Friday, July 26, 2013

Play Review: Asinamali!

*Black Humour: “humour that deals with unpleasant aspects of life in a bitter or ironic way”

Thanks to the Market Theatre for the Pic
Oh what a show! Set in a South African prison during Apartheid; five prisoners tell us how they ended up behind bars. One man stutters, another believes that he was falsely accused, another was back-stabbed by a cousin, another idolized a con man and another had an affair with his employer's wife.

While watching the multi-awards winning South African classic play, Asinamali, I experienced a bitter/sweet moment. The sweet was all the laughing I was doing; the bitter was the fact that Apartheid was a dehumanising cruel system.

Thanks to the Market Theatre for the Pic
Written by the legendary Mbongeni Ngema, Asinamali was inspired by the 1983 rent strike in Lamontville Township, KwaZulu-Natal. Led by activist Msizi Dube the people of Lamontville wanted the government to know “we do not have money” (Asinamali) when rent was increased.

As the five men tell their story the audience are taken back to a time when black men had it hard. From trying to get a work permit, proving ones innocence in court or getting a proper job. All this told in song, dance and humour.

While watching Asinamali, I wondered if the people who had experienced the injustice of that time were were able to watch the play, laugh and not find themselves feeling the pain. Laws might have changed but the memories remain.

Presently black people don’t need a permit to work anywhere in South Africa but the struggles still exist. “Everytime you see shacks – you know that only black people stay there” a line from one of my favourite poem by Masai Dabula.

Plays like Asinamali should keep coming back on our stages; to remind us about the struggle pre-democracy and to reinforce why we need to stay focused going forward.

It took courage and creativity for Ngema to highlight the struggle of black people using theatre. The original script of Asinamali doesn’t exist because Ngema didn’t want the police or their spies to get their hands on it when they came to the rehearsals. The actors were nearly assassinated for taking part in this play.

Thanks to the Market Theatre for the Pic


Each generation has a struggle. Watch Asinamali for a whole lot of laughter. Watch Asinamali to appreciate what people went through so that we can be here. Watch Asinamali for inspiration on how you can deal with your challenges using creativity, risk-taking and some humour.

Make time to watch this legendary play at the Market Theatre (until 18 August) and let’s discuss your thoughts on it.

Side Note: Read this review written in 1987 on the play that I found: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/15/theater/for-asinamali-backers-more-than-just-a-play.html


1 comment:

  1. WOW THANK YOU MY SISTER YOU JUST GAVE A CLEAR EXPLANATION OF WHAT IS ALL MOVIE ABOUT,I AM INTEREST TO WATCH THE MOVIE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

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