The Wits School of Art, Division of Dramatic Art, is staging a student production of Athol Fugard’s No Good Friday in the Wits Downstairs Theatre (an experimental black-box venue). A South African classic, the play will be directed by Dr Samuel Ravengai, a senior lecturer within the department. No Good Friday was first performed on 30 August 1958, in the Johannesburg Bantu Men’s Social Centre by Athol Fugard with Cornelius Mabaso, Gladys Sibisi, Bloke Modisane, Preddie Ramphele, Stephen Moloi, Ken Gampu, Daniel Poho, Mike Mokone, Zakes Mokae and Sol Rachilo, most of whom became luminaries in South African theatre.
Dr Ravengai says, “Our intentions in this project are two-fold. No Good Friday of 1958 was a break-through for South African theatre because of its creativity and its multiracial nature that produced theatre leaders. Our staging of the play is undertaken with the same spirit of nurturing a group of young South Africans, in this case, Wits Drama students: training them in directing, acting and production skills so that, like their predecessors, they can lead South African theatre in the future. The second reason is to see how South Africans, notorious for our fear of the past, respond to that ugly history, narrated in a love story, in the here and now.”
The play grapples with three issues; love, dreams and murder! Rebecca is a young woman in love with Willie, who is on the verge of realising his dream of becoming a black intellectual by graduating with a BA degree. When he is about to finish his degree, he realises that all the benefits that were supposed to accrue to him were just a pipe dream. He loses his mind and his love for Rebecca. He despairs of life, questions the existence of God and the notion that education could be as important as the pursuit of freedom.
His pessimism is all pervasive as he questions the notion of “doing good” in an existence that seems not to reward goodness - maybe freedom lies elsewhere? While grappling with this dilemma, a murder is committed right on Willie’s doorstep by Shark, the local Mafia Boss whose charming exterior belies a violent nature. The protection racket run by Shark conducts its operations every Friday evening. There is no ‘happy’ Friday as Shark causes havoc by intimidating every resident into paying a ‘protection fee’. When this rule of the jungle results in the murder of Tobias, ethical and religious dilemmas emerge. Should he be reported to the police where he holds ‘shares’ or will there be merely another murder to silence the uproar? The answers to these questions lie in the production of No Good Friday.
The director, Samuel Ravengai, joined the Wits School of Art in January 2014 after ten years of lecturing and directing for theatre and television in Zimbabwe. He is a University of Cape Town graduate where he completed his MA in Directing with distinction in 2002 and his PhD in Theatre and Performance in 2012. While at UCT he wrote and directed On the Brink and the much acclaimed Trauma Centre. He is also a performer and played Philemon in Can Themba’s The Suit which won the Marta best production award at the Setkani/Encounter Festival in Brno, the Czech Republic in 2001. He has directed productions that participated at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Within the Wits division of Dramatic Art, he teaches across a range of theory and practical courses covering directing, acting, writing, drama and film. No Good Friday marks his theatre debut in Johannesburg.
Free parking is available in Senate House; the entrance is on Jorissen Street, Braamfontein
PRODUCTION: No Good Friday, written by Athol Fugard and directed by Samuel Ravengai
VENUE: Wits Downstairs Theatre, East Campus, Braamfontein
SEASON: Tuesday 23 – Tuesday 1 October 2014: Tue 23 Sep @ 19:30 (Opening), Wed 24 Sep (public holiday, no performance); Thursday 25 September [WitsTix] @ 19:30, Fri 26 Sep @ 19.30, Sat 27 Sep @ 14:00 & 19:00, Tue 30 Sep @ 19:30 Wednesday 1 October @ 19:30.
RUNNING TIME: Sixty minutes no interval.
Full price online = R 45:00; discounts for pensioners and students online = R 30:00
Full price at the door = R 50:00; discounts for pensioners and students at the door = R 40:00
WitsTix = R 10:00 online and R 15:00 at the door:
ENQUIRIES: 011 717 1376 / Catherine.Pisanti@wits.ac.za
For updates please visit www.wits.ac.za/witstheatre
Released on behalf of Wits Theatre by: Cathy Pisanti