The Stranger
Theatre / Great Hall

THE STRANGER is set in a dystopian contemporary town: humdrum, grinding, materialistic and bigoted. A gifted musician arrives from across the border or from another world; his music is transformational: it unifies people, shifts their priorities, brings the natural world into focus, and reveals an underlying harmony in the universe. Orpheus’ wife is murdered on the night of their marriage, and he journeys to the Underworld to retrieve her. There, in an encounter with a personification of Death, he experiences a reality devoid of duality, meaning, morality and form. The songs he sings on his return are haunted by despair at his loss, and at the unfolding devastation of the world. The work closes with his lynching by a xenophobic mob. 

The work’s primary thematic threads include the significance of myth, the sacred and memory within our lives; the power of the arts to transform consciousness and to imbue our lives with meaning; the fragile, precious interconnectedness of the biosphere; the mystery of life; and the value of outsiders within our societies.

Production Credits

Script, design and direction: Brett Bailey

Music composed by: Nkosenathi Koela

Performers: Nkosenathi Koela, Nico Athene, Zimbini Makwethu, Apollo Ntshoko, Kim Masala + Brett Bailey

Soundscapes: James Webb + Brett Bailey

Sound Technician: Jethro Harris

Production manager: Barbara Mathers




About the Artists

Apollo Ntshoko has been working in theatre since 1985. He trained with Jazzart, and has worked with several companies and directors, including Barney Simon, Alfred Hinkel, Brett Bailey, Mandla Mbothwe, Jaco Bouwer and Janice Honeyman. He has also directed and choreographed his own production, ‘untitled’.


Brett Bailey is a South African playwright, designer, director, installation artist, and the artistic director of the performance company THIRD WORLD BUNFIGHT. He has a post graduate diploma in performance studies from DAS Theatre, Amsterdam. His work sits at the intersection of languages of ritual, performance and beauty, investigating that which causes disquiet.


Mkokeli “Kim” Masala has been playing African instruments since the age of 8. With fellow musicians he formed Abavuki in 2001, a percussion and brass band which would later tour internationally. He has played alongside luminaries such as Dizu Plaatjies, Pops Mohamed, Bongani Sotshononda and Derrick Gripper. He has also toured with iBuyambo, and has featured on SAMA award-winning albums.


Nkosenathi Ernie Koela (Mntana.WeXhwele) is a Ph.D candidate specializing in indigenous music therapies at the University of Cape Town. Using interdisciplinary practice encompassing being an Afrikan multi-instrumentalist, instrument maker, composer, writer, poet, playwright, director, singer, academic and dancer; Koela creates textures of music embedded in Afrikan spirituality. He also teaches others how to play traditional instruments.


Nico Athene is a visual artist specialising in performance, with a specific interest in butoh, contact improvisation and post-Jungian, archetypal psychology (‘psyche’ - ology : ‘care of the soul’). She is interested in the ways we can open the body to its eco-intimate expressions to dialogue with its rituals and animisms. She has exhibited at Kalashnikovv, the AVA, Stevenson, Pretoria Art Museum (among others). She has an MFA from Wits University, and teaches regular classes exploring consent through touch and eco-intimacy.


Zimbini Makethu is an award-winning soundscape, original music designer/director, songwriter, singer, actress, and internationally acclaimed performer born in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape and based in Cape Town.

  • Venue: Great Hall
  • Location: The Great Hall
  • Ticket price: ZAR 150.00
  • Programme type: Curated Programme
  • Genre: Theatre
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Ages: 14+
    • Adult Themes
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