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Award-Winning Theatre Duo Returns to The Market Theatre with Poetic Revival

The team behind last year’s much acclaimed production of Khongolose Khommanding Khommissars (KKK) return to The Market Theatre, this time with Poet-O-Type. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the play, the award-winning “Theatre Duo” – Billy Langa & Mahlatsi Mokgonyana – and playwright J. Bobs Tshabalala, collaborate on this new staging.

Poet-O-Type follows the journey of a talented student of poetry as he contends with the varied and at times contradictory lessons of his mentor. Part ode to poets and wordsmiths, the play explores the life of artists who are trying to make a living by weaving words as they navigate the underground poetry-in-performance scene in pursuit of recognition and admiration. The play is funny, witty, full of language play, and is crafted by a team with a deep love of words.

This revival of Tshabalala’s play, exactly a decade after its debut, is directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana, working alongside original cast member, Billy Langa (Tswalo, The Life and Times of Michael K) who reprises his role as the mentor. Artistic Director of The Market Theatre, Greg Homann, shares, “One can see why this role, which was seemingly made for Billy, has evolved and grown as the show has matured under Mahlatsi’s direction.” 

Mokgonyana and the creative team deliver a tighter and slightly restructured production since the original version staged ten years ago.

Alongside Langa, is the prodigiously talented newcomer Trevor Lynch who was seen last year on the John Kani stage at The Market in the end-of-the-year comedy, A Marry Little Christmas. The production’s other creative collaborators include Kozo Zwane whose music and soundscapes create the world of the play and Ernest ‘Ginger’ Baleni whose movement direction elevates the theatrical style of the work. This is a cast and creative team at the top their game.

The dynamic two-hander sizzles with energy and an inviting playfulness as the two actors spar with words, which Tshabalala conjures with deft craft and sharpness.

Tshabalala, who was recently awarded the Naledi Award for Best New South African Script for Khongolose Khommanding Khommissars (KKK), has written with Poet-O-Type a play that accessibly enters a heightened poetic space where words, their meanings, double-meanings, and even wholesale lack of meaning become the silver thread. The relatable dialogue is clever and witty but never indulgent. This dynamic makes the production appealing to a wide audience, as well as being the perfect production for school-learners grappling with figures of speech in poetic language. This is a play that will engage an audience in an entertaining way, while nurturing an understanding of language and poetry.

Performances take place at The Market Theatre from 11 to 28 July at the theatre’s usual time, and with the possibility of school performances by special arrangement from Wednesday to Friday at 11am.