Born in the RSA

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Born in the RSA is a multilingual, workshopped play (styled a "docudrama") by Barney Simon and cast.

The original text

A drama based on a series of interconnecting monologues, developed by the Market Theatre Company in Johannesburg in response to the declaration of a State of Emergency by then President P.W. Botha in July 1985, it presents a cross-section of characters living in South Africa during that time, at the height of the final struggle between the oppositional forces and the Apartheid government. The play presents the audience with their various testimonies – both personal and societal or national – and the resulting contacts and conflicts with the South African context of the 1980s.

Originally created and rehearsed by Barney Simon with the original cast of Fiona Ramsay, Terry Norton, Vanessa Cooke, Neil McCarthy, Timmy Kwebulana, Thoko Ntshinga and Gcina Mhlope, during July and August 1985.

The production was first staged at the Market Theatre in 1985, and went on to tour England and the US to great acclaim. First published D. Ndlovu (ed) Woza Afrika! An anthology of South African Plays (Braziller, 1986), then later in also in Kani More Market Plays (Ad Donker, 1996) and in Simon et al: Born in the RSA - Four Workshopped Plays (Witwatersrand University Press, 1997).

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1985: First performed Upstairs at the Market in August 1985 before moving to the main theatre where it opened on 18 September. Set and costume design by Sarah Roberts, lighting design by Mannie Manim.

1985-6: Went on to tour in England and the US to great acclaim, the cast now including other members, including Erica Rogers.

1986: The same production was performed at the Baxter Theatre in 1986. Set design by Sarah Roberts, lighting design by Mannie Manim.

2015: Performed by the Baxter Theatre company at the National Arts Festival (Graeme College, 2-4 July) and at the Baxter Theatre Centre, directed by Thoko Ntshinga with Faniswa Yisa, Roeline Daneel, Vakalisi 'Dobs' Madotyeni, Emily Child, Francis Chouler and Zanele Radu.


Born in the RSA theatre programme, Market Theatre, 1985.

Pat Schwartz 1988.

Various entries in the NELM catalogue.

Press Release: Born in the RSA to be restaged at National Arts Festival 20 years after Barney Simon's death - 27 May 2015(The Famous Idea <>)

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