M and I had completely opposite reactions to the multi-award winning Marikana - The Musical, now on at the State Theatre until mid-August. I saw the miner's song and dance akin to a war dance, while M saw it as positioning the miners as an arrogant bunch of thugs. I found the lyrics and positioning to confront the socio-economic dynamics, while M saw it as a reflection of the miners committing to their own demise. Both of us contrasted the performance to Rezad Desai's Miners Shot Down, which focused quite a bit on the political machinations around the tragedy - something the musical doesn't really focus on; and I think the documentary will remain the definitive voice on the tragedy. Neither of us read any reviews before going to the performance, and there a few criticims (esp with regards to attribution of cause) - but we did both agree that the performance itself was amazing.
The set design was genius - the hill serving as both the musician cage and the prop. The music traversed various styles; and the vocalists were great. The translations of various vernacular phrases was patchy (some of it was projected) but there was enough English around to keep the story in line. And the acting was equally impressive - regardless of the viewpoint of the interpretation.
I think I convinced M on my interpretation - but I suppose it is to be expected that different people will interpret art differently. As long as it is accepted that the musical itself is not a full portrayal of the events; I think it will be fine. Like the last two scenes - first by the widows followed by a father - the musical is also an eulogy that reminds all of the socio-economic factors that hold down our fraught labour relations.
This is an amazing performance that needs to be seen by all, and at R100 a ticket, the musical is very accessible.