UK Arts International in association with The South African State Theatre and Traverse Theatre Edinburgh with Theatre Royal Stratford East present The Lion’s Den’s production of Township Stories.
Township Stories is a powerful story where street gangs, rape and murder are just some of the threads running through this electrifying slice of contemporary South African life. The story follows the fate of a schoolgirl who flees her home after a lifetime of squabbling and arguing with her mother- only to find solace in the arms of a gangster. Elsewhere, a father and son’s (Zenzo Ngqobe) family relationship begins to collapse with the son embarking on an affair with a woman who runs an illegal drinking house. Living in the township is tough – it’s a struggle just to stay alive and to make matters worse-there’s now a serial killer on the loose!
Township Stories explores life in a post apartheid South African township with an honest and heartbreaking insight as stories and characters become increasingly interconnected. It highlights the desperate living conditions which still exist in an environment stricken by poverty and deprivation, where gun-crime is all too commonplace.
But although Township Stories is specifically about life in modern day South Africa, it is essentially about the moral breakdown of a community of ordinary people – which could happen anywhere.
And as cruel stories unfold on stage, soulful music from Louis Armstrong, Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, Norah Jones and traditional South African Kwaito music interweave with the action to provide a sensitive, ironic and poignant backdrop.
Paul Grootboom, who directed as well as co-wrote the production, is one of South Africa’s hottest young playwrights and has been credited with revolutionising theatre in his homeland. His first play Cards was a sell-out success at the world-famous Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Talking of his experiences of growing up in the townships he says,
“It was a mixture of good and bad, but mostly bad. And although I am happy to have those experiences, it is a life I never would want to live through again.”
Township Stories has already enjoyed huge acclaim in the UK and South Africa, having played at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town and the State Theatre in Pretoria, and was also selected to be part of the 2006 Vienna Festival.
Jan Ryan, Director of UK Arts International and International Producer of TRSE, whose most recent production The Harder They Come (co-produced with TRSE) was a sell-out critical success, says:
“Paul Grootboom is one of the most significant voices in current South African theatre. His work is edgy, dangerous and controversial. Few writers have his courage – I believe UK audiences will be deeply affected by the pictures he paints”.
This play contains graphic scenes of sex and violence – recommended age 18 plus.
“stunning…frantic…I urge you to see it” Veronica Lee, Evening Standard****
“…one of the most remarkable pieces of theatre to emerge from post-apartheid South Africa” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian ****