Classics reimagined

Andrew Buckland and Jennie Reznek star in Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles, which will be on the planks of the Baxter Theatre next month (February).Photo: Mark Wessels
Andrew Buckland and Jennie Reznek star in Oedipus at Colonus #aftersophocles, which will be on the planks of the Baxter Theatre next month (February).Photo: Mark Wessels

Director Mark Fleishman’s Oedipus at Colonus: #aftersophocles, the first in an exciting season of tragic reimaginings, premières at the Baxter Flipside Theatre from Friday 3 to Saturday 18 February at 19:30 daily, with Saturday matinées at 14:30.

Presented by The Baxter, in collaboration with Magnet Theatre, the production forms part of the Reimagining Tragedy in Africa and the Global South research project (ReTAGS), funded by the Andrew W. Melon Foundation, in the Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town. It follows on from their huge success of Antigone (not quite/quiet), which played to great acclaim at the Rondebosch theatre in 2019.

Oedipus at Colonus: #aftersophocles is made by the same creative team that produced the ground breaking, innovative works Every year, Every day, I am walking, Rain in dead man’s footprints, Cargo and Antigone (not quite/quiet).

Here, Andrew Buckland joins Jennie Reznek (Creon) and Faniswa Yisa (Theseus) as Oedipus wanting to be buried in the land. Occupying that same space is a chorus of homeless occupiers who unwillingly become entangled in Oedipus’ story.

Played by graduates of the Magnet Theatre Full-time Training and Job Creation Programme, who make up the Magnet Theatre Youth Company, this chorus is a powerhouse of new talent. They tell their stories through the body, text and a sonic landscape that haunts.

This is a play about time, aging and dying. It was written by Sophocles at the end of his life, when he was an old man facing his own death. It is the third play in the so-called Theban cycle, the first being Oedipus Rex and the second Antigone.

However, in terms of the chronology of the Theban narrative, the action of the play precedes the action of Antigone.

It is also a play about the land and belonging to the land, or more precisely, a desperate desire to belong to the land. In this way the play, written in the 5th century BC, has immense relevance for our contemporary post-colonial, post-apartheid context in which issues of land hunger, of dispossession, of occupations and removals, continue to plague our society so many years after the advent of democracy.

It is also a play about the limits of redemption and forgiveness.

It poses a question as to whether the wrongs of the past can ever really be forgiven. Is there a possibility for penance? Is Oedipus’ tearing out of his eyes enough? V Bookings for Oedipus at Colonus: #aftersophocles can be done online through Webtickets or at Pick n Pay stores.

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