World-renowned playwright, director and producer, Lara Foot, was named the 2016 Featured Artist at the 43rd National Arts Festival, leading the charge on the Main programme, 80% of which is made up of work written, directed, curated or headlined by women. As the Featured Artist, she staged three productions – the world premiere of her latest play The Inconvenience of Wings and restaging two of her previous multi-award-winning works, Karoo Moose and Tshepang: The Third Testament.
Based on the true story that rocked the nation and shocked the world, Foot’s critically acclaimed Tshepang: The Third Testament stars the original cast. Mncedisi Shabangu reprises his role as narrator and sculptor Simon, and Nonceba Constance Didi plays Ruth, in this haunting and uplifting masterpiece of redemption. Shabangu, renowned for his unique style of physical theatre, received the 2003 Fleur du Cap Best Actor award for his performance.
While the content of the play is influenced or motivated by factual evidence, the story is purely fictional, weaving together 20 000 stories – the number of reported child rapes in South Africa per year. Tshepang: The Third Testament is ultimately a story of love, forgiveness and coming to terms with a devastation of this magnitude.
Foot responded to the desperate situation by starting to write the play in 2002, based on extensive research from media articles and related material and a deeper investigation into both the physical and socio-economic landscape where events such as these occur. Rather than pointing fingers and finding unsubstantiated answers, the play draws the viewer into the complexities and contradictions that surround these events.
She explains, ‘While searching for meaning in the incomprehensible brutality of this heinous and senseless act of brutality, I wanted the play to bring insight to the audience and, perhaps, in its small way, even offer some sort of healing as well.’
The play has garnered several awards and accolades and has been translated into Zulu, Afrikaans and Croatian. It has been published in English and Zulu and has been performed in prisons and rural settlements throughout South Africa.
Tshepang: The Third Testament became an international success as it presented a rare and necessary foray into a world that few have seen before. It draws on a South African style of storytelling, combining striking visual imagery with an African sense of magic realism while cleverly and sensitively layering the story with complex psychological and personal issues. Although the topic may be brutal, the way it is handled is sensitive, even poetic, earning the production praise from audiences and critics around the globe.
The production has played in New York, London, Brisbane, Stockholm and Amsterdam, and toured Germany and Switzerland. The Stage in London described it as a ‘searing and compassionate, powerfully acted play… a committed act of remembrance’, while the South African Sunday Independent encouraged, ‘If you only see one show this year, Tshepang: The Third Testament demands to be the one… superbly written and performed’, and What’s On, London, said ‘Deeply moving’.
A literary expert best described it as ‘a play rich with meanings and subtexts,’ and said, ‘Although an infamous incident in South African society is highlighted in this play, it is done in such a manner that it does have universal effect and resonance.’
The simplicity and symbolism of Gerhard Marx’s award-winning scenography and design create a visual and evocative backdrop for the story.
Tshepang: The Third Testament will have a season run at The Joburg Theatre, Fringe Theatre from 16 to 28 October 2018. To secure your tickets now before they sell out, you can call 0861 670 670, go online at www.joburgtheatre.com or book in person at the Joburg Theatre box office. Theatre patrons can also book online and pay at selected Pick N Pay stores.
For discounts and school group bookings, contact Joburg Theatre ticketing office: Happiness Mnyandu 011 877 6853 firstname.lastname@example.org or Tlhopiso Sera 011 877 6817 email@example.com
Tshepang: The Third Testament
Written and directed by Lara Foot
Narrator and sculptor, Simon: Mncedisi Shabangu
Ruth: Nonceba Constance Didi
Scenography: Gerhard Marx
Lighting design: Wesley France
Duration: 80 minutes, no interval
Age restriction: PG 15