Bafana Republic 1 (2007)

The Bafana Republic series of plays are essentially satires about aspects of contemporary South Africa, inspired by the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is not about sport as such, but it uses soccer and sport generally as entry points for social commentary. The title is a play on, and a reference to, both the derogatory notion of a “banana republic” and “Bafana Bafana” – the endearing name given to the South African national football team.

This – the first play in the series – comprises of a series of nine stand-alone sketches, each featuring a different character, with the whole held together by Marthina van Schalkwyk, the proudly South African tour guide who hosts an imaginary group at the 2010 World Cup.

Other characters include:

  • Jorge, the assistant to the Brazilian coach hired by the national team, whose main job is to collect the coach’s massive monthly salary
  • Mr Hack, the CEO of the SA Football Association doing a radio interview about the world cup
  • Chardonnay, the footballer’s wife whose husband kicks for a living and who sometimes brings his work home
  • The representative from People Against Heretics and Detractors (PAHAD) who abuses those who question the wisdom of hosting the World Cup
  • a sports commentator providing commentary on the building of the stadiums that have become political footballs
  • Bhamjee, the entrepreneur who is planning on making a killing through the World Cup
  • Kabouter Basson who works in the Drugs in Sports Institute
  • A variety of contenders in the Bafana Idols competition where the winner will get to sing at the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

Appropriate cartoons, gleaned from his massive library, are provided by Zapiro and are projected between sketches.

History

On the basis of the experience of 2006, my first year as a full-time playwright/producer, I decided that I needed a piece of theatre in my repertoire that could generate income on an ongoing basis to subsidise my plays that appealed to a more niche market audience.

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Production Details

First Production

In draft form, Bafana Republic had its first public performances at the Franschhoek Literary Festival on 11 and 12 May 2007. 

Its first, full production opened at On Broadway on Tuesday 29 May 2007 and ran till Saturday 16 June 2007.

Director – Lara Bye

Cast – Lindiwe Matshikiza

Technical support team:

  • Sound track: James Webb
  • Visuals and video: Jaco Bouwer
  • Stage management services: Jesse Kramer

Seasons

  • 11-12 May 2007 - Franschhoek Literary Festival
  • 29 May-16 June 2007 - On Broadway, Cape Town
  • 28 June-7 July 2007 - National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
  • 25-29 July 2007 - 969 Festival, Wits University, Johannesburg
  • 14-16 September 2007 - Hilton Arts Festival, Pietermaritzburg
  • 25-28 September 2007 - Aardklop Arts Festival, Potchefstroom
  • 29-30 September 2007 - Prince Albert, opening of new theatre
  • 2-28 October 2007 - Catelina Theatre, Durban
  • 3 Nov-16 Dec 2007 - Market Theatre, Johannesburg
  • 29 Jan-9 February 2008 - Die Suidoosterfees, Artscape, Cape Town

What the Critics Said

After the Franschhoek Literary Festival:

Another high-energy event was the premiere of Van Graan’s Bafana Republic. Lindiwe Matshikiza’s powerful solo performance in the satirical multi-sketch piece had audiences raving.

 - Jacqui L’Ange, Cape Times, 18 May 2007

…the energy and exuberance of local talent predominated.  Van Graan flighted his one-woman satire on the 2010 World Cup, Bafana Republic, to standing ovations.  Lindiwe Matshikiza proved herself to be an impressively versatile comic actor.

- Saliem Fakir and Liz McGregor, The Weekender, 19-20 May 2007

About the On Broadway season:

Mike van Graan’s is a welcome new voice in the South African satirical landscape...Bafana Republic brims, crackles and sparkles with Van Graan’s often outrageous humour and caustic satire…you’ll enjoy a great, subversive night at the theatre.

- Marianne Thamm, CapeTimes 6 June 2007

Vir die absolute professionaliteit van Matshikiza en alle ander betrokkenes, moet Bafana Republic gesien word.  Dis buitendien groot pret.  (For the absolute  professionalism of Matshikiza and all those involved, Bafana Republic is a must see.  It’s also great entertainment.)

- Gerrit Brand, Die Burger 31 May 2007

What a welcome boon it is…to have Van Graan himself entering the satirical scene.  Always the activist, he finds much to be dissatisfied with, and therefore to satirise in the new South Africa...This is activist theatre that trumps the bald language of protest.

