Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bopha! (also 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.

Bopha!: 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.

The play premiered at the Market Theatre in September 1985, and proceeded to a national and international tour that included Swaziland, Scotland, England, USA, and Australia, finally being performed in 1987 at the Los Angeles International Festival, where the play became recipient of five Drama Critic Circle Awards for Best Play, Best Director and Best Actor for each of the three actors.

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.

In 1993, the play was adapted into a Hollywood film, and filmed as Morgan Freeman's directorial debut.

Performance history in South Africa

1985: First performed in the Laager at The Market Theatre as a Market Theatre and Earth Players collaboration in September 1985, directed by Percy Mtwa, with 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.

1986: Presented at Eyethu Cinema with the original cast before they left to perform in Scotland. The production was also presented as part of Dramfes '86.

1989: A revival production with the original cast was presented at the DOCC.

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

2021: Performed at the South African State Theatre, Pretoria, from 25 May to 13 June, directed by Percy Mtwa, with Bheki Mkhwane, Tshallo Chokwe and Terrence Ngwila.

Bopha!: 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. Other South African actors include Robin Smith,


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

"Percy Mtwa Restages Bopha!", press release South African State Theatre (April 13, 2021), Artslink[1]

Ruphin Coudyzer. 2023. Annotated list of his photographs of Market Theatre productions. (Provided by Coudyzer)

Andile Xaba. 2021. 'Collective memory and the construction of a historical narrative, analysis and interpretation of selected Soweto-based community plays (1984–1994)'. Unpublished PhD thesis.

Return to

Return to PLAYS I: Original SA plays

Return to PLAYS II: Foreign plays

Return to PLAYS III: Collections

Return to PLAYS IV: Pageants and public performances

Return to South African Festivals and Competitions

Return to South_African_Films

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page