Masterful theatrein Stellenbosch

Brett Bailey. PICTURE: Enrico Mascheroni

It is written, designed and directed by Brett Bailey, and created with the support of The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and the Institut Francais, in collaboration with Woordfees and the National Arts Festival.

Samson is a sensuous, poetic and thought-provoking dance-music-theatre piece set in a dystopian contemporary context of political extremism, inequality, human displacement and violence.

The biblical story of Samson is a compelling, if bewildering, tale of humiliation, romance, betrayal and violent revenge.

It recounts the struggle of a strongman who is anointed by the Hebrew god to liberate his people from their Philistine overlords.

Following a series of victories, he is betrayed into the hands of his enemies by Delilah, a Philistine woman, who seduces him into revealing that his power resides in his hair.

Blinded and jailed for several years, he is finally exhibited within the royal court, but his hair has regrown, his power is restored, and he brings down the state in an act of apocalyptic self-immolation.

Beyond the violence and the heroics, the central theme is loss: of home, of self, of faith, of so much fragile beauty to the blind forces of avarice.

Bailey’s interpretation of the biblical myth brings the tale crashing into the 21st century, and orders it within his concerns around migration, intolerance, colonialism, and oppressive capitalist policies, and draws on his fascination with shamanism, ritual, the repressed and the non-rational.

Bailey has figured Samson, the character, as an avatar for the repressed rage of those people that have been trampled by expansionist forces for centuries.

Earlier this month, Bailey was awarded France’s prestigious Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) (“Bailey receives top award”, Bolander, February 13).

His idiosyncratic, iconoclastic works have been performed by Third World Bunfight internationally and in South Africa, and focus a probing lens on the world we live in; in particular the post-colonial landscape of Africa, and the historical and contemporary relations between Africa and the West.

Tickets cost from R120 to R180, and are available at Computicket, or R200 at the door. No under 16s.