The Children and the Bees

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Directed by Mark Fleishman, assisted by Frances Marek, Alex Halligey and Faniswa Yisa, The Children and the Bees was first performed as a companion piece to the opera Brundibár at Artscape Theatre in July 2011.

Brundibár was written by Czech composer, Hans Krása. Based on a Czech folktale, Brundibár was performed 55 times in the Nazi ghetto, Terezín, before its composer and many of the children in the cast were transported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Magnet Theatre was approached by the Cape Town Holocaust Centre to create a companion play for the opera which led to the creation of The Children and The Bees. Initially performed by a cast of 28 many of whom were high school learners, the current run of play will be reworked to be performed by the full time Magnet Theatre trainees.

Based on similar themes to the opera, Mark Fleishman of Magnet Theatre, assisted by Frances Marek, Alex Halligey and Faniswa Yisa used South African story-telling traditions to explore the themes of displacement, migration and refugees.

The Children and the Bees re-imagines the fairytale of The Pied Piper of Hamelin to explore themes of children in crisis situations and their stories of survival. The play draws on the testimonies of child survivors from across the world: from the Holocaust in Europe to the Rwandan genocide; from Nigeria to Burundi, South Africa and Australia. It weaves together magic fairytales and grim reality to create a story that should be thought-provoking for adults and children alike.

Says Mark Fleishman: “We have focused on displacement. While the opera is located in and derived from a European content and tradition, Magnet asked how this might translate to our African context and traditions. While we have not attempted to create an authentic Ntsomi (a Xhosa tale told by adults for the edification of children), we have referenced this local form and re-imagined it as a tale told by children for the edification of adults.”

Written by Mark Fleishman, Frances Marek, Alex Halligey, Magnet trainees.
Director Mark Fleishman assisted by Frances Marek, Alex Halligey and Faniswa Yisa
Designer Craig Leo
Cast: Magnet Theatre trainees: Noxolo Bodlani, Lusanda Dayimani, Kay-Lee Esterhuizen, Maggie Fernando, Thembekile Komani, Sipho Mahlatshana, Aphiwe Menziwa, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe.