Dusk, which is currently running at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg was written by relative newcomer to the professional stage, Mark Scheepers. Previously, Scheepers’ work has included Sugar Daddies Rot Your Teeth, a play for teens which won the runner up prize in the Maskew Miller Longman Youth Literature Awards in 2012. Sugar Daddies Rot Your Teeth was subsequently published in an anthology for grades 7-9 alongside that of author, performer, playwright, poet, director, and storytelling luminary Gcina Mhlophe and writer, editor and literary critic, Karina Szczurek, among others.
Dusk deals with a myriad of pertinent and contemporary South African issues from crime, land, racial inequality and the results of the unfinished ‘rainbow nation’ project. It goes further to interrogate more interpersonal issues such as mental health, interracial love, homosexual relationships as well as mental health. The power of this production lies in how it carefully places these issues side by side and demonstrate how interconnected they are, depicted in how the two characters on stage try to navigate each of them from their disparate perspectives and peculiar lived experiences.
Charged with crafting a directorial vision to bring Dusk to the theatre stage is actor, director and award-winning playwright, Palesa Mazamisa, who is not new to the Market Theatre stage having previously staged her play, Shoes & Coups, in the Barney Simon Theatre in 2018. In the country’s premier theatre awards, Shoes & Coups received multiple Naledi Theatre Awards nominations in 2019 iteration for namely, Best New South African Script, Best Director, Best Production and for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. It scooped awards for Best New South African Script and Best Supporting Actor. In 2020, Mazamisa was also part of #Ditshomo, the Market Theatre’s virtual theatre project in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which forced theatres and other public facilities to close. For that, Mazamisa staged Lazyboy featuring Zikhona Sodlaka which was streamed live on the Market Theatre social media platforms.
Dusk features Loyiso McDonald who is best known for his role as ‘Kagiso Khoza’ on the television soapie The Queen and Michelle Douglas who has appeared in a number of television shows such as Binnelanders, and well received theatre shows in the mould of Green Man Flashing written by Mike Van Graan. More recently, she has appeared in Breathing Space : The Life of Olive Schreiner which showed at the virtual National Arts Festival Makhanda.
Dusk is essentially about secrets. The secret which Tessa (played by Michelle Douglas) holds of what really happened to her family the night the horrific crime happened. The secret of why KG (played by Loyiso McDonald) visits Tessa. KG’s secret relationship, among others. Though Dusk is secret-driven, it is about much more than the secrets the characters hold, and as one the play moves back and forth, some secrets are revealed and others not in so many words. As the Tessa and KG grapple with their own demons and try as best to find out what they need to know without implicating themselves in anything which they may be unable to explain, it becomes much like a slow burning crime-thriller, with the powerful storm outside which does not abate, adding to the drama and intrigue of this evening of multiple unravellings of ‘truths’.
Dusk is performed as part of the Market Theatre’s drive to find new voices, and thereby showcase new and fresh works on their stages. Dusk is a refreshing production which no doubt will engage the audiences and have them on the edge-of-their-seats as they are confronted by unthinkable surprises at every turn.
Dusk is directed by Palesa Mazamisa, written by Mark Scheepers and featuring Loyiso McDonala and Michelle Douglas. Lighting Design is by Josias Mashiane, Props and Set Design by Karabo Legoabe-Mtshali, Costume Design by Busisiwe Nkabinde, Sound Design by Mandla Mkaba and Stafe Management by Tiisetso Mwane-Madzhie. It is currently on at The Market Theatre Week in Johannesburg from 6 August – 29 August 2021.
Tonderai Chiyindiko is a part-time arts writer and contributor. He holds a B.A honours degree in drama from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters degree in Applied Drama from University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has been part and parcel of the theatre-verse both as an actor and director and more generally worked extensively within the cultural and creative industries sector in various capacities.