Nongogo a powerful, captivating production

With Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver playing to excellent houses in the Mannie Mannim, the Market Theatre will close its Athol @86 celebration of Fugard as a respected living contemporary dramatists with a season of Nongogo.

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Peter Mashigo makes his long-awaited return to the Market Theatre as Blackie. Photo by Brett Rubin.

Nongogo is a powerful and informed classic that is a dramatic portrait of black people living in the townships and is directed by James Ngcobo.

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It is set in a shebeen outside of Johannesburg in the 1950s vibrant yet turbulent time in the history of the country.

Vusi Kunene plays Sam, a tough, business-like, jealous man who, in the end, is nothing more than the pimp he used to be. Photo by Brett Rubin.

The play, one of Fugard’s earliest works, tells the tale of displaced township individuals who are gripped by a futile longing to belong and be loved.

In every shebeen you’ll find the broken characters of life, the displaced, the hopeless and the loveless trying to find solace.

Nongogo is a captivating piece rife with unfulfilled hopes and ambitions, friendship and dependence, secrets and jealousy.

Vusi Kunene and Zikhona Sodlaka. Photo by Brett Rubin.

Even though the characters all carry heavy burdens, the tone throughout the show is light-hearted making it a highly entertaining piece of quality theatre with thought-provoking ideas seeping through rather than imposing to the audience.

Zikhona Sodlaka will debut at the Market Theatre as Queenie, a woman of strength, determination and courage as she dreams of a better life and has a past that’s riddled with secrets.

Peter Mashigo (Blackie), Bongani Gumede (Patrick), Vusi Kunene (Sam) and Zenzo Ngqobe (Johnny). Photo by Brett Rubin.

Johnny, played by Zenzo Ngqobe, is an imaginative businessman who is on the verge of cracking his big entrepreneurial break and he develops a relationship with Queenie.

Making his big theatre comeback is Vusi Kunene playing Sam, a tough, business-like, jealous man who, in the end, is nothing more than the pimp he used to be.

Peter Mashigo also makes his long-awaited return to the Market Theatre as Blackie, the deformed man whose love for Queenie clouds his view of life.

Bongani Gumede, alumni of the Market Theatre Laboratory, portrays Patrick’s character, a pathetic drunkard whose wife is giving birth to his sixth child and he is so indecisive that the only thing he can do is worry about the name he will give to his new son.

The adroit hand of director James Ngcobo has woven a very textured piece that’s jovial yet deep, as events of the past prevent this collection of characters from achieving any brighter outcome in the future.

Nongogo takes to the stage from June 15 to July 15 at The Mannie Manim Theatre. Shows are from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8.15pm and at 3.15pm on Sundays.

To book, contact Anthony Ezeoke on 011 832 1641 Extension 203 or Yusrah Bardien on 011 832 1641 Ext 204.

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