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From South Africa’s Market Theatre, Sizwe Banzi is Dead Starts February 25 at Syracuse Stage

“A joyous hymn to human nature.”—THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Hypnotic… Powerful.”—BLOOMBERG

(Syracuse, NY)—From South Africa’s acclaimed Market Theatre, the intensely funny and poignant Sizwe Banzi is Dead starts February 25 at Syracuse Stage. In this award-winning classic about the universal struggle for human dignity, a black man in apartheid-era South Africa tries to overcome oppressive work regulations to support his family. Co-creator John Kani performed in the original production and won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Actor. Now, 40 years later, Kani directs his son, Atandwa Kani, in this new international production.

Sizwe Banzi is Dead performs Feb. 25 – March 15 in the Archbold Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/Drama Complex, 820 East Genesee Street. Discounted preview performances are Feb. 25 and 26. The Opening Night performance is Friday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets and info are available at www.syracusestage.org, by phone at 315-443-3275, and in person at the Syracuse Stage Box Office, Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm. Ticket discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at 315-443-9844. Discounts are also available for seniors, students, and U.S. military personnel and veterans. Sign interpretation, open captioning, and audio description services are available for select performances. This show is recommended for ages 12 and up.

The Syracuse Stage production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead is co-produced with two acclaimed theatre companies: The Market Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, and McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. After performing in December to sold-out houses in South Africa, the work moved to McCarter in January where it was praised as “extraordinary” (BroadwayWorld.com), with performances that “make this penetrating play all the more compelling” (The New York Times).

Directing the Syracuse Stage production is John Kani, known as the “Grandfather of South African Theatre.” Kani is one of the creators of Sizwe along with fellow actor Winston Ntshona and Athol Fugard, one of the worlds most revered playwrights. Kani and Ntshona performed the play in South Africa, England, and on Broadway, where they won joint Tony Awards for Best Actor.

Adding to the significance of the Syracuse production, John Kani is directing his son, actor Atandwa Kani, who will perform the roles made famous by his father. Atandwa Kani will be joined on stage by fellow South African actor Mncedisi Shabangu.

Sizwe Banzi is Dead was devised in 1972 as what became known as “protest theatre.” The work was constructed to speak out against the apartheid system in South Africa, by examining the life of one man struggling to adhere to the Pass Laws. Pass Laws dictated that all black people over the age of 16 carry at all times a government issued identification called a pass book, which indicated where an individual could live and work (StageView).

Sizwe Banzi became a statement that articulated the anger of black people against these laws,” said John Kani. “It’s about the universal struggle of identity, of the dignity of the human being, and respect for humanity.”

Kani felt this firsthand as some people in South Africa did not approve of Sizwe. While working on this play and others, he was often detained by police. Once, shortly after winning the Tony Award, Kani and Winston Ntshona were arrested and placed into solitary confinement. The arrests sparked outrage from artists around the world and they were eventually freed. However, years later in 1985, Kani was stabbed by police and only narrowly escaped with his life (Program Book).

After the death of Nelson Mandela in December of 2013, Stage’s Producing Artistic Director Timothy Bond reached out to John Kani about directing a revival of Sizwe. The arrival of this production in Syracuse marks a continuation of Stage’s partnership with South African theatres that began with The Brothers Size, which transferred to the Market and Baxter Theatres in 2012.

See gallery below for photos of Syracuse Stage’s production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead (“Click” on image to enlarge)

RACE.PLACE.BEING – COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP

race_place_being_small

A collaboration of ArtRage Gallery, SUNY Oswego and its Metro Center, and Syracuse Stage, race.place.being will key on the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, the aftermath of apartheid and recent searing national events in order to frame a community-wide series of arts presentations and conversations about race and identity. For more information on performances, exhibitions, film screenings, and more, visit here.

 

LOBBY EXHIBITS

Banners featuring photography by Matt Herron

Banners featuring photography of the Civil Rights Movement will be on display at ArtRage, at SUNY Oswego and its Metro Center, and in the Syracuse Stage lobby. The exhibit features images of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and others, from the Selma to Montgomery series by photographer Matt Herron. On loan from the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, AL. Generously provided by ArtRage Gallery.

 

Photography by Mike Greenlar

Syracuse photojournalist Mike Greenlar was in South Africa on July 20, 1985, for the funeral of four activists slain by the South African police. Matthew Goniwe, Sparrow Mkhonto, Fort Calata, and Sicelo Mhlauli were abducted on their way home from an anti-apartheid meeting in Port Elizabeth. This was the largest such gathering since that of Black Consciousness founder Stephen Biko. Generously provided by SUNY Oswego Metro Center.

 

SPECIAL EVENTS – FREE FOR TICKET HOLDERS

 

Feb. 27                 Opening Night Party

Mingle with the cast after the show! Enjoy live music by Justo Triana, classical guitarist with Cuban and Brazilian inspired rhythms. Free food will be provided by Liberty Deli.

March 1               Prologue at 1 p.m.

An intimate, 20-minute pre-show discussion with theatre artists. Bring your questions!

March 4               Wednesday @ 1 Lecture

Lecture at 1 p.m. in the Sutton Pavilion, before the 2 p.m. matinee.

Featuring Grant Farred on “Once more, ‘Sizwe Banzi’: Relevance of Apartheid Theatre in a Post-Apartheid Era.” Farred is a professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University. His books include “Midfielder’s Moment: Coloured Literature and Culture in Contemporary South Africa,” “What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals,” “Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA,” and “Long Distance Love: A Passion for Football.”

March 5               Happy Hour / Slam Poetry Night

Half-priced drinks and free food from Liberty Deli from 6 – 7:30 p.m., and a slam poetry performance by Underground Poetry Spot.

March 7               Prologue at 2 p.m.

An intimate, 20-minute pre-show discussion with theatre artists. Bring your questions!

March 8               Actor Talkback

Actor Q&A following the 7 p.m. show.

March 12            Prologue at 6:30 p.m.

An intimate, 20-minute pre-show discussion with theatre artists. Bring your questions!

The Presenting Sponsor for Sizwe Banzi is Dead is the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. The sponsor is Chase Bank. The Media Sponsors are Urban CNY and WRVO Public Media. The 2014/15 Season Sponsor is Syracuse Media Group.

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Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

Van B. Robinson Common Council Chambers Weekly Schedule March 4th – March 8th, 2024

Syracuse City Hall 233 E Washington St,, Syracuse, NY, United States

Monday, March 4th 6:00 p.m. City Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, March 5th 11:00 a.m. Finance, Taxation & Assessment Committee Meeting Re: Tax Exemption Agreement with Maria Regina Housing Development Fund Corporation […]

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