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Bopha! ("arrested") is the name of a play by Percy Mtwa (1953-), as well as the name of an American film based on the play.

The stage play

A play about family strife and loyalties during the 1970-1980 troubles, it tells the story of a son, whose father is a policeman working for the oppressors, while he is an activist involved in the anti-apartheid struggle.

First published in D. Ndlovu (ed) Woza Afrika! An Anthology of South African Plays by Braziller, 1986.

Translations and adaptations

In 1986 a TV documentary was made of the staged version of Bopha!, narrated by Sidney Poitier.

Performance history in South Africa

1985: First performed in the Laager at The Market Theatre as a Market Theatre and Earth Players collaboration in October 1985. directed by Percy Mtwa, starring Aubrey Radebe, Aubrey Moalosi Molefe, Sydney Khumalo.

1986: Performed in the Baxter Theatre in 1986, directed by Percy Mtwa, starring Aubrey Radebe, Aubrey Moalosi Molefe, Sydney Khumalo.

2012: Performed in the Soweto Theatre as part of the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival, Johannesburg. Directed by James Ngcobo with Siyabonga Twala, Samson Khumalo, Dom Gumede and Thabo Rametsi

The film version

In 1993 a film version of Bopha! was produced by Arsenio Hall Communications, based on Mtwa's play, with a screenplay by Brian Bird and John Wierick. It was directed by Morgan Freeman with inter alia Danny Glover, Malcolm McDonald, Alfre Woodard, Marius Weyers and Sello Maake ka Ncube.


Barrow, Brian & Williams-Short, Yvonne (eds.). 1988. Theatre Alive! The Baxter Story 1977-1987.

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