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Sizwe Banzi is Dead, directed by the renowned Peter Brook, opens at New World Stage International Performance series

Toronto, Wednesday, April 11, 2007- Harbourfront Centre’s New World Stage International Performance series presents a universal story of identity, Sizwe Banzi is Dead, Bouffes du Nord (France) and it comes under the direction of the highly acclaimed Peter Brook. The play, delivered in French with English surtitles, runs April 18-22. All performances (90 min.) take place in Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre located at 231 Queens Quay West. For information and tickets contact the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-73-4000 or online at www.harbourfrontcentre.com/nws .

Sizwe Banzi is Dead, an apartheid-era classic, was created at a time when it was required that every black South African citizen over the age of 16 carry an identity book. The play, devised by acclaimed playwright Athol Fugard in collaboration with two African actors, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, continues to resonate these 35 yearslater. Sizwe Banzi is Dead is the second of three Statement Plays created by Athol Fugard. These pieces are considered to be part of the series of 'Township Plays', based on the everyday life of the urban black community in South Africa during Apartheid.

Sizwe Banzi is in desperate need to provide for his family. The problem lies in that his passbook contains the wrong information and this prevents him from finding work. In concert with his friend Buntu, they discover a corpse lying by the side of the road, and the idea of lifting the dead man's papers might provide the ability to work. An engaging and humorous production of beautiful simplicity. This memorable, moving and deeply human production, touched with a sense of humour, garnered three Tony Award nominations and was voted Best Play at the London Theatre Critics Awards.

Time magazine proclaimed Athol Fugard one of the world’s greatest living playwrights and credited the moral power of his plays as taking a significant role in forcing the peaceful end to apartheid. The New York Times described Sizwe Banzi is Dead as “A joyous hymn to human nature.” And, the New York Post called it, “Hypnotic…Overwhelming compassion…Powerful.”

In a triumphant return to Toronto, celebrated director Peter Brook, recognized for his innovative stage techniques, continues his investigation of the role of theatre in political situations of repression, focusing on themes connected with identity, humanity, truth and survival. London born (1925) and Oxford educated, Brook is highly-regarded as an English stage and motion-picture director, recognized for his contributions to the development of 20th-century theater. Brook directed many productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company beginning in 1962. He started creating “stagings” while in his late teens in London. As his career continued, so too did the stature of his works and the people he directed including Sir Alec Guinness (Vicious Circle) and Paul Scofield and John Gielgud in the 1953 production of Venice Preserv'd. He was astute in advancing the experimental theories of German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold and Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, just noting a few. Some of Brook’s noted theatre productions include Marat/Sade, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1978’s Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest in 1987 and 1992’s Pelléas and Mélisande.

In 1970 Brook founded the International Centre of Theatre Research, in Paris, to explore the fundamentals of historical and worldwide drama. His international company presented experimental productions, including The Ik (1975); The Conference of Birds (1976), a Persian fable; Ubu Roi (1977); The Cherry Orchard (1981); La tragédie de Carmen (1983); The Mahabharata (1985), a nine-hour adaptation of the Indian epic poem; and Qui est la?, a 1996 adaptation of Hamlet. Brook's talent also carries over to motion pictures, some of which are also experimental in nature, include The Beggar's Opera (1953), Lord of the Flies (1963), Tell Me Lies (1968), King Lear (1971), La Tragédie de Carmen (1984), and The Mahabharata (1989). Peter Brook has written several books on theater, including The Empty Space, The Shifting Point, The Open Door: Thoughts on Acting and Theatre, and Brook's memoir, Threads of Time: Recollections (1998).

“The sets may be sparse, but any production from Peter Brook, one of our greatest modern directors, is sure to be a wonder to behold.” -- The London Times


SPECIAL NOTE: Peter Brook Talk – Open to Public.
Peter Brook Live On Stage at Harbourfront Centre -FREE

In Toronto for the New World Stage limited engagement of his production Sizwe Banzi is Dead, director Peter Brook takes part in a rare, up-close and personal, “inside the [director’s] studio” discussion. Open to practitioners, students, academics, and the general public, this special one time event will take place in the Studio Theatre at Harbourfront Centre, Monday, April 16th at 6pm. Seating is limited and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors open at 5:30pm. FREE!

Sizwe Banzi is Dead production is supported by Cultures France.
The Westin Harbour Castle is the official hotel of New World Stage.
New World Stage is supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, Luminato Festival of the Arts and Creativity 2007, Canadian Heritage, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

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Media Contact:
Bill Bobek
Media Relations Harbourfront Centre
416-973-4428
wbobek@harbourfrontcentre.com
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