Following a successful run at National Children’s Theatre in 2018, an updated interpretation of Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! directed by Matthew Counihan, is set to run for school audiences at The South African State Theatre from 25 April to 17 May 2019. My Children! My Africa! is a compulsory setwork for Grade 12 school learners studying English subject as a First Additional Language.
The play My Children! My Africa! is set in 1985 during the height of the racial divide in South Africa. Within a classroom of the black Zolile High School, a teacher called Mr M (played by Yamikani Mahaka) referees a student debate contesting that women should not receive the same education as men. In favour is Thami (Zolani Shangase), one of Mr M’s favourites and most promising students. In opposition is Isabel (Nieke Lombard), a white student visiting from a privileged all-girls school. Mr M sees potential in the intellectual pairing of Isabel and Thami. He brings them together as a team for the statewide English literature competition. As they prepare under Mr M’s tutelage, Isabel gains immense respect and admiration for Mr M and forms a deep friendship with Thami. Outside the classroom, Mr M’s hopes for Thami are challenged by their generational divide and increasing political unrest under the South African government’s policy of apartheid.
The play presents the obstacles encountered by two young people whose friendship is coloured by the racial divide and the tensions of the society that they live in and juxtaposes contradictory approaches to achieving racial equality. Fugard skilfully explores the continuous struggle between the political and the individual in the context of relationships fraught with unresolved personal conflict, frustration, and loneliness.
The director of the play and Artistic Director of National Children’s Theatre, Matthew Counihan comments; “My Children! My Africa! is a heartbreaking and powerful must-see play for every learner. It is as relevant now as it was in the 90s. Education and its quality remain a hot topic. With the pass rates constantly being lowered and students being progressed into years that they have not qualified to be in – have we really advanced? The dialogue of inequality continues, racial differences still divide us, and the nature of privilege still dominates.”
Counihan has established himself as an upcoming director, producer and a zesty creative. He also sits as a judge on the Plays and Musicals panel of the Naledi Theatre Awards.
My Children! My Africa is presented in association with the National Children’s Theatre, by arrangement with DALRO (Pty) Limited. The show’s tickets are R100 on Webtickets. For schools and group bookings, patrons can contact the theatre’s sales office on 012 392 4000 or visit the website, www.statetheatre.co.za.
The Creative Team
Produced in association with National Children’s Theatre by arrangement with DALRO (Pty) Limited
Directed by Matthew Counihan
Costume and Set Design by Sarah Roberts
Lighting Design by Jane Gosnell
Zolani Shangase as Thami Mbikwana
Nieke Lombard as Isabel Dyson
Yamikani Mahaka-Phiri as Mr M.