The Work-in-Progress Theatre Company

I have called my collection of plays, WIP  (Work-in-Progress) Theatre Plays, the name of the company under which many of them were produced.

Several WIP Theatre plays were performed at the Hermit, a Theatre and Restaurant in Hermitage Street, off Smith Street, near the Durban Bay.   The loft above the restaurant had been turned into a small theatre with a seating capacity of about 200.  It was a non-racial theatre that offered opportunities to black and white theatre workers in the 1980s.  John Dennen, the owner-manager of The Hermit, who ignored apartheid regulations, provided an affordable venue that made it possible for a number of actors, directors and playwrights on the fringe to present new and indigenous work. Mbongeni Ngema's Asinamali was staged there and Garth Anderson produced plays upstairs and revues downstairs in the restaurant. 

The Hermit Theatre was the home of The WIP (Work-in-Progress) Theatre Company in 1982 and 1983.  Coming Home, Outside-In and a new production of Three for Tea opened there. Of No Account, We 3 Kings and Masks opened at other venues.

In 1983, WIP Theatre Company, became involved in the campaign against the President's Council's Proposals for a new constitution and a Tri-Cameral Parliament.  The Masterplan, a satirical revue about the new proposals, written at the request of the Natal Indian Congress, was performed at mass meetings. When The Masterplan was banned in September 1983, two new revues, Chicken Licken and Allan's Coon Carnival, replaced it.

Nobody's Hero was written in 1987 in the era of mass detentions, especially of children.

Luci's Dilemma  (1982) and Flight from the Mahabharath, (early 1990's) have never been performed.

Muthal Naidoo

March 2008