Last term, I worked as part of the Production Team for an Afrikaans play put on by my university (Rhodes)’s Drama Department. I was in charge of Stage Properties, as well as trying to understand what the heck a melkberktjkiesomething is, seeing as I only speak five words of Afrikaans (literally).
The play was entered into a scriptwriting competition, which it won along with several other scripts, and thus my Department was asked to stage it at the annual Absa KKNK Festival here in South Africa.
KKNK stands for Culture something something National something. I really don’t know how to spell it.
I spent a considerable amount of time last term shopping for stage blood, cooking it on my digs stove, hunting down guns, lighters, bandages and kartontassies, amongst about another 150 props. It was so interesting, and challenging, and has definitely motivated me to never a stage a play that requires more than a carboard box, but it was worth it.
At the KKNK, Die Bannelinge (The Exiles) won the 2009 Sanlam Prize for Afrikaans Theatre (SPAT), with the play itself gaining a hefty amount of moola for Rhodes, and one of the cast members also winning Best Actor. We also won Best Director and Best Writer. Pretty much, we claimed all the major prizes 😀
The play deals with the story of Oedipus but in a South African context. The names are adapted to suit the inhabitants of an Afrikaans farm during Apartheid, so that Antigone becomes Ani, Jocasta is Jo, and Oedipus is called “Mnr O.” Land lust, incest, bloodshed and racism are all part of the daily lives of these “exiles.” The pace is relentless and the actors completely dedicated to the plot and their character’s passions.
And even though I’ve watched the play five times, they made me hold my breath each time.