This is a quote by Nelson Mandela, the great man who fought for equality in the first row. But who was this man and which sacrifices did he have to make on his journey? On November 11th, 2019 the American Drama Group presented a play which focused on the life of the first black South African president at the Academy of Arts.
I admit that I did not have great expectations when we went to see the play, since I feared that it might be a boring biography of a politician who is no longer alive. But I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the actors and the intensity with which they conveyed the story of a man who never gave up in his fight for human rights. We learned about his early successes at school where he was given a Western name to make him fit in, about how he became a lawyer and was then imprisoned for 27 years because he stood up for his beliefs..
In addition, they also focused on Winnie Mandela, her changing situation and the development of her character. In contrast to her husband she did despaired during her imprisonment and came to approve of violence as a means of fighting for the rights of her people.
Striking was the way the white suppressors were represented. Because all the actors were black, they decided to wear white masks when impersonating a white person. Besides thy spoke with a British instead of a South African accent, walked in a very stiff way and did not show any emotions. This evoked fear in the audience which led us to understand how scared black people must have been in the time of Apartheid.
Although I’m not a fan of musicals I especially enjoyed the use of music in the play which created a special atmosphere and mirrored changing moods. The director also played with sound effects and minimalistic stage designs effectively.
To come to a conclusion, I can say that for me, this was one of the best theater plays I have ever seen. It was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in theater or wants to know more about the history of Apartheid, Nelson Mandela and his life. And that in a more realistic approach that you see in Hollywood productions.
Picture: Nelson Mandela Silhouette by Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/de/view-image.php?image=292126&picture=nelson-mandela-silhouette