Date:5-9 April 2016
Venue: Loft Theatre
Ticket Price: R50.00
Times:  9am, 12pm & 7pm



Ulwembu – a poignant, informative, honest and incisive theatre production about drug addiction, comes to the Playhouse Loft Theatre for a short season from 5 to 9 April.

Over the course of 2015, a dynamic team of story-tellers, playwrights, theatre-makers, academics and researchers  set about exploring the Whoonga (low-grade heroin) crisis currently plaguing KZN communities.

The result is a powerful new theatre production entitled Ulwembu (isiZulu for Spider web) created by award-winning playwright and director Neil Coppen (Tin Bucket Drum, Abnormal Loads and Animal Farm) top local actress Mpume Mtombeni,  KwaMashu-based community theatre group, The Big Brotherhood, and educational sociologist Dylan McGarry.

Described as poignant and essential viewing, Ulwembu affords local audiences the opportunity to walk in the shoes of misunderstood others, be it drug users, dealers, police officers, social workers or parents of drug users.

“With Whoonga having a catastrophic effect on communities around South Africa,” says Mthombeni, “the problem needs to be understood and addressed out in the open.”

Ulwembu, the creative team believe, provides the crucial place for transformative dialogue to take place, engaging the empathy, intellects and imaginations of audiences by allowing them to follow  the realities of a series of characters without judgment or prejudice.

To create the script, the group set out to record oral histories and testimonials from a broad cross- section of Durbanites before transforming these accounts into an unforgettable documentary-theatre experience which is designed to change the way we see and understand each other as citizens.

“If we want to respond to drugs humanely and comprehensively in Durban” explains McGarry, “we need to first understand the interwoven and deeply connected nature of this problem. Our production strives to give this contentious issue a more human face and perspective.”

Despite the serious themes, the creative team are quick to point out that Ulwembu is far from a precautionary “Say no to drugs” play.

“With this production” urges Coppen, “we wanted to create an engrossing and visceral theatrical journey for audiences, allowing the power of the story and the characters’ escalating dilemmas to reveal the many complexities and facets behind the crises.”

The cast includes Mpume Mthombeni, Vumani Khumalo, Phumlani Ngubane, Ngcebo Cele, Sandile Nxumalo and Zenzo Msomi. Direction is by Neil Coppen, design by Dylan McGarry and lighting by Tina Le Roux.

The Ulwembu team would like to invite police officers, social workers, public health practitioners, families affected by drug use, schools, and other concerned members of the public to watch the play. After every performance, the cast and creative team participate in the post-show exchange.

Show times scheduled at the Playhouse Loft theatre are as follows: Tuesday 5 @  09h00 and 12h00. Wednesday 6 @ 9h00  & 12h00, Thursday 7 @ 19h00, Friday 8 @ 12h00 & 19h00 and Saturday @ 19h00.

Booking is through Computicket and tickets are R50 for public performances. Community groups and local organizations can contact Dylan McGarry at armadylan@gmail.com for free admission. For more information please visit the Ulwembu website: www.ulwembu.net

Ulwembu has been made possible through the generous support of the Urban Futures Centre, Twist Theatre Development Project (Twist Durban), Think Theatre and the generous constant support of the Denis Hurley Centre.

This project is primarily funded by the Open Society Foundations, as well as Twist Theatre Development Project, and the Urban Futures Centre