- Brent Meersman, Mail and Guardian, 8-14 June 2007

At the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown:

Bafana Republic puts into words what acclaimed political cartoonist Zapiro puts into pictures…. The fusion of such provocative talents is a recipe for an enjoyable and yet profound dissection of the state of our nation, and the menacing possibilities of what it could become.

- Zyaan Davids, Cue 30 June 2007

Bafana Republic at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival is superb satire. It should precede the President’s speech at the opening of parliament…. In Bafana Republic, Van Graan once again demonstrates his fearlessness as an honest playwright.

- Ismail Mohamed, Artslink.co.za 10 July 2007

Like a Pieter-Dirk Uys seven course meal, Bafana Republic is peopled by all manner of obvious and ordinary South Africans… This is Van Graan’s writing at its best and nothing escapes his lazer-sharp wit with Matshikiza relishing every word.

- Brett Adkins, The Herald 2 July 2007

Speaking about winning, Mike van Graan’s Bafana Republic was another fantastic production which offers a satirical look at South Africa during the 2010 World Cup.  This one-woman show also features the razor-sharp talents of Lara Bye, Jaco Bouwer and the incomparable Zapiro…Lindiwe Matshikiza takes to the stage in an effortless performance in this slick and funny take on an event that will affect all aspects of our country.

- Adrienne Sichel, The Star Tonight 10 July 2007

At the 969 Festival:

Mike van Graan is one of South Africa’s greatest playwrights.  His latest offering is a clever, amusing satirical work….it went to Grahamstown where it played to packed houses…I suspect it will play to full houses wherever it goes.

- Moira de Swardt, Artslink.co.za 31 July 2007

At the Catalina Theatre season in Durban:

"Using the countrys' fixation with the 2010 World Cup to cut through contemporary South African society, Bafana Republic is as incisive as it is hilarious....With barely a change to costume, and hardly a prop in sight, Matshikiza's bringing to life of these characters and their places in society is chameleon-like in its proficiency and she is as electric as the script."

- Niren Tolsi, Mail and Guardian, November 2-8, 2007

"...I know precious little about soccer but this didn't stop me enjoying every minute of Mike van Graan's new play, a one-person show featuring the endearing, sexy, sassy and extremely versatile Lindiwe Matshikiza."

- Caroline Smart, Artsmart, 5 October 2007

At the Market Theatre:

"The best commentary on Mbeki's years is contained in Mike van Graan's brilliant Bafana Republic at the Market Theatre and acted by the exquisitely talented Lindiwe Matshikiza." 

- Charlene Smith, Thought Leader blog, Mail and Guardian, 23 November 2007

"Van Graan takes no prisoners and his clever writing leads his audience through a maze that they have to navigate with some skill.  Laugh at your peril or sometimes if you dare as every issue has different sides as the arrows piece with alarming precision."

- Dianne de Beer, Pretoria News, 6 November 2007

"Matshikiza is the toast of Johannesburg as a result of the powerhouse performance she delivers night after night in Mike van Graan's latest theatrical offering, Bafana Republic.   This award-winning playwright has turned his attention to savagely articulate satire, using the many issues surrounding the 2010 Soccer World Cup as his kick off point."

- Christina Kennedy, The Weekender, 17-18 November 2007

"...Van Graan's acerbic wit cuts through the layers of political rhetoric that have swathed the (2010 FIFA World Cup) event, revealing it to be nothing more than a farce devised to profit the elite and elevate the country's status in the eyes of the international community at the expense of the impoverished....Bafana Republic excels in its mandate to rattle our perceptions of 2010, while remaining thoroughly entertaining at the same time."

- Mary Corrigall, Sunday Independent, 18 November 2007

Awards/Recognition

  • Selected "Best One-Person Show", South African Comedy Awards, September 2006
  • Lindiwe Matshikiza nominated "Best Breakthrough Artist", SA Comedy Awards
  • Lindiwe Matshikiza nominated "Best Actress", Aardklop Arts Festival
  • Adrienne Sichel, veteran arts journalist with the Star Tonight, selected Bafana Republic as one of her six “Pick of the Fringe” productions at the National Arts Festival 2007.

Availability of script and visual material

The script is available in unpublished form. A video of one of the performances at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is available. Please contact info@mikevangraan.co.za for more information.

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