We live in “interesting times”. We are not even a quarter of a century out of one oppressive regime and we’re already into another corrupt regime which is rapidly becoming oppressive as it tries to conceal its greed and corruption.
Theatre makers have always responded by producing works which satirise nasty regimes. Jefferson Bobs Tshabalala has created (written and directed) some interesting farcical protest theatre in response to the current tender-eating regime. The all male cast – Zabalaza Mchunu, Tony Miyambo, Tsietsi Morobi, Michael Mazibuko and Lereko Mfono have the audience in stitches, especially in the beginning. There is much material, most of it in English, but some in the vernacular. It is never difficult to follow the gist of what is being said even if one is language challenged, especially if one has a few words of Zulu or Sotho. One can pick up that the National Anthem is using words not in the authorised version, like “mali” (money) and that the general theme is not orthodox patriotism.
With the pending municipal elections of 2016 looming in less than a fortnight, this play has an ominous and serious message for its viewers. From overlooking “the children” stealing sugar, we have spun out of control to a vast commodities monopoly controlled by the boldest of the corrupt who look out for each other.
The work is slick, charming and clever. It is also full of political angst for a future which can only be changed by responsible voting. I wish this work could be shown to all those who should be voting for the first time, but who will simply stay home in some kind of apathetic indifference.
It really is a treat and a threat (or at least a warning).
Secret Ballot showed at the 969 Festival curated by Gita Pather at Wits Theatre. The festival runs until 24 July 2016.