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Media Statement by Professor Brian Pearce, Associate Professor in the Drama & Production Studies Department at the Durban University of Technology DUT

The Department of Drama & Production Studies at the Durban University of Technology will stage The Proposal, a one-act, three-hander farce by Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright who is considered to be one of the greatest dramatists in theatre history.

The performance will be held at the DUT Courtyard Theatre, Steve Biko Road, from Monday (August 12, 2013) to Friday (August 16, 2013) at 18h00. Directed by Professor Brian Pearce, Associate Professor in the Drama & Production Studies Department at DUT, the play – written in 1888-89 – is set in Russia in the late nineteenth century.

“It (the play) concerns a man in his thirties (Lomov) who attempts to propose to a woman (Natalya). He visits her father and explains his intentions. Unfortunately, in the process of making his proposal, a row ensues which develops into a further row. One gets the sense that marriage will be a permanent state of conflict. The play is a comedy and the characters are extremely intense and take themselves far too seriously. In our production, we’re trying to retain the flavor of the original (production) in terms of costumes and setting,” said Prof Pearce.

Chekov’s work is associated with the Moscow Art Theatre, the director Konstantin Stanislavski and the Naturalist movement in theatre history. Chekov was a medical doctor who, during his university years, developed his skills as a writer, financially supporting his family in the process. After practicing medicine, he took to writing as a profession. He lived a short but highly productive life and wrote a number of famous plays, including The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

Prof Pearce said his Department will feature The Proposal as part of its productions because Chekhov is one of the most important dramatists, and it is of value to their students to encounter his work.

“I have wanted to direct Chekov for many years and I at last saw an opportunity to direct this play as it fitted in with our schedule. It is a short play with only three actors. I hope the audience will find the play extremely amusing. The whole situation of a man having to make a proposal is still relevant to us today, it is still a cause of stress and anxiety towards both men and women and seeing a situation where a proposal goes wrong can be quite cathartic for an audience,” said Pearce.

The students acting in the production are Buhle Mazibuko, Tevin Kunene (both third-year Drama Studies students) as well as Kagisho Tsimakwane, second-year Drama Studies student.

Costumes are designed by Elishah Eswardutt, a fourth-year student in the Fashion and Textiles Department at DUT. “We are grateful to Nirma Madhoo-Chipps, a Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles Department for initiating this collaboration,” said Pearce. Theatre Manager, Mthandazo Mofokeng will undertake the lighting design while Cwebile Mkize, a second-year Drