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Blood, Scars and Springs

Posted on 15/10/2014
By Commonwealth Foundation

Brothers in Blood, a play by South African playwright and cultural activist Mike van Graan, was given a script-in-hand reading at Stratford Circus theatre last night as part of The Afrovibes Festival.
In this blog, and with one of his works selected for the Festival as a full production, Van Graan (the Associate Playwright of Artscape, one of South Africa’s six publicly-funded theatres) gives us a taste of his work.

Mike Van Graan
Amy Bonsall (Director) and Mike van Graan (Playwright) at The Afrovibes Festival, London

Brothers in Blood

“How much must you lose before you do something? How much must happen before it’s enough?”
Fadiel Suleiman in 'Brothers in Blood'

School principal Abubaker Abrahams and his daughter Leila; Brian Cohen, a doctor who works in a “coloured” township on the fringes of Cape Town; Fadiel Suleiman a refugee from Somalia and Reverend Lionel Fredericks, a lay preacher, share one concern: to protect and defend those dearest to them.
Set in 1990s Cape Town and located in the evergreen context of religious tension between these Jewish, Muslim and Christian characters, prejudice is a universal theme. Tensions in the city, caused by People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD), an anti-crime community activist group which was seen to be led by militant Muslims, provides the backdrop.

Rainbow Scars

"This year marks the twentieth year of South Africa’s nascent democracy, and there is much interest in what South African contemporary performing arts are reflecting."
Mike van Graan

In April 1994, the “Rainbow Nation” is born with the presidency of Nelson Mandela heralding a period of inter-racial healing. In Rainbow Scars, family is a metaphor for the post-apartheid “Rainbow Nation”. In this national spirit of reconciliation, Ellen Robinson, a white suburban mom, adopts Lindiwe Maputhi, a “born-free” black orphan who loses her parents in the “New South Africa”.
Fast forward to 2014, and it is Lindiwe’s final year in high school. Her estranged cousin, Sicelo, whom she has last seen 14 years ago, re-enters her life. Not only does this confrontation challenge the relationship between mother and daughter and raise questions about identity, it brings to light the scars of a country struggling to heal.

Elusive Spring

The title of the play refers to “spring” as in the Prague Spring and the Arab Spring. “Elusive” references the moments of optimism in various African societies that are somehow compromised a short while later. The play is also part-inspired by the book It’s Our Turn To Eat by Michaela Wrong, a real-life account about the central character, John Githongo, who was appointed by the Kenyan government to root out corruption only to encounter a myriad of obstacles. Essentially the play is a political thriller, set in an anonymous African country that, while a constitutional democracy, is struggling with democracy’s imperatives.
Mike van Graan

There are still tickets available for tonight’s performance of Elusive Spring at Stratford Circus.

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