“What if the Marikana Massacre happened and was kept a secret? Or if Sam Nzima took the picture of Hector Peterson and was forced to delete it due to a policy that wanted to portray an illusion that all is well in Apartheid South Africa, thus muting the screams of the masses and washing their blood away with the cloth of censorship?”
Le Journal explores the world of television news and censorship through the eyes of Mandla Vilakazi, the Editor in Chief at the Public Broadcaster, a competent journalist who really believes in looking beyond the surface when it comes to him and his team reporting the news, and more importantly being at the centre of it all to document change. However, when change enters the Public Broadcaster via a changing of policy and personnel, the defiant Mandla and his latest story suffer the consequence of his protest. We watch the truth being twisted right before our eyes. This leads to a journey – the journey of the fight to rewrite the lie, so that the masses can be aware of the truth, and the struggle of the personified story being set free from the falsehood.
The 2nd Year Market Theatre Lab ensemble use elements of satire and physical theatre to explore themes of identity, individuality, control, and agency and asks the question: is the news used to serve or control the people? The play debuted at the National Arts Festival in June, and went on to win Best Actor awards for the cast, as well as Best Script at the Student Fringe.
The piece was birthed from an idea of co-director Chris Djuma’s, when he asked: where does a headline go to die? One moment the headline is everywhere and can’t be escaped, and then the next moment it has disappeared. With Dintshile Mashile co-directing and the rest of the 2nd year ensemble devising and staging, the journey led to stories within South Africa which were the greatest sources of inspiration, stories of Marikana and the SABC 8, stories which led to understanding the role of journalism in South Africa as a critical pillar of a democratic society, as well as an understanding of protest as a language of the people and what it would mean if these democratic elements were to be compromised.
Le Journal is on at the Ramalao Makhene Theatre at the Market Square, from August 29 to September 1. Tickets are available at Webtickets, Pick ‘n Pay or at the door.