Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer – through their company A&M Productions – will be premiering their new work, Contested Bodies or Doctor James Barry, Lord Charles Somerset and I described as “an explosive re-interpretation of some familiar Cape colonial history in an outrageous, new comic play”, at 18:00 (6pm) on Wednesday 16 March 2022 at the ARTSCAPE Arena Theatre.
Following the successful STAND-TADA-SADA fundraiser with A&M Production’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Abrahamse and Marcel have offered the opening night of Contested Bodies to the three organisations as a joint fundraiser again. Since COVID-19 regulations still restrict audiences in the Arena Theatre to 50, STAND, TADA and SADA will take the second night of 17 March (18:00) as well, with a total of 100 tickets to support the work of these organisations on the one hand, and 50% of the ticket sales going to A&M Productions on the other.
Contested Bodies concludes the Abrahamse and Meyer Summer Season, which kicked off in November 2021 with an acclaimed staging of Yukio Mishima’s The Lady Aoi and continued through February with a sold-out Tennessee Williams’ repertory of A Streetcar Named Desire and One Arm.
Almost seven years to the day after political activist, Chumani Maxwele, flung human excrement at the statue of British Imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, Abrahamse and Meyer will do some faeces flinging of their own in their latest “outrage for the stage” – a thrilling, provocative entertainment that is likely to be the most controversial and contested play of the year.
Contested Bodies explores themes of power, race, gender identity and masculinity (toxic and otherwise).
The play centres on the relationship between acclaimed surgeon, Doctor James Barry, his African manservant, John and the then, Governor of the Cape Colony, Lord Charles Henry Somerset. Barry lived his entire adult life as a man but was named Margret Ann at birth and was known as female in childhood. Barry’s biological sex only became widely known to the public and his colleagues after his death in 1865.
In Contested Bodies, things get down and dirty in the Governor’s residence when the three men decide, as part of their evening’s entertainment, to enact a lewd and lascivious play penned by the ultimate libertine and provocateur, the salacious Marquis de Sade. The enactment of the De Sade play reveals many unspoken truths and recalibrates the men’s friendship and relationship with each other.
This volatile “comedy-of-very-bad-manners” stars Matthew Baldwin as the tempestuous Doctor James Barry, Marcel Meyer as his good friend, Lord Charles Somerset, and introduces local audiences to up-and-coming young actor, Lungile Lallie as Barry’s trusted manservant, John.
Apart from being shocking and sensational, Contested Bodies promises to be a stunning, visual feast with a sumptuous scenic design by director Fred Abrahamse, detailed period costumes by Marcel Meyer, and moody lighting by award-winning, Faheem Bardien.
Please note Contested Bodies is strictly intended for adult audiences only and carries an 18 age-restriction. The play contains scenes with strong language, nudity, violence, prejudice, and sex: [SL/N/P/S].
Tickets for the opening performance on Wednesday 16 March – the world premiere of the production – are R250 each, and for the performance on Thursday 17 March, they cost R200 each.
To purchase tickets, go to www.standfoundation.org.za, click on the Make a Donation button, and pay for the tickets you want using the relevant amount or inserting your own amount. Multiples of R250 or R200 will indicate the night for which you are booking. Your tickets will be available for collection on the evening of the performance in the foyer of the Arena Theatre at ARTSCAPE.
For more information or queries, write to email@example.com