An explosive new adaptation of August Strindberg's classic Miss Julie, under the title Mies Julie, returns to The Market Theatre after 28 years!
When Miss Julie was performed at the Baxter and Market Theatres in 1985 in apartheid South Africa, starring Sandra Prinsloo and John Kani, it created much controversy. It was the cross-colour kiss on a South African theatre stage that sparked a national outcry by right-wing Afrikaners involving protests, death threats and immense pressure on the Censor Board to ban the production. Following this, the production went on to be performed at the Edinburgh Festival.
Now, in true Yael Farber (director) style, the 2002 Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner tackles the deeper complexities of our society head-on and locates the play against the remote, bleak beauty of the Eastern Cape Karoo. Her probing adaptation looks at a post-traumatic society and the knot of inheritances and legacies that entangle lives in the aftermath. Haunting and violent, intimate and epic, the struggles between the three individuals reach to address issues of restitution and the reality of what can and cannot ever be recovered.
Transposed to a post-apartheid kitchen - a potent convergence point of domination, domestic practicality and untenable sadness - a single night, both brutal and tender, unfolds between a black farm labourer, the daughter of his "master" and the woman who has raised them both. The visceral struggles of contemporary South Africa are laid bare in this domestic setting, as a deadly battle over power, sexuality, memory, mothers and land spirals out of control between John and Julie.
"This is a Miss Julie for a world grappling to redefine itself. It is a disturbing yet mesmerising theatrical experience that reaches to address issues of restitution and the reality of what can and cannot ever be recovered."
Mies Julie, the undisputed smash hit of the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, amassed an unrivalled 10 five-star reviews, a clutch of prestigious awards and a breathless supply of superlatives.
In a contemporary reworking of Strindberg's classic Miss Julie, internationally acclaimed adaptor and director Yael Farber has ingeniously transposed this 1888 parable of class and gender to a remote, bleak farm in modern-day South Africa's Cape Karoo. Both play and setting brilliantly illuminate each other, creating a newly menacing, torridly passionate, urgently relevant allegory for a post-apartheid state in profound transition.
Against the pulsating, poignant backdrop of the annual Freedom Day celebrations, Xhosa farm labourer John and Mies Julie, the daughter of his white Afrikaans master, embark on a ruinous night, fuelled by drink, heat, generation-deep resentments and earthy, brutal, primal passion. Christine, meanwhile - cleverly recast as his mother and Julie's childhood nurse - continues to scrub the floor as three generations of her family have: a manifest emblem of the old regime, her very fingerprints worn away by servitude.
The Baxter Theatre Centre's smash-hit play Mies Julie, written and directed by Farber, has been hailed as an international triumph and it has already received unprecedented acclaim, scooping two top awards and garnering numerous five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival so far.
Renowned theatre critic Dominic Cavendish of the Telegraph best describes it: "Yael Farber has enjoyed successes on the Edinburgh Fringe before, but this year the dream has come true in a way that has taken even her breath way. She has a sell-out hit on her hands, the subject of five-star raves - 'The best Miss Julie I've ever seen'- and the kind of word of mouth that means it's only a matter of time before what looks, at the end of the second week of the Fringe, like the big 'find' of this year.'
Farber has assembled a formidable creative team and cast led by Thoko Ntshinga as Christine with Bongile Mantsai as John and Hilda Cronje as Julie. Canadian brothers Daniel and Matthew Pencer provide the music for the production with their unique sound, in collaboration with Tandiwe Nofirst Lungisa from the Ngqoko Cultural Group. Set design is by Patrick Curtis, lighting is by Paul Abrams and the assistant director is Zoleka Helesi.
The accolades include The Bank of Scotland Herald Angel, awarded by the newspaper's arts writers to acknowledge the outstanding achievement by performers or productions, and The Scotsman Fringe First award, which encourages new theatre writing or translations. It was also short-listed for the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award and The Stage recommended it highly as a "Must See!"
Five-star reviews were received from more than 10 arts reviewers in publications including The Scotsman, The Guardian, The Herald, London Evening Standard, The Times, British Theatre Guide What'sOnStage, ScotsGay Magazine and Three Weeks, as well as numerous blogs.
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