Bafana Republic 3, Shoots and scores!

Posted: June 16, 2009 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews
Tags: ,

The slaughtering of sacred cows and other white elephants.

 

Bafana Republic 3, Penalty Shootout.

Director:  Mandla Mbothwe

Review:  Astrid Stark

First published in the Sunday Independent, 14 June’09

Lungi Pinda as Miss South Africa 2010 in Bafana Republic 3

Lungi Pinda as Miss South Africa 2010 in Bafana Republic 3

 

Imagine in this day and age a dog that barks only at black people; especially Zimbabweans.  The distraught owner in an attempt to acclimatise the beast, feeds it Kentucky Fried Chicken bones, and takes it to a dog psychiatrist for evaluation. This is just one of the many controversial characters in playwright, Mike van Graan’s Bafana Republic 3:  Penalty Shootout which has just opened at the Baxter.  

Mike van Graan, who is celebrated for not backing away from contentious issues, has written another cracker of a satirical show in his series of the Bafana Republic shows of which the inaugural performance took place three years ago at the Franschhoek Litfest.  The concept behind the series of one-person shows is the almost pathological frenzy with which we South Africans embraced the announcement of our hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, our team’s poor performances, and all the other controversies surrounding the planning and organisation of this momentous event. 

Part of van Graan’s end plan is to provide opportunities for young performers and directors, and every year a new director and actor is chosen for his satire.  This year an audience consisting of Mike van Graan’s theatre club members voted for their favourite performers and actor Lungi Pinda was selected.  

Pinda who graduated from UCT Drama Department in 2007 is brilliant as he deftly flicks from one character to another.  He squeals and squirms as the newly crowned Miss South Africa 2010 who is clearly manipulated by the FIFA coordinators, and he does a funny and very chilling impersonation of Julius ‘seize-her’ Malema.  For Pinda, Shakespeare seems to almost bubble effortlessly from within. His performance is very intense and totally captivating.  It is so exciting to see a new talent literally unfolding in front of you eyes, and he is certain to have a brilliant career if this is a taste of what’s to come.

During the evening a number of holy cows are cleverly and happily slaughtered along the way.   In a skit as a fanatical preacher he urges his congregation to open their hearts and wallets for the FIFA World Cup as it is the answer to all their ailments, with sports being proffered as ‘the new opium of the masses’.  As a sport reporter he is commentating on a taxi road race, ‘happening at a main road near you’, and he draws on an incident during which a woman was paraded naked, for wearing a miniskirt, which had the female audience members growling and hissing in disapproval.  

The stage becomes a football pitch of controversy set against a backdrop of Zapiro’s political commentary cartoons which are reflected on a large screen.  We are at a time in our country where issues of censorship are continuously making headlines.  The SABC has again pulled the plug on Zapiro’s satire, Z-news, and the cartoonist, like van Graan, does not back away from scathing satire even though he has a potential multimillion rand lawsuit hanging around his neck.   With the public broadcaster’s apparent self-censorship it will be interesting to see how the role of the internet and the stage will be explored by social and political commentators, artists and performers.

After the first screening of Bafana Republic 3 at the recent Franschhoek Litfest, van Graan urged theatre goers to fill out questionnaires on each skit. The show has since been further developed and it is incredible how, with a little change of direction and shifting around a skit or two, the show is now perfectly polished and highly entertaining.  The show is directed by Mandla Mbothwe who has won numerous awards and is currently a drama lecturer and researcher at the University of Cape Town.

Bafana Republic 1 and 2 won the South African Comedy Award for Best One-Person show in 2007 and 2008.  The third installation runs at the Baxter Theatre until 27 June before moving to the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.  Van Graan’s energy is admirable; he has three performances running simultaneously across the country.    Iago’s Last Dance, which is directed by Lara Bye is premiering at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival as part of the main programme, and Brothers in Blood premiered in May at the Market Theatre and will run there until the first week of July.

 

 

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