Rainbow Scars

Written after the Marikana massacre, and using the extended family as a metaphor, this 3-person play explores the so-called “rainbow nation” and whom it works for. Winner of a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival 2013 and nominated in six Naledi Theatre Award categories, including Best New Script.


Originally, I had intended to write this play as a two-hander about a white suburban mother and her black adopted daughter.  It was to explore themes of mother-daughter relationships, but within the racial polarisation of contemporary South Africa.

Then, the Marikana massacre happened.

The play expanded to include the daughter’s estranged cousin.

And it – the family – became a metaphor through which to explore the notion of the “rainbow nation” i.e. who’s included, who’s not. So, while the ‘rainbow nation’ may include the mother and her daughter with a similar education, class and cultural background – despite being different “colours”, the cousin from a more working class background is excluded.  And that is the rainbow nation – something that works for a “multi-racial” middle class minority, but not for the overwhelming majority of the country.

Most – including reviewers - responded to the play at its most superficial level i.e. as a play about inter-racial adoptions, and did not see or consider the broader metaphor.

First Production

Artscape, 24 April to 11 May, 2013


Lara Bye


Terry Norton, Mbulelo Grootboom and Kertrice Maitisa

Jennifer Steyn replaced Terry Norton for and from the third season


Artscape, 24 April to 11 May 2013

National Arts Festival Fringe, 27 June-7 July 2013

Market Theatre, 19 November-7 December 2013

National Arts Festival Fringe, 29 June-8 July 2014

Artscape Heritage Festival, 29-30 September 2014

Afrovibes Festival, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, 8-31 October 2014

Woordfees, Stellenbosch, 4-5 March 2016

What the Critics Said

“(a) powerful piece of theatre that examines a situation under the microscope then pans out to show that this is a microcosm of us all…a wonderful piece of theatre that wraps up its message in humour, affection, anxiety and conflict in that descending order of unhappiness”

  • Lesley Stones, Daily Maverick, 8 November 2013


Winner: Standard Bank Ovation Award, National Arts Festival, 2013

Nominee: Mari Borstlap, Best Lighting Design, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Nominee: Kertrice Maitisa, Best Newcomer, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Nominee: Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, Best Score, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Nominee: Best Supporting Actor, Mbulelo Grootboom, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Nominee: Best Director, Lara Bye, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Nominee: Best Production of a Play, Naledi Theatre Awards, 2013

Availability of script and audio-visual material

The script is available on this site and from Junkets Publishers.