The iconic apartheid-era play, The Island, has been brought back to life.
This time around, the 1960s and much sought-after play, is directed by legendary actor and scriptwriter, Dr Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha. It will debut at the annual Vrystaat Arts Festival in Bloemfontein in July.
The Island was written in the 1960s by respected artists Athol Fugard, Dr John Kani and the late Winston Ntshona.
This apartheid-era drama was inspired by a true story. It is set in an unnamed prison based on South Africa’s notorious Robben Island.
The Island takes theatre enthusiasts down memory lane.
“I’m giving you a fresh perspective, a fresh taste of this production and so I thought let me do it with women. Two, let me do it with Free State women. Three, let these women speak their languages; Afrikaans and Sesotho in such a way that is palatable,” says Mofokeng.
Performers are also holding nothing back. After all, it’s a story about the hardships which political prisoners endured while incarcerated.
“My character is a very stubborn character. The reason he’s now in jail is because he’s burnt his pass book in front of a police station and now he’s sentenced for life and he’s still on that whole thing of wanting to fight for freedom,” says actress Jane Mpholo.
“So, it’s just about this journey between these two male characters and all the emotions; the jealous, the love, the fun, the sad moments in this one cell because they’ve been together for three years,” says actress Michelle Joubert.
Director Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha is a world-renowned TV and theatre actor.
He’s armed with a Master’s Degree in Theatre Directing from Columbia University in the US.
He’s now being conferred with an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree by the University of the Free State.
“So, when I thought, okay, these people want to make me a doctor… Oh, what can i do? It has to be unique and I thought I want to do ‘The Island’, but differently,” says Mofokeng.
The Island will soon tour various African countries.
The first stop will be Zimbabwe.