Some of our Best Friends are Cultural Workers (1992)

Two cultural workers constitute the Cultural Wankers Congress (CWC). One of them also heads the Congress of Cultural Wankers (CCW) while the other serves on the fundraising committee of the Wankers Cultural Congress (WCC). The title is ironic, given that the play was written and performed by two relatively well-known “cultural workers” at the time, and it was intended to be a satirical self-reflection.

The struggle against apartheid led to the proliferation of acronyms of organisations, some of them more effective than others, some serving merely to serve the self-interests of power and access to international funding of its leadership.  This satire was one of the first, if not the first, satire on the progressive cultural movement and the Cultural Desk in particular, by those who were active participants in these very activities.

History

After the success of his first play – The Dogs Must be Crazy – at the National Arts Festival the previous year, I was inspired to write another piece for the Festival Fringe in 1992.  At the time, I was working in Johannesburg as the National Projects Officer of the Congress of South African Writers (COSAW), one of the leading progressive cultural formations.  I acted in the piece together with my friend and colleague, Junaid Ahmed who was the General Secretary of COSAW and a significant cultural worker at the time.

After the unbanning of the ANC and other organizations in 1989, Junaid and I wrote a paper, Ten Reasons why the Cultural Boycott Should be Lifted,  which did not endear us towards some of ourcolleagues and others in the leadership of the anti-apartheid cultural movement.  The paper and the play reflected our willingness to challenge some of the prevailing dogmas and to exercise the principle of freedom of expression that the anti-apartheid struggle was partly about, within the anti-apartheid movement itself.

Availability of script

Parts of the script exist in typed form. Please contact info@mikevangraan.co.za for more information.

Production Details

First production – performed at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival Fringe, 5-9 July, 1992

Directors – Matthew Krouse and Mike van Graan

Cast – Mike van Graan as ‘Chair’ and Junaid Ahmed as ‘Sec.’

Seasons – After its debut at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival (5-9 July 1992), the play ran again at the Market Theatre (“Hot off the Fringe” Season) in August/September 1992.

Awards/recognition

Selected as one of four “Hot off the Fringe” productions, Standard Bank National Arts Festival, 1992

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