Woza Albert

April 19, 2019 Music

Woza Albert! Is a satirical play written by Percy Mtwa, Mbongeni Ngema and Barney Simon. The Play was written during the Apartheid era, as a form of Protest Theatre. Woza Albert looks at the lives of black South Africans and the realities of Apartheid. The play-acts as a response to Apartheid. It reflects democracy available to all and records parts of history that were otherwise silenced by the government during Apartheid. Woza Albert and its message stands against white supremacy, normal slavery as well as the oppressed and oppressors. The play gives an analysis of the society, it explores personal morals, human rights, injustice, politics, inhumanity, education and African Christianity during the apartheid era. Protest theatre is utilized to protest against and call for social transformation and a change to the Apartheid-state. Woza Albert is aimed at inciting revolt and action.  It was used as a means to criticize the whites and the way in which they were oppressing the blacks. It also calls for blacks to rise up and fight against white oppression
Woza Albert remains one of the best examples of satirical anti-apartheid South African Theatre. The piece is a worked shopped play and the production was not scripted, the actors drew on observations made to create the characters through improvisations. The improvised scenes were either selected or rejected through trial and error in order to ensure the intended message of the production could be relayed to the audience in the best way possible. The workshopping process took years of research and input from locals before this masterpiece was performed in The Market Theatre in 1981. The play used many languages, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu thus it was imperative that Woza Albert incorporated a strong physical element. Because of language barrier created the physical representation of the words made the play accessible to all on an international level.

Woza Albert is episodic meaning the scenes do not follow according to normal time and the structure is not realistic. The cast was small and versatile. The actors played many roles and the characters they depict changes in every scene to shine light on different situations and different struggles people faced due to apartheid. Political comment is combined with gestures, music, storytelling, songs and dance. Woza Albert incorporates Zulu war songs and dance. There were no fixed theatre venues at which Woza Albert would be performed however, it first opened up at the market theatre. One of the proponents of this play was a Polish director, Jerzy Grotowski who argued that despite very grand use of sets, costuming, lighting and sound, theatre is unable to compete with the special effects of film, so he proposed letting theatre go back to its simpler roots. Woza Albert incorporated grotowskis techniques and is performed on a open stage with few lights and no luxuries; showing the informality of the scenes.

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