‘Woza Albert!’ brought to life at PE Opera House

Simphiwe Mzimba, left, and Sinakho Calata will star in 'Woza Albert' this week at the PE Opera House
Simphiwe Mzimba, left, and Sinakho Calata will star in ‘Woza Albert’ this week at the PE Opera House

Producer and actor Sinakho Calata plans to breathe new life into the classic South African play Woza Albert! at the PE Opera House this week.

The 21-year-old Calata will be working alongside Simphiwe Mzimba, with director Zwai Mgijima, to recreate the classic satirical piece, originally written by Mbongeni Ngema, Percy Mtwa and the late Barney Simon in 1981.

Woza Albert! – which translates as Rise Up Albert! – explores the idea of Jesus Christ’s second coming in apartheid South Africa and follows two characters who play various members of society, such as general labourers, soldiers, policemen and vendors, and how they react to this arrival.

“The central character is Jesus Christ and the action follows the anticipation of his arrival, and movements around the country.

“This resurrection translates into the resurrection of fallen heroes of the struggle such as Albert Luthuli,” Calata said.

He believes the play carries a timeless message as the issues reflect what is visible in society today.

“It’s applicable in today’s context, I can still see people going through similar struggles and who are still victims to similar absurdities and delusions that were present in apartheid South Africa.

“The play seemed like the ideal one to do looking at the socio-political landscape of the country and the general awareness of the people,” Calata said.

The upcoming performance will be the second time that Calata will present the play at the Opera House, having presented it in 2013 with one of the writers, Mbongeni Ngema.

Calata, who originally studied towards a BSc in quantity surveying, later shifted his focus to arts administration, and said his love for theatre was influenced by his mother – Peggy Calata – as well as his high school drama teacher.

“My mother has had a huge influence on me in terms of theatre. When I learned she wrote plays during her school days I figured it’s not surprising then that I love theatre.

“My high school drama teacher and mentor, Greg Everard, also influenced me tremendously with his insight and expertise in dramatic art.”

Mgijima, recommended as director by acclaimed playwright Winston Ntshona, said people should anticipate thought-provoking performances: “Audience members should expect to have their conscience interrogated,” he said.

Woza Albert! opens at the Barn Theatre tomorrow at 7pm, and runs until Saturday. There will also be a 2pm matinee on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are R50. ý For further information contact Peggy Calata on 076-324-2458 or Sinakho Calata on 071-383-2098.

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