Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No Good Friday takes off with Auditions at the Wits School of Arts

Samuel Ravengai 2014
Auditions for the Athol Fugard play, No Good Friday, kicked off Tuesday the 13th of May under the watchful eye of the director, Samuel Ravengai. It is envisaged that rehearsals will begin on 21 July 2014, the opening day of the second semester until the opening night on 23 September. Students started preparing for the auditions since Monday the 5th of May. They have auditioned for 11 roles which the director delineated as follows:

Rebecca is a black female in her early twenties. She has been living in with Willie for four years. She is a patient and hopeful lady; very adroit in conversation and comforting to friends in distress, including Willie. By the end of the story, she is sick and tired of Willie, but deeply in love. She is morally upright

Guy is a black township musician who is able to play the saxophone or pen-whistle and is extremely talented. He is a loyal friend of Willie, given to counselling him and laying off his burdens on Willie’s girlfriend, Rebecca. He is focussed on job hunting and is a man of sober habits; in his mid-twenties.

Watson is a township politician, who can be black or coloured. He is in his early thirties. He is an obscure character who leads a strong trade union, although he doesn’t seem to have a job. He believes in making sacrifices for the good of all, but has not been seen in street demonstrations. No one, including his friends, knows how he makes a living. He is always carrying a briefcase and smartly dressed.

Willie is an educated black young man in his early 30s. He is a BA correspondent, very smart and independent in thinking. This independence which inheres in him makes him seek more solitude than communal engagement. He is a hater of blackness and all that it represents. He has despaired on life, is hopeless and deflates the hope that tends to grow in others. He knows his rights and is courageous, even in the face of death.

The only white character in the play is Father Higgins who is a catholic with liberal views. For that reason he is a lover of blacks and has become a local celebrity.

Tobias can be described as rustic. He has a strong rural background. Physically, he is always blanket-clad, is ‘unsophisticated’, but intelligent in all matters relating to his rural world. He is in his late thirties.

Another interesting character is Pinkie, a Sophiatown backyard boy, who is in his early 20s. He is given to drinking and womanising. Has a quick temper which easily degenerates into hysteria. He is a volatile character, but without courage. Lily-livered boy!

Peter, another backyard character, is simple, but philosophical in some kind of way. He is a good listener, given to less talking. His concentration levels are very high.

Moses is the eldest character in the play. He is a 50 year old blind man more like Tobias. He has been living in the city for 10 years, but has a solid country background. He is an ardent listener, a family man who lives away from his family. He earns a living from begging on the pavements of Sophiatown.

Shark, in his mid-30s, is the most feared character in the play. He is a coloured/black township gangster. He is the rational side of Harry, his accomplice. He tries to moralise everything in order to appear better than Harry. An arrogant and egoistic character who cannot be pushed by anyone. He has a network of criminals that includes the police.

Harry deputises Shark and is a black/coloured who is about 20 years old. He is Shark’s accomplice and can be described as representing the impulsive and irrational side of Shark. He is a man of action and few words.

The eleventh character is a nameless thug in his 20s. He is a vicious transient character; the killing machine of the gang.

No Good Friday was first performed in Johannesburg in 1958 at what was then called the Bantu Men’s Social Centre. Athol Fugard played the character, Father Higgins, using an undercover name, Hal Lannigan, to evade police detection. He also directed it. When the play moved to a segregated theatre, Brooke Theatre, on 17 September 1958, the cast had to be all-black and Lewis Nkosi played Father Higgins. Since then, it has been performed several times. The Division of Drama of the Wits School of Arts wants to bring back this 1950s play and see how it is going to be received in the New South Africa.