The Mother of all Eating (… and the looting continues!)

The Mother of all Eating  (… and the looting continues!)

Contemporary and highly creative theatre directors, Khayelihle Dom Gumede and Phala Ookeditse Phala, tackle a 30-year-old timeless play The Mother of All Eating written by prolific playwright Zakes Mda. The play will be staged at the Market Theatre as part of the 45 years celebration from 16 March – 11 April 2021.

Zakes Mda’s satirical masterpiece set in Maseru, Lesotho (and first performed at the Sechaba Hall of the Victoria Hotel in Maseru in 1992), explores the debilitating culture of corruption and greed known as ‘eating’. A culture which has become synonymous with corrupt state officials who enrich themselves by abusing government funds.

Although The Mother of all Eating is over 30 years old, it remains as tragically relevant today as when it was first staged. Mda meticulously penned a seminal take on how systemised corruption, becomes normalised and embedded, how it imposes a steep cost on society, easily dwarfing that of street crime. He reveals how an emphasis on the individual as evildoer misses the point that systems and individuals are mutually reinforcing.

Mda’s timeless classic centres on a character called ‘The Man’, the principal secretary to a government minister. The Man is corrupt to the core, and has enriched himself as he has moved through the ranks of government. The play exposes the catastrophic effects of greed and the tragic effects that accompany unchecked corruption.

Wilfully performed by South African legends, Vusi Kunene and Thulani Nyembe, this contemporary take is an exhibition of every facet of the classic stage actor. A visual and narrative feast that will have audiences confounded by ironic laughter and melancholic reflection as the play peals away at the disease and dis-ease of the global themes of greed, corruption and classism. While the play is a triumph on stage, it speaks to our fundamental failure to heed the warnings and lessons, etched in the classic narrative of the abuse of power.

Dom has had the great fortune of directing over a dozen professional productions for the stage include the award-winning production, ‘Crepuscule’, co-director of ‘Milk and Honey’ and co-directing of the acclaimed ‘Tsotsi: The Musical’. He was also the Theatre Curator for the Inaugural season of ‘The Centre for The Less Good Idea’ Founded by William Kentridge. He is also an internationally published academic and playwright.

Phala is the Animateur at The Centre for the Less Good Idea, an interdisciplinary incubator space for the arts, based in Maboneng, Johannesburg. He is a multi-award-winning storiyer in the form of a theatre-maker and director whose works have won awards in South Africa, USA, Czech Republic and Australia.

There is no silver bullet for fighting corruption. South Africa has been riddled with corruption scandals since the days of apartheid to the current dispensation. The current inquiries into State Capture and PPE’s misappropriation illustrate the insurmountable financial mismanagement and corruption that cripples the government’s capability to deliver services to its citizens.


Writer: Zakes Mda
Co - Directors: Khayelihle Dom Gumede and Phala Ookeditse Phala:
Set Designer: Onthatile Matshidiso
Assistant Set Designer: Antonie Adams
Lighting Designer: Nomvula Molepo
Costume co-ordinator: Phumelele Dlamini
Stage manager: Zandile Mawane

Vusi Kunene
Thulani Nyembe

Volley Nchabeleng
Age Recommendation: 13
Season: Tuesday 16 March – 11 April 2021
Venue: The Barney Simon Theatre
Performance times: Tuesday – Saturday @18h00 and Sunday @15h00
Ticket prices: Tuesday – Thursday R90.00 Friday – Saturday R150.00 and Sunday R130.00

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