The Market Theatre presents a new version of Eugène Ionesco’s “The Lesson” by Greg Homann starring theatre veterans Graham Hopkins and Fiona Ramsay alongside newcomer Lihle Ngubo.
This thrilling new version of Eugène Ionesco’s gripping play, The Lesson, is based on a translation by Donald Watson. It is a darkly entertaining theatre production about enforcing power by using knowledge and culture as a weapon.
Set in a small university town, an eager eighteen-year-old student arrives at the Professor’s home for a lesson. The action begins in a naturalistic way but shifts into a stylistic and visual feast as more surrealist and absurdist events take hold. What starts as a farcical interaction between the two becomes something more sinister.
The production stars two of South Africa’s most seasoned thespians, Graham Hopkins and Fiona Ramsay, who just concluded a celebrated run of Hansard at the Theatre on the Square. Joining this formidable duo is rising star Lihle Ngubo who makes her debut on the Market Theatre stage.
The original one-act play sits as a canonic piece of French playwriting by Romanian-French playwright Eugène Ionesco – one of the founding fathers of the theatre of the absurd. This well-loved play has been translated into dozens of languages, and its core message is no less relevant today than when it was first performed in the aftermath of the second world war.
This new version by multi-award-winning theatre maker, Greg Homann, has been updated to connect more directly with a South African audience. The broad structure of the play remains the same, as does the dramatic arc but the language and politics of the work has been shifted to focus on the complexity of a post-colonial education in a contemporary setting.
“I’m interested in how the legacy of a colonial education system impacts students today. The national cry to decolonise education, and especially the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, have sharply highlighted the complexity of teaching and learning in a South African university. The Lesson is a theatrical way to represent and explore that politics.” said Greg Homann
Working together with Homann as the Assistant Director is the highly creative Nana Pooe.
“After two years of being restricted to work on our theatre craft due to Covid 19, I feel extremely honoured to be working alongside Greg Homann on this production. Not only is the timing perfect but the politics which arise in The Lesson, and the themes in it, are closest to my heart – systems of oppression, social order, and education…among others” – Says Nana Pooe.
Homann moved to the UK shortly before the pandemic and returns to Johannesburg to direct this stirring and reenergized adaptation of the original play.
“Relocating to the UK in 2019 was always with the intention of continuing to create work and opportunities that were centered around being South African. I saw the move as a way to challenge how I explore my identity and theatre work beyond the space and home that was so familiar to me. The pandemic has undoubtedly made that challenge greater, and as tough as it has been, it has in some positive ways fed my creativity in aspects that I could never have imagined. I’m now more excited than ever to be back in Johannesburg to work on The Lesson at The Market Theatre with a brilliant cast and team.” concluded Greg Homann
The comic-drama’s contemporary resonances are clear – it captures the headiness and absolute power of oppressive and toxic patriarchal forms of knowledge production on unsuspecting innocents.
Don’t miss this funny, breath-taking and chilling look at what happens when power, knowledge and culture collide.
PRODUCTION INFORMATION CREATIVE TEAM
Adapter and Director: Greg Homann
Assistant Director: Nana Pooe
Lighting Designer: Nomvula Molepo
Set Designer: Wilhelm Disbergen
Sound Designer: Vangile Z. Mpumlwana
Costume Designer: Onthatile Matshidiso
Stage Manager: Bongani Motsepe
Graham Hopkins as Professor
Fiona Ramsay as Marie
Lihle Ngubo as Student
Season: Sunday 9 October – Sunday 30 October 2022
Venue: The Mannie Manim
Performance times: Tuesday – Saturday @19h00 and Sunday @15h00
Ticket prices: Tuesday – Thursday R90
Friday – Saturday R150
Sunday – R130
For further information, interviews and images, contact: