Theater students to present play about South African apartheid

By Megan Ruge Asst. living and arts editor

On Friday, Sept. 30, the theater department and its students will perform “Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” in the Degenstein Campus Center blackbox theater.

“Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” is a show that occurs during South Africa’s time under the apartheid government. The production shows this time through the lenses of three characters, all involved in the story of a man who loses everything and must find out what it means to be himself without everything he has used to define himself.

The show will consist of an atmosphere that the audience may not be used to. It is important for the audience to know the nature of the show.

“This show heavily draws from the African tradition of storytelling. We want them to get an overall idea of apartheid, but also the personal stories of these people,” junior Marquise Richards said.

“Sizwe Bansi” is a play that is specifically designed to challenge a viewer’s comfort zone and generate thought provoking questions. The production is meant to bring forward a lot of ideas to the audience that they may not quite understand.

“I believe that people will leave the theater with a spectrum of questions, but I hope that the most important question that they leave the theater with is ‘whose ghost am I living as?’” said senior Rob Barkley, the show’s director.

Audience participation and thought provoking situations will present themselves during the performance and audiences should expect their involvement to be a possibility.

“This show is unorthodox and will involve audience participation. If anyone is uncomfortable with any audience interaction, please inform the ushers and we will accommodate you,” Barkley said.

After the show there will be a talk-back in which the audience is encouraged to discuss the show with the cast. Barkley said all are encouraged to stay and respond or ask questions.

“I hope the audiences will begin to have a conversation about an event that took place in South Africa, but it has transcended for both American culture and South African culture. This idea of oppressing black bodies and trying to find their own identity. This play will touch heavily on drawing parallels to race relations in both places,” said Richards.

The show is one cast and crew believe will be very captivating, leaving the audience to ponder while remaining completely immersed.

“I think most people will be drawn into the storytelling and the unique form of theater that this show will provide, and I believe that the relevance is extremely important. It is an extremely timely show,” Richards said.

The show will be informative on events in South Africa and will represent themes that will challenge the thought process of people in the audience.

“I hope that the audience will take away that there is more to being who we are than just a photo and a name,” Barkley said.

The show will be performed Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. The final showing will occur on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are free for all but are limited.

They are available at the box office in Degenstien Campus Center.

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