No thanks to Nathi: ‘Kamphoer’ is a shining beacon in theatre’s ...

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No thanks to Nathi: ‘Kamphoer’ is a shining beacon in theatre’s dark era

Doing justice to the past does require an emphasis on the injustices committed — and this play does just that

Chris Thurman

Lately, I’ve joined a chorus of voices criticising minister of sport, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa. The minister has been doing a shoddy job for years, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was a tweet in which he claimed theatre in SA is “alive and well”, listing a handful of government-subsidised theatres as evidence.

One of the sad ironies of the backlash against Mthethwa’s tweet (for which his ministry subsequently apologised) is that, precisely because so few artists and institutions receive state support, citing some that do merely fans angry flames in their direction. But the fact is, publicly-funded performing arts venues and organisations have an important role to play when dire circumstances such as those wrought by Covid-19 are decimating the sector.

They can suffer more slings and arrows. Take more hits. They can, as the Market Theatre is now doing, run a show at what is guaranteed to be a loss (no matter how brilliant it may be). Since four dozen people in a socially distanced audience each night is — well, at about R100 a ticket, you can do the maths. That will never come close to covering costs...

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