Poison

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Poison is a musical by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen.

The original text

A serious musical about the world of the drug trade and gangsterism in Cape Town in the early 1990s, partly based on Shakespeare's Othello, with music, book and lyrics by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen. First performed in 1992, the play was very well received in South Africa, Malaysia and London.

Translations and adaptations

The musical was reworked and updated in 2019, being set in 1995 and retitled Danger in the Dark. Most of Taliep Petersen's original compositions were retained, but a new libretto was written by David Kramer. Still loosely based on Shakespeare’s Othello, this reworked version tells the story from the point of view of Pamela, a social worker who is writing her thesis on drug abuse in the Cape Flats, and her attempt to stand up to the drug dealers on the Cape Flats.

It was first performed at the Baxter Theatre on 11 October, 2019.

Performance history in South Africa

1992: First directed for CAPAB Opera by Janice Honeyman at the Nico Malan Theatre, opening 20 October 1992. Deisgns by Andrew Botha, choric work by Hotep Galeta, choreography by Christopher Kindo, costumes by Fanie Steenkamp, lighting by Malcolm Hurrell. The cast included Al Hendricks, Winston Pienaar, Steve Walsh, Jenny de Lenta, Giempie Vardien, Ricky Rudolph, Bettina Schouw, Linda Alexander, Didi Moses, Arthur Petersen, Rashied Cassiem and Jody Abrahams.

1994: David Kramer directed the adapted version with the Volkswagen Music Active drama group at the Baxter Theatre in 1994, when Kramer won the FNB Vita Award for Best Director of a Musical. Also played in Malaysia.

1995: Poison was staged at the Port Elizabeth Opera House.

2004: Bobby Heaney directed a new production at the Baxter Theatre as part of the Klipfontein Corridor Project.

2019: Danger in the Dark previewed at the Baxter Theatre from 11 to 14 October, opening on 15 October and runnign until 2 November. Directed by David Kramer with assistant director Grant van Ster, with Alexis Petersen (Langarm, Calling us Home) as Pamela, Rushney Ferguson (District Six – Kanala!, Langarm) as Juanita, Elton Landrew (Kat and the Kings, Langarm) as Poison, Eldon van der Merwe (Arendsvlei, Fiela se Kind) as Chicco, Tashreeq de Villiers (Aunty Merle, The Musical, Satin to Sequins) as Lucky, Edith Plaatjies (King Kong, Orpheus in Africa) as Mrs Joseph, Dobs Madotyeni (Born in the RSA, The Lion King) as Michael and Chad Baai (Spring Awakening, Fame-The Musical) as Shawn. The chorus comprised Luke Buys, Loreto Cabrera, Lewellyn Afrika, Luke de Kock, Anzio September, Lubabalo Pupu, Rori York Bingham, Nadine Suliaman, Alex Rodkin, Chamonay Anthony, Mekaila Mathys, Crystal Finck, Gabriela Dirkse and Tanzley Jooste. The rest of the creative team consisted of Camillo Lombard (musical director); Patrick Curtis (set and lighting designer); David Classen (sound designer); Widaad Albertus (costume designer) and choreography by Shaun Oelf and Grant van Ster. Music was provided by Grandall Vlotman (conductor and keyboards), Shaun Francke (guitar), Jason Ward (drums and percussion), Yvan Potts (synthesizers) and Kurt Randall (bassist).

2020: Danger in the Dark was to have been performed once more at the Baxter Theatre from 9 March, but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in South Africa.

Sources

Poison theatre programme, 1992.

https://www.southernvines.co.za/event/david-kramers-musical-danger-in-the-dark-at-the-baxter-theatre/

Personal message from David Kramer to Ivor Markman, June 2018.

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