By Max Frisch
English Translation by Michael Bullock
By agreement with Suhrkamp Verlag, Germany
Directed by Mark Fleishman
Musical Direction and Composition by Neo Muyanga
Set and Lighting Design by Michel Faure
Costumes Designed by Illka Louw
Puppets designed and constructed by Janni Donald
With Jamie Bartlett, Jennie Reznek, Hamadoun Kassogue, Ivan Abrahams, Patrick Mohr, Sizwe Msutu, Mas Soegeng, Faniswa Yisa, Bheki Ndlovu and Gary Naidoo.
The Fire Raisers brings together the Swiss Playwright Max Frisch’s witty text with a Brechtian chorus sung under the musical direction of Neo Muyanga (of Blk Sonshine fame), Spirale’s choral expertise and Magnet’s unique physical imagery. The production explores with incendiary effect the consequences that face a world in which the gap between rich and poor widens daily. Written in 1968 in Switzerland as a response the rise of fascism in Europe the play works in South Africa today as a timely reminder that reconciliation based on political compromise and simple calls for racial harmony will always remain fragile if we ignore the social economic and cultural exclusion and injustice experienced by so many in our country, an exclusion that gives rise to so much of the culture of violence that surrounds us.
This exchange between Magnet Theatre and Theatre Spirale was designed to enrich not only the immediate company members working on the production of The Fire Raisers but the various communities and organizations that each group works with in their respective countries. Workshops have been run by Theatre Spirale for the satellite groups surrounding Magnet Theatre: Khayelitsha drama groups that form part of Magnet Theatres Community Groups Intervention, trainees at Jazzart, drama students from UCT and professional actors. In Geneva, Magnet Theatre ran workshops for Spirale’s satellite groups including their youth drama company.
“Post-war play to make you think. Allegory at its most effective. Engaging cast. Well worth seeing – but expect to lie awake afterwards. You will be thinking.”
Karyn Maughan, Cape Argus Tonight!
“Mark Fleishman’s genius in the director’s chair is clearly visible as he builds the wonder with a strong cast perspective changes and disruptions that effortlessly interlock imagination and reality. The life like, omniscient, omnipresent puppets that form the chorus, as in a typical Greek tragedy, further ensconce the magical realism. Jamie Bartlett is superbly cast. Jennie Reznek must be one of the best comedy actresses we have and together with Faniswa Yisa they set the stage alight. The Fire Raisers is a piece of theatre that we all need to see. It is challenging theatre and highly recommended.”
Rafiek Mammon, Cape Times. 25 August, 2004
Magnet Theatre (Cape Town) and Théâtre Spirale (Geneva) Baxter Theatre, Cape Town; La Parfumerie, Geneva: Schalchthaus, Berne; Temple Allemande, La Chaud De Fond.
Pro Helvetia – The Arts Council of Switzerland
Le Département des Affaires Culturelles de la Ville de Genève
Le Département de L’instruction Publique de L’état de Genève
National Lottery Board
National Arts Council of South Africa
Western Cape Cultural Commission