You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock / Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokotho

A Play
Author(s):
Contributor(s): , ,
  • Publication Date: July 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 190 x 120mm, 12 B&W images; Extent: 128 pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-720-5
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-722-9
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-721-2
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 180.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 20.00

Written and devised by Phyllis Klotz in collaboration with Thobeka
Maqhutyana, Nomvula Qosha and Poppy Tsira

Introduction by Sarah Roberts

Still SA’s most important play, Wathint’… says more about theatre history and the dompas
system, women’s rights and the romance of rehearsing in a toilet, than any formal text. A
brave, rude foray into street life, it shimmers with relevance.
Robyn Sassen, independent critic

The play serves as a reminder of who women are and their fierce determination. They act,
decide and make choices with conviction and resolution in the best interests of ubuntu. They
continue reminding everyone that ‘You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock/Wathint’ Abafazi
Wathint’ Imbokotho, uzokufa’.
Nokuthula Mazibuko, Head of the Institute for Gender Studies, University of South Africa

Engaging storytelling that captures the pathos of the period and of today, as the past
continues to live in our present. It is the best of stylised theatre that is not dependent on
elaborate sets. It is a worthy addition to South African dramatic literature and enriched by
Sarah Robert’s scholarly yet accessible analysis.
Zakes Mda, author and playwright

 

You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock / Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokotho is a bristling example of protest theatre making during the height of apartheid. Created in ensemble fashion in 1986 by director Phyllis Klotz in collaboration with performers Thobeka Maqhutyana, Nomvula Qosha and Poppy Tsira, this play stands as a contemporary South African classic.

The play focuses on three central characters: Sdudla, Mambhele and Mampompo living and working in a Cape Town township trying to eke out a living in a racially, socially and economically unequal world. There are few work opportunities and there is a great deal of red tape to be self-sufficient. Men are glaringly absent from this world – working as cheap migrant labour in urban areas. Women have to undertake great risk to see their husbands and to try keep a semblance of family cohesiveness. Helicopters fly above and state security police surveil the area. The play shows how these women work miracles to ensure the survival and wellbeing of their families at all cost.

Following the famous 1956 slogan of the South African woman’s march against apartheid laws, You Strike a Woman You Strike a Rock / Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokotho, this latest publication in 2021 is a testament to the contemporariness of this play. Its themes around gender activism and the need for gender parity remains as true today as it did fifty years ago. Fresh and full of life, this is an important historical document and will be a landmark play for high schools and students of theatre.

 

Key words: apartheid, 1956 women’s march, human rights, gender equality, workshop theatre, protest theatre

Acknowledgements
Introduction by Sarah Roberts
Images from the play
You Strike A Woman, You Strike A Rock / Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokotho: The Play
Characters in order of appearance
Prologue
Scene 1 The Market Place
Scene 2 The Post Office
Scene 3 The Bus
Scene 4 The Dompas
Scene 5 The Train
Scene 6 The Work Place
Scene 7 The Farm
Scene 8 The System
Scene 9 The Hostel
Scene 10 The Father
Scene 11 The Blockade
Scene 12 The Foreboding Bird
Scene 13 The Student Protest
Annexure: Historical Context: Keywords and their significance
Glossary and translations

Phyllis Klotz  is a writer  and director who has been involved in Development Theatre,
Educational Theatre and vocational training. In 1985 she formed The Young Peoples Theatre
Education Trust, and the Sibikwa Community Theatre Project with Smal Ndaba in 1988. She
has been the recipient of several awards for their contribution to South African Theatre,
including the Naledi Life Time Achievement Award.

Thobeka Maqhutyana attended drama classes at St Francis Cultural Centre in Langa, Cape
Town, before becoming involved in the Community Arts Project from 1984-1985. After touring
extensively with the play Wathinta she appeared in several TV series including the Sibikwa
production of the African opera Ubuntu Bomhlaba. She died in 2002.

Nomvula Qosha performed in the original Wathinta and runs her own crèche in KTC, Cape
Town. She trained at the Waldorf Centre for Creative Education and the Foundation for
Community Workers.

Poppy Tsira is a performer and Wathinta was her first professional stage role. She joined the
Community Arts Project performing arts programme from 1984-1985. She has appeared in
several adverts, films and TV series, and performed in the revival of Wathinta in 2006.

Still SA’s most important play, Wathint’… says more about theatre history and the dompas
system, women’s rights and the romance of rehearsing in a toilet, than any formal text. A
brave, rude foray into street life, it shimmers with relevance.
Robyn Sassen, independent critic

The play serves as a reminder of who women are and their fierce determination. They act,
decide and make choices with conviction and resolution in the best interests of ubuntu. They
continue reminding everyone that ‘You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock/Wathint’ Abafazi
Wathint’ Imbokotho, uzokufa’.
Nokuthula Mazibuko, Head of the Institute for Gender Studies, University of South Africa

Engaging storytelling that captures the pathos of the period and of today, as the past
continues to live in our present. It is the best of stylised theatre that is not dependent on
elaborate sets. It is a worthy addition to South African dramatic literature and enriched by
Sarah Robert’s scholarly yet accessible analysis.
Zakes Mda, author and playwright

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