In a dramatic coup for the Baxter, Coetzee’s most celebrated novel will be performed as a stage play for the first time, produced by Maurice Podbrey of Mopo Productions. It features a stellar local line-up of eight actors led by Grant Swanby with Nicholas Pauling, Chuma Sopotela, Owen Manamela-Mogane, Chi Mhende, Alistair Moulton Black, Ruben Engel and Anele Situlweni. Set and costume design is by Craig Leo and the musical score is by Dmitri Marine.
Multiple award-winning director Alexandre Marine, recipient of the Distinguished Artist of Russia Award
, began his career as an actor in Moscow. He is the founding member of the Tabakov Theatre in Moscow and founding artistic director of Théâtre Deuxième Réalité in Montreal. Apart from his career as a stage actor and director, he has appeared in several Russian films.
Marine has directed over 70 productions in Moscow, Montreal, New York and Tokyo. His Montreal productions of Hamlet
, and Mary Stuart
all received production-of-the-year awards by the Quebec Critics’ association. His adaptation of Dostoevsky’s The Possessed
, entitled … the itsy bitsy spider … won a Best Production award in Baltimore’s City Paper
. In Russia he won awards for his productions of A Streetcar Named Desire
and Blue Rose
, an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie
Podbrey and Marine first met in Montreal in the early 1990s, when the Russian was directing student actors at the National Theatre School in scenes from works by Anton Chekhov. This meeting led to Marine’s directing Podbrey in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya
at the Centaur Theatre, which he founded in 1969. Soon thereafter Marine and his family moved from Moscow to Montreal and he directed three other classics at the Centaur. Later he formed his own theatre company, performing in English, French and Russian. Marine’s 28-year-old son, Dmitri, has emerged as an accomplished and widely travelled young composer and once again collaborates with his father to create the music score for the production.
Podbrey returned to South Africa 14 years ago from Canada, where he had a distinguished theatrical career and was awarded the Order of Canada. On his return he formed the Mopo Cultural Trust, which has as its mission the development of new theatrical talent and has completed well over 20 productions over the years in all parts of the country. Other works produced by Podbrey include Tshepang
(which has toured extensively and has been translated into Afrikaans and Zulu), A Plague of Heroes
, Things are Bad
, and most recently, Did We Dance: Ukutshona ko Mendi
(The Sinking of the Mendi
) which played to critical acclaim at the Baxter earlier this year.
Coetzee, who was born in Cape Town and emigrated to Australia in 2002, won the Nobel Prize for Literature
in 2003. Waiting for the Barbarians
is his third novel, which was first published in 1980 and was chosen by Penguin as one of the Great Books of the 20th
century. The title of the book is apparently taken from the poem with the same title written in 1904 by the Greek-Egyptian poet Constantine P Cavafy.
Coetzee explores this phenomenon in a story that is part mythical and part psychological. Against an abstract, timeless and placeless setting, the Magistrate (played by Grant Swanby) administers a small outpost of the Empire. He is suddenly supplanted by Colonel Jol (Nicholas Pauling) who has been sent to confront a supposed attack from the Barbarian tribes. His military occupation exploits every fear and superstition to justify his actions and the Magistrate witnesses the rapid degeneration of civil life as torture becomes commonplace. A Barbarian girl (Chuma Sopotela) is one victim and it is her fate and the Magistrate’s intervention that is the plot of this gripping drama.
However, what intrigues Coetzee is more than these all too familiar horrors. His interest is psychological - that of the Magistrate’s struggle to understand himself through his thoughts and his actions, a struggle reminiscent of those in Dostoyevsky’s great novels. Coetzee’s storytelling and Marine’s adaptation are also not without flashes of humour. Waiting for the Barbarians
carries an age restriction of 14 years. The play previews at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio on 16 and 17 August, opens on 18 August and runs until 1 September at 19:00 nightly. Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.co.za
or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate, block or schools bookings contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Alternatively contact Carmen on 021 680 3993 or email her email@example.com