Musical negotiation of segregated place in Cape Town: District Six: The Musical. Paula Fourie (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Starting in 1986, the partnership between a white English-speaking South African, David Kramer, and a “Coloured” Afrikaans-speaker, Taliep Petersen, produced some of South Africa’s most commercially successful musicals to date. During Apartheid, artistic collaboration between members of different race groups was politically significant. Their first project, District Six: The Musical, dealt with the forced removal of certain population groups from this neighbourhood following its designation as a white area. This production, which was understandably problematic to the Apartheid-government, played to over 350 000 people in its initial three-year run, at times drawing together mixed-race audiences. Its controversial reception is reflected in the banning of four of its tracks by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Set in a local context, the music of this production perhaps surprisingly reflects an overriding engagement with American popular music. This paper explores notions of musical “authenticity” in a country marked by contested race identities and investigates the role of District Six: The Musical as protest theatre aimed at bridging racial divides through the facilitation of “collective” experiences revolving around remembrance of and identification with marginalized narratives.
The paper explores the Kamer-Petersen collaboration District Six The Musical through a Heideggerian lens. Paula’s presentation opens with a historical overview of the genuine and perceived history of District Six itself (partly perceived as a ‘place without apartheid’). The first two musical examples are Ghoemaliedjie “Daar kom die Alibama” and Nederlandsliedjie “Rosa”.