Bergville Stories

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A play by Duma ka Ndlovu (1995).


Bergville Stories deals with an incident that took place in 1956 when a group of policemen clashed with men in a rural black community in Natal. The policemen went to some dagga [marijuana] plantations near the village of Bergville to burn the crops, a source of (illegal) income for the villagers. A violent skirmish resulted in the death of five policemen and a number of the villagers. More than twenty men from the community were arrested, tried and hanged in Pretoria Central Prison. In his production Ka Ndlovu linked these historical events theatrically as a narrative device to the plight of hostel dwellers in Gauteng four decades later, the time of the production, and he staged it through riveting narrative, combined with stirring songs and vigorous dance routines.

Performance history in South Africa

Premièred in 1995 at the Playhouse in Durban, directed by the playwright, and staged at the Grahamstown Festival 1995. The production was then moved to the Market Theatre in November 1995.

Was performed in 1997 at the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York as part of the Woza Afrika Festival.

In April 2004 a production of Bergville Stories formed part of the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture’s celebration of a decade of democracy at the Newtown Arts Festival. It played in the Barney Simon Theatre at the Market Theatre. The cast of 10 included Mduduzi Nombela, Skhumbuzo Mabizela, Mthandeni Mvelase and Mazwe Mhlongo.

Translations and adaptations


Go to ESAT Bibliography

[Van Heerden (2008)][1] pp 96-98

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