Itsoseng, written and performed by Omphile Molusi, deftly balances comedy and tragedy in the story of a young man, his love for his childhood sweetheart and his yearning for change amid the politics of township life during and following apartheid in South Africa. We who are naïve enough to think that the end of apartheid’s legalized oppression would bring with it harmony and understanding, learned differently as we sat in CST’s Upstairs Theater.
Istoseng, the name of Molusi's South African township, still awaits the "miracle" of the new democracy of 1994. With the stunning power of his frenetic desperation, Molusi chronicles his generation’s disappointment and his township’s impotence to avail itself of the changes.
In his heartfelt, heart-rending story of devotion to the girl he loves amidst an Itsoseng's static, unchanging political climate, he portrays multiple desperate characters.
Running, jumping, laughing, singing from comedy to tragedy in his intensely emotional performance, he captures the horrifying reality of post-apartheid South Africa. Yes. Post-apartheid. Yes. Post-Nelson Mandela.
CST’s production of Itsoseng is 75 minutes without intermission of watching a man nearly driven mad by the destitution he and his entire township face while there is change all around them. I strongly recommend the in-depth enrichment information CST provides at http://www.chicagoshakes.com/main.taf?p=2,53 for a deeper understanding of the dilemma Molusi and his township face. Itsoseng, it seems, means “Wake yourselves up.”
Itsoseng premiered at the University of Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre under the direction of Tina Johnson, was performed at South Africa’s Market Theatre, and enjoyed sell-out runs at two venues in its U.K. debut in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe before transferring to a critically acclaimed engagement at London’s Soho Theater.
About the Playwright/Actor
Omphile Molusi is recognized as one of the most exciting and important young voices and acting talents working in South African Theatre. Molusi graduated from Johannesburg’s esteemed Market Theatre Laboratory in 2004. He was honored with the Royal Shakespeare Company/Baxter Theatre’s first-ever Brett Goldin Bursary, which allowed him to spend a month working and training with the RSC. He has published several plays, including The Sweet Door, Ijo! Pozeng, Itsoseng and For the Right Reasons.
His performance credits in the UK and South Africa include: Itsoseng, Romeo and Juliet, The Mirror, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Much Ado About Nothing, Echoes, Blurring Shine, Julius Caesar, Love of Vultures, Angel in a Blue Dress, Kasiology and Sharpeville.
About CST’s World’s Stage Series
CST has brought to its stages 26 international productions and has shared its own American brand of Shakespeare performance with the world. For Chicago audiences, the World’s Stage Series is a passport to experiencing exceptional international work at home, on the stages of Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.
International programming at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is supported, in part, by the Julius Frankel Foundation. Programming in the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare is made possible through generous support from Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Performances of Itsoseng are scheduled June 9 through 20, 2010 Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Tickets are $28–38 and may be purchased by visiting the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com, or by calling the Theater’s Box Office at (312) 595-5600.
Photos: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Architecture Foundation