Fordsburg's Finest

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Fordsburg's Finest is a play by Paul Slabolepszy.

The original text

A play about about reconciliation: the daughter of a black South African musician was taken by her parents to New York as an infant in the fifties. She lost them both at a young age, grew up to become a single, self-assured African-American and returns four decades later on a pilgrimage to her birthplace in Fordsburg, Johannesburg to find her roots. She finds the site of the house where she was born and it is now a rundown used car sales lot owned and occupied by a 50-year old Afrikaner ex-policeman whose son died in the border war, whose wife left him, and who has learnt to hide his pain behind the mask of a used car salesman. The encounter between these two damaged individuals provides the situation for painful self-discovery, for an exploration of the tensions existing in the new South African condition, and ultimately it leads to a kind of reconciliation brought about by a mutual recognition of suffering. “The play is about two people who, having long walked on firm ground, now find that they cannot take its firmness for granted. The old blacks and whites won't do anymore. The old baggage and clutter have to go” (Greig, 1998c). [Van Heerden (2008)][1] p.106

Translations and adaptations

The text was adapted to reflect retrospectively on the positive years circa 1996 and rewritten as a two hander of the same name by Slabolepsy in 2022.

Performance history in South Africa

1998: Premièred in 1998 at the Market Theatre in February 1998 with Marius Weyers as Foxy Freddie, African-American actress Dorcas Johnson and Paul Slabolepszy, directed by Lara Foot-Newton, assisted by Pule Hlatshwayo. Nadya Cohen (set), Sue Steele (costumes).

2022: Produced by Pieter Toerien and performed at the Theatre on the Bay 23 August till 10 September, directed by Bobby Heaney, with Chi Mende and Paul Slabolepszy. Thereafter scheduled for performance at the Montecasino Theatre in Johannesburg from 16 September to 9 October.


Mail & Guardian 13-19 Feb 1998.

Pretoria News, 10 February 1998.

Review by Paul Boekkooi, Beeld, 13 February 1998.

Laetitia Pople, "SA van 90's se hoop herbesoek", Die Burger, 25 August, 2022: p. 12.[2]

Review by Megan Choritz, WeekendSpecial 22 August 2022[3]

Johann van Heerden. 2008. Theatre in a new democracy. Some major trends in South African theatre from 1994 to 2003. Unpublished D.Phil, University of Stellenbosch[4]

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