Woza Albert! Performing Christ in Apartheid South Africa

Keywords: Protest Theatre, Apartheid, Woza Albert!, Market Theatre, Hans Urs von Balthasar


This article investigates the important South African anti-apartheid protest play, Woza Albert!, written and performed in 1981 by Percy Mtwa and Mbogeni Ngema, which retells the story of Jesus Christ so that it takes place in apartheid South Africa. The article begins with a historical overview of how the play came into being, followed by an exposition of the play’s script, specifically focusing on the way it reimagines the gospels’ account of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The article finally engages theologically with the play (with the help of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theological dramatic theory), in an attempt to see why Woza Albert! has proved to be such an effective literary tool in speaking out and protesting against the injustices of the apartheid state.