‘Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia’ at the Hex

2017-04-26 06:01
PHOTO: suppliedSecond and third-year drama and performance studies students (from left) Spumelele Gumede, Siyanda Mhlongo and Khwezi Nokwazi Mlaba from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, will stage ‘The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia’ this month.

PHOTO: suppliedSecond and third-year drama and performance studies students (from left) Spumelele Gumede, Siyanda Mhlongo and Khwezi Nokwazi Mlaba from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, will stage ‘The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia’ this month.

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INSPIRED by Bertolt Brecht’s Mahogony­ and created specifically for and by second and third-year drama and performance studies students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia is adapted for a South African audience. The play is an allegory of 20 years of South African democracy.

From 1994 to 2014 and the birth of the “fall” movements. The city of Baobabia represents expressions of freedom in the new South Africa, both morally and economically.

The year is 1994, and MaBegbick, a cadre turned gangster, is fleeing from the law. Her getaway vehicle, a truck, breaks down on the northern border in the middle of nowhere. Instead of continuing, she decides to create a new city of freedom, and she names it Baobabia, and proclaims the city centre the “As You Like it Tavern”.

Prostitutes in the big cities hear about this new city and gather in numbers knowing it will be a gold mine for their trade. Men are recruited by MaBegbisk’s henchmen, Fatty and Moses, and they leave the big cities for the promised land of Baobabia, where whiskey, women and leisure are freely available, at a price.

Jimmy Mabaso is a freedom fighter and fortune seeker who returns to South Africa in 1994 after spending his exile in the Congo, and hears about Baobabia and heads there with his comrades. Jimmy falls in love with Jenny, a prostitute and business woman. Jimmy is not satisfied with Baobabia, saying it is too free, too peaceful and too boring, so he encourages anarchy.

An approaching cyclone, which has destroyed Pretoria and other parts of the country, threatens to destroy Baobabia. Jimmy acts as the hero, a leader encouraging freedom, while MaBegbick takes advantage of the crisis introducing more draconian laws, developing a fascist front to the city of freedom.

Using song, chorus work and multi-media, The Rise and Fall of the City of Baobabia serves as a good example of Brechtian theatre.

The style is energetic, fast paced and relevant for anyone burning for change in this confusing time. William le Cordeur directs, assisted by Francis Mennigke, who has designed the sound.

The show takes place at the Hexagon Studio Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday, May 3-6 at 7.30pm.

Tickets R40 at the door. - Supplied.

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