Fresh from its resounding international success at the Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival in Scotland recently, winning two prestigious awards, earning five star reviews and standing ovations throughout, The Fall returns to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio for a short season from 12 to 21 September.
The dynamic cast is back to wow South African audiences in the wake of global events that remind us that decolonisation is still a relevant, vital and urgent topic all over the world.
Within the first week of the festival The Fall received the Scotsman Fringe First Award (designed to encourage performers to bring new work to Edinburgh in the spirit of adventure and experiment, and to celebrate the best new writing on the Fringe). Two days later the cast received The Edinburgh Stage acting award, beating over 200 shows which were analysed and considered. The production was also shortlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award which celebrates excellence in an Edinburgh Festival Fringe production with an inspiring human rights message.
The play received rave reviews from audiences and the media, earning four five-star reviews from The Stage, All Edinburgh Theatre, British Theatre Guide and Sunday Express.
The Stage called it a, “powerfully driven docudrama” and All Edinburgh Theatre described it as, “cohesive, convincing and compelling” and “Each individual is a frighteningly good actor … There surely cannot be a better cast at the Fringe this year”. British Theatre Guide enthused, “… continues to inspire and bring hope to people” and “brilliant performers” while Sunday Express simply said, “Highly recommended”.
In true spirit of the casts’ integrity and commitment to the work they dedicated their two awards and their performances at the festival to movements working towards undoing symbols and systems of oppression and colonisation. They made the following statement: “In light of current events in the United States of America, we the cast of The Fall, would like to dedicate both of our awards and our performances here at the Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival, to all activists and movements working towards the dismantling of systems, structures and symbols of oppression. It begins with the removal of the statues and it shall end with the removal of all systems which oppress marginalised voices; voices of womxn, voices of the LGBTQIAP+ community, voices of people of colour, voices of the differently abled. We stand firm and resolute in our call for decolonisation in our country and across the world.”
The Fall is a vital and frank collaborative piece of workshop theatre devised by the original cast. When the statue of Cecil John Rhodes was dismantled at the University of Cape Town, seven Dramas postgraduates wrote this searing, insightful play about race, class, gender, sexism, colonialism and ideologies of patriarchy. It took South Africa by storm during the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and subsequent student movements’ demonstrations in 2015 and 2016.
Seeking to unpack discrimination in all its forms, the play does not offer solutions to the questions raised by the movements which inspired it, but hopes to create and nurture dialogue.
The Fall is facilitated by Clare Stopford, curated by Ameera Conrad and Thando Mangcu (two members of the ensemble) and the vibrant cast comprises Conrad, Tankiso Mamabolo, Oarabile Ditsele, Zandlie Madliwa, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana and Cleo Raatus.
On 9 April 2015, the iconic statue of Cecil John Rhodes was, once and for all, removed from the UCT campus, the result of tenacious and brave protests from the fallist movement, who were, and still are, driven to decolonise education in South Africa. In June of the same year, the Baxter Theatre Centre presented the work Black Dog/ Injemnyama, as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of the passing of legendary writer/director Barney Simon, co-founder of the Market Theatre. A number of the cast members in Black Dog/Injemnyama were due to graduate later that year. They were also leaders of the student protest movement.
They went into development and meticulously chiselled out a complex and vital text and in October 2016 the play opened. It immediately struck a chord and caused a sensation at the Baxter, which is on the University of Cape Town campus. The play lifted a veil on the unspoken truth of so many thousands of students, their hardships, their realities; and the pain suffered by so many.
“It seemed fitting to commission a work with these fine actors – who were also brave and articulate activists – in the same docudrama style as Simon’s plays,” explains Lara Foot, CEO and artistic director of the Baxter Theatre Centre. She is also the executive producer of The Fall.
Lara continues, “At the time of commissioning this work, I knew that it would have an effect on the community of Cape Town and South Africa at large. What I was not expecting, was how relevant this play is to the international community and that it speaks to the effects of colonialism at a global level.”
Given the current climate at tertiary institutions throughout South Africa and events in the United States recently, this production could not be more relevant, topical and perfectly programmed, focusing on and highlighting burning issues that beg to be addressed. The play adds its voice to the national and worldwide debate and youth-led revolutions against injustices, inequality in education, cultural representation and many other contemporary conflicts.
The Fall returns to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio for a short season only from 12 to 21 September at 7.30pm nightly, with matinee performances at 1pm on 14, 19 and 21 September and a Saturday matinee performance on 16 September at 3pm.
Bookings can be made at Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite or Checkers outlet. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Sharon on 021 680 3962, email firstname.lastname@example.org or Carmen