Happy Natives

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Happy Natives (2002) is a full-length, two-hander satirical play by Greig Coetzee. Published by University of Natal Press.


The two main characters are friends, actors-between-jobs who have the opportunity to pitch for a lucrative government commission to stage a play that will sell South Africa to foreign investors. For maximum impact the production has to feature as many as possible of the powerful, uniquely African images of wild animals, tribal dancing, ethnic costumes, animal skins and feathers. In addition, what the sponsor, the cultural ministry, requires is images of the powerfully emerging African Renaissance which will show the outside world that this continent is the place to invest in. Ideally the actors should represent different racial groups showing the face of the Rainbow Nation.

Coetzee was inspired by the commercial value of presenting the new South Africa (2002) in sensational warm-and-fuzzy terms that came close to anything but the truth. His play became a scorching send-up of South African stereotypes and preconceptions and an exposé of hypocrisy.

Performance history in South Africa

First staged on the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002 and ran for four weeks in London, with Greig Coetzee and James Ngcobo.

Premièred in South Africa at the Grahamstown Festival in 2003, directed by Christine Harmar-Brown and Mark Rayment, with Greig Coetzee and Sello Sebotsane. The same production was staged in the Baxter Theatre Studio in July 2003, in the Theatre on the Square in August 2003 and in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the Hilton Arts Festival in September 2003.

Translations and adaptations


The Star, 16 September 2002.

The Argus, 11 July 2003.

Die Burger, 12 July 2003.

The Citizen, 12 August 2003.

Business Day, 13 August 2003.

Natal Witness, 18 September 2003.

[Van Heerden (2008)][1]. p 168.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Templates

Return to H in Plays I Original SA Plays

Return to H in Plays IV: Festivals and Pageants

Return to South_African_Theatre/Plays

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page