Pay Back the Curry

A multi-sketch satirical one-hander in the tradition of Bafana Republic, that premiered in 2016 at the National Arts Festival and won its performer, Daniel Mpilo Richards, the Naledi Theatre Award for Best Newcomer and a nomination in the Best New Script category.


After working with Daniel Richards on Born Free, I realised how talented he was. So I promised him that I would write a multi-sketch revue that would showcase his range of skills.  And so, Pay Back the Curry was born.  Both Siv Ngesi, who offered to produce it, and Dan wanted to work with Rob van Vuuren as the Director, and that’s how the creative team that would work on three editions came into being.

We aimed to launch Pay Back the Curry on the Fringe of the National Arts Festival in 2016.  Prior to that, we developed the piece by showcasing it to various audiences ranging from Franschhoek, Rosebank and Kenilworth, to Khayelitsha and Delft.  We asked audiences to complete questionnaires to give feedback to the show, which helped us to amend sketches, sometimes replacing sketches with something completely new and re-ordering the sketches.

Everywhere we went, people were blown away by Daniel’s talent and skills.  By the time we got to premier the show in Grahamstown, word of mouth had spread so that our first show was sold out and so was every one of the subsequent nine shows, a most unlikely feat for a new show on the Fringe.

First Production

National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, 28 June-8 July 2016

(After one-off development shows at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, Kenilworth, Rosebank, Khayelitsha Shack Theatre, Delft Rainbow Arts Organisation).


Rob van Vuuren


Daniel Mpilo Richards


Pay Back the Curry was performed more than 120 times around the country.  Some of the seasons include:

National Arts Festival, 28 June-8 July 2016

969 Festival, Johannesburg

Kalk Bay Theatre, 30 August to 10 September 2016

Auto and General Theatre on the Square, 22 November to 15 December 2016

Drama Factory, Somerset West, 9-11 March 2017

National Arts Festival, 30 June-8 July 2017

What the Critics Said

“…brilliant, brilliant…what a production…a great piece of theatre”

  • Fred Khumalo

“An intimate and perspicacious observation of current affairs woven into a pun(ny) and funny script that serve as both hilarious comedy and satire and astute, articulate social criticism…a superb performance.”

  • Ebrahim Fakir, Daily Vox


Winner: Daniel Mpilo Richards, Best Newcomer, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2016

Nominee: Best New Script, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2016

Nominee: Daniel Mpilo Richards, Best Performance in a Revue, Cabaret or One-Person Show, Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards, 2016

Availability of script

The script is available on this site, and is likely to be published along with State Fracture and Land Acts.

Audio-visual material