now.

Tickets are R70 (students R40) at 033 260 5537.

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