LSM Newswire

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tshepang, Theatre La Chapelle & Maurice Podrey's Mopo Productions- Feb. 24-Mar. 7

Theatre La Chapelle presents

Maurice Podbrey & Mopo Productions'


Written and directed by Lara Foot Newton

Tuesday, February 24- Saturday, March 7, 2009

To see a powerful excerpt from Tshepang please go to:

Tshepang on YouTube

"This is Jesus' sister. We have been waiting for someone to take away the sins of the world,

just like Jesus did, but he was way too long ago. The world has forgotten." - Simon

Montreal, February 2009- Theatre La Chapelle and Maurice Podbrey's Mopo Productions are excited to finally bring this moving play to Montreal. For four years, Tshepang has toured within South Africa and internationally to six countries, to overwhelmingly enthusiastic response. Maurice Podbrey, founding Artistic Director of Centaur Theatre Company, first brought potent South African theatre to Montreal when he introduced local theatergoers to Athol Fugard.

In 2001, devastating news of the rape of a nine-month-old child drew the national and world media to a small South African town ’Äì a community cut off by poverty from its own heart. This play is motivated by that news report and twenty thousand true stories that come forth every year. The town and its characters are fictional.

In Tshepang, Ruth, the mother of baby Tshepang, has not uttered a word in three years. Simon comes forward to protect her, and from the ashes of tragedy a most unusual tale of hope and love emerges. Tshepang is a powerful story told with humour and heartbreak. Rather than finding simple answers, the play draws the viewer into the complexities and contradictions that surround these events.

For playwright/director Lara Foot Newton, it was important to bring a dishonored town to life, "It felt like the village was the rapist." She continues, "But at the same time, the whole community had been violated- by colonialism, by apartheid, by poverty. It had lost its humanity." A director of prize-winning shows, this remarkable piece draws on a South African style of story telling, combining striking visual imagery with an African sense of poetic magic realism.

Since it was first performed in South Africa in 2003, the play has touched the hearts of theatre lovers all over the globe. Maurice Podbrey is thrilled to be offering this work to Montrealers, "This is probably South Africa's most significant theatre piece of the past decade. Lara Foot Newton is, I believe, the successor to Athol Fugard as the playwright of note in a reborn South Africa." He continues, "I've waited a long time to showcase the best of our South African work and I could not be happier that it is Tshepang. I am most proud to be bringing it, at last, to Montreal and cities across Canada. The play is a courageous story of love, forgiveness and coming to terms with a devastation of huge magnitude."

Including Foot Newton, the whole team has been lauded for its work: actors Constance Didi as Ruth and Mncedisi Shebangu reprising his role as narrator and sculptor, Simon; set and costume designer Gerhard Marx, who creates a visual and evocative environment for the story; and lighting designer Wesley France. The Sundance Festival has hailed the work and in 2009 it will be made into a full-length movie, "Foot Newton and Marx have tackled a topic that is both devastating and taboo and made it compelling, visceral and deeply emotional. In addition to the textual story telling, which is subtle and authentic, the visual components of the piece are breathtakingly arresting."

"If you only see one show this year, Tshepang demands to be the one ’Ķ" - Sunday Independent (South Africa)


Maurice Podbrey and Mopo Productions

Presented by Theatre La Chapelle

3700 Rue Saint-Dominique

Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 pm

Matinee: Sunday, March 1st at 3:00 pm

Reservations: 514-843-7738 or

Tickets: 25$ regular, $20 students/seniors/professional artists

Special fundraiser with the proceeds going towards the development of a new generation of South African theatrical talent, March 3 and 4.

Tickets $150 (tax receipt issued). Please call Maurice: (514) 509-6909

Lara Foot Newton ’ÄìPlaywright and Director

Lara Foot Newton, South African theatre director, playwright and producer, is noted for her creative spirit. As one of her country's top directors, she has been recognised nationally for her hard-hitting work. Lara was the Associate Artistic Director at The Market Theatre from 1998-2001 and the Resident director and dramaturge at The Baxter Theatre from 2005-2007. To date, she has directed more than 34 productions, 23 of which have been new South African works, including a staging of Zakes Mda's novel, Ways of Dying (2000), and her own creation, Tshepang (2003), which won best new play of the year in 2003 and was published in April 2004. More recently, Foot Newton won the prestigious Rolex arts award and was mentored by Sir Peter Hall. In 2007, two of Lara's new plays were presented by The Baxter theatre: Reach and Karoo Moose. These two plays received nine Fleur du Cap nominations between them. In 2007 Lara received her MA from The University of Cape Town. Lara is a fellow of Sundance and is currently working on the film adaptation of Tshepang. Lara's new venture is the company MASAMBE. Its aim is to tour new South African works of an international standard to communities around the country and to perform in the language of the community.

Gerhard Marx- Scenography

Lara Foot Newton worked closely with Gerhard Marx, whose contribution is central to the conception of the play. Gerhard Marx is an artist, as well as a theatre and filmmaker. He has produced four solo exhibitions, and exhibits regularly with Warren Siebrits Modern and Contemporary Gallery, Johannesburg. His works are featured in numerous public and private art collections. Recent theatre productions include: They Say (written and directed by Marx) for the Aardklop National Arts Festival (Winner of the Bravo Award: "Most Memorable Moment", Aardklop Festival 2008) and REwind: A Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony (directed by Marx, an interactive film by Gerhard Marx and Maja Marx, and composed by Philip Miller). It performed in Brooklyn New York, the 62nd Centre, William College, Massachusetts (2007) and at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg (2008). Marx is a fellow of the Sundance Institute's Film Directors and Screenwriters Laboratory; of the Annenberg Film Foundation; and of the Ampersand Foundation. He lives and works in Johannesburg.

Mncedisi Shanbangu- Simon

Mncedisi trained at the Market Theatre Laboratory and attended the summer acting course at the Royal National Theatre Studio in London. His theatre career started in 1997 with Gomorrah and afterwards he appeared in a number of plays at the Market Theatre including Orpheus, Ways of Dying, Tshepang, Nongongo and Dream of the Dog amongst others. As director, he was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama in 2004. He has appeared in the movie Catch a Fire and Hijack Stories and has received several theatre awards, including the 2003 Fleur du Cap Best Actor Award for his performance in Tshepang.

Constance Didi- Ruth

Nonceba Constance Didi graduated from the New Africa Theatre Academy (NATA) in 2002 in Theatre and Performing Arts. During her year at NATA she performed in Leopard in my Suitcase, directed by Abduragmaan Adams and choreographed by Charles Maema and Nicola Visser and Good Rubbish, written by Ian Bruce and directed by Ina Bruce. After graduating she was then employed by the Academy for three years. Constance performed in the Robben Island Road Show The Island and The Applebox, written by Ian Bruce and directed by Ina Bruce, which toured the provinces. In 2006 she performed In Case You Forget, directed by Ben Snyder and That Spirit, directed by Themba Lonzi. In 2008 she performed in the physical theatre piece Icarus, choreographed by Louise Coetzer as part of the Baxter Dance Festival.

Maurice Podbrey- Producer

Former artistic director and founder of Montreal's Centaur Theatre Company, Maurice returned to South Africa in 1997 where he established Mopo Productions to support the development of performing arts, including the production and touring of important new work both within South Africa and abroad. Tshepang has toured South Africa, Europe (Amsterdam, London, Stockholm, Zurich, Geneva, Dublin, Vienna) and Australia, as well as presenting at the Rolex Awards conference in New York.

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