The Dogs Must be Crazy

Conceived and directed this 8-person, non-verbal, multi-sketch satirical piece on the expectations of “the New South Africa”, with dogs being the central characters in each sketch. Produced with the Community Arts Project (CAP) Theatre Company for the Standard Bank National Arts Festival Fringe in 1991. It was selected “Hot off the Fringe” and had a short run at the Market Theatre subsequently.

My first play, The Dogs Must be Crazy  consists of a series of seven sketches. Each sketch deals satirically with some aspect of the changing political scene and has dogs as the central characters, with the respective scenario viewed from their canine perspective.

The themes include:

  • “Watchdogs” – the importance of trade unions looking after the interests of workers
  • “Pavlov’s Dog” – how people who have been abused continue to behave subserviently even though they are now released
  • “Blind Dogs Leading the Blind” – as the masses are led to an unknown new dispensation
  • “Gone to the Dogs” – an ironic perspective on how ‘high culture’ lovers viewed the New South Africa treating their beloved art forms, like opera.


The play was created with the Community Arts Project (CAP) Theatre Company in 1991. I conceived the play as a whole and the premise for each sketch, which was then workshopped with the actors.

The play was completely non-verbal for two reasons:

  1. Much of anti-apartheid theatre at that time was very polemical and slogan-filled with the message being far more important than form, so that “the theatre experience” wasn’t fulfilling. Since CAP’s mission was to train theatre facilitators who would help to improve the quality of people’s or popular theatre, we were experimenting with ways to make political points in a visually and theatrically interesting manner.
  2. Much of the theatre being done for community-based audiences was in English, and we wanted to develop a style of theatre that could transcend the spoken word, and make the message more accessible, without needing proficiency in English.

The sketches were performed in the manner of a silent movie, with live music provided by a keyboard player, Basil Snairs.

Availability of script

Given the workshopped method and non-verbal style of the play, there is no script, only notes. Please contact for further information.

Production Details

First production – The Dogs Must be Crazy was first performed at the Community Arts Project in Woodstock, Cape Town. It had its first mainstream outing at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July 1991.

  • Director – Mike van Graan
  • Cast included Patrick Mofokeng, Bo Petersen, Bongani Zindela, Sipho Masha
  • Seasons – Played at the Market Theatre as part of the “Hot off the Fringe” season, Aug/Sept 1991