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South African Season at Jermyn Street Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THIS summer, Jermyn Street Theatre is presenting a five week season of theatre, featuring some of South Africa’s most acclaimed playwrights and best-loved performers.

The season, which runs from June 10 to July 12, 2014, will include major work by Athol Fugard and Reza de Wet, with performances by actors including Janet Suzman, Jack Klaff, Doreen Mantle and Basil Appollis.

To complement the season there will be a series of special workshops and events, including a full production of a newly commissioned play by Jack Klaff and readings directed by BBC Theatre Fellow at the Bush and Lyric, Roy Alexander Weise.

There will also be a live discussion chaired by Dr Cindy Lawford and featuring Audrey Brown, the presenter of Network Africa on the BBC’s World Service.

The Plays

Fever by Reza De Wet is a haunting tale of an English governess working for a Boer family in South Africa during the 1890s, and her sister Katy back home in a seaside hotel in England. When Emma dies Katy discovers her hidden diary and learns the full and terrible extent of Emma’s yearning and isolation.

A prolific writer who wrote eleven plays in fourteen years before her untimely death in 2012, Reza De Wet has won more theatre and literary awards than any other South African playwright, including the prestigious Herzog Prize (1994), the highest honour in Afrikaans literature.

Fever is directed by Anthony Biggs and designed by Victoria Johnstone, with lighting design by Charlie Lucas.

Statements After An Arrest Under The Immorality Act by Athol Fugard.

Six seconds in which men destroy something only God can give…

Two lovers lie together and talk. Frieda is a white, middle-class librarian. Philander is a married Cape Coloured man with a young family, living in the most abject conditions in one of South Africa’s thousands of shanty towns. The police enter and arrest them, and both are forced to give statements.

Written in 1964, the year Nelson Mandela began his sentence on Robben Island, and inspired by real events, Statements is a devastating story of illegal love under Apartheid.

A playwright whose work is performed and celebrated on a global scale, Athol Fugard’s plays include The Blood Knot, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and ‘Master Harold’… and the boys.

Statements is directed by Cordelia Monsey and designed by Victoria Johnstone, with lighting design by Michael Nabarro.

District 6, Our Buckingham Palace, co-authored and performed by Basil Appollis, receives its European premiere.

Whenever you bought furniture from Mr Katzen he generously threw in a print of King George VI and his Queen. They were hanging all over the District, hence the nickname: Buckingham Palace.

Acclaimed South African actor Basil Appollis celebrates the life and work of legendary writer Richard Rive and his tales of District Six – the heart of Cape Town ripped out because it stood in the way of grand apartheid fantasies.

With the Mother City being World Design Capital 2014, this play shows us how important it is to redesign our skewed historic perspectives, to reflect on the contested wasteland at the foot of Table Mountain and to put District Six centre stage where it belongs. And it’s all done with humour and style.

District 6 is directed by Sandra Temmingh. Associate Producer and Co-author is Sylvia Vollenhoven.

Written and performed by Jack Klaff, Under A Foreign Sky receives its world premiere.

Inspired by the recent special edition of the BBC’s Question Time following the death of Nelson Mandela, which highlighted the continuing division in contemporary South African society, celebrated actor Jack Klaff presents his achingly funny and deeply moving tribute to his homeland, told through forty years of letters between Jack in self-imposed exile in Europe and his mother back in Cape Town.

Jack Klaff is a South African-born actor, writer, director and academic. Klaff has held four visiting professorships at Princeton University and for four years was Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Starlab in Brussels.

Anthony Biggs directs.

Produced by Clive Chenery and Artistic Director Anthony Biggs, The South African Season continues Jermyn Street Theatre’s policy of rediscovering rarely performed plays and playwrights, and championing new writing. Biggs was appointed AD in 2013 having previously been Associate Director for three years during a period of unprecedented change for which the theatre won the Stage 100 Award for Fringe Theatre of the Year 2012 and was nominated for The Peter Brook Empty Stage Award.

For more information or to book, call the box office on 020 7287 2875 or visit

The Notorious Mrs Ebbsmith continues at Jermyn Street Theatre until May 3, 2014. It will be followed by a revised version of the Off-Broadway hit, Closer Than Ever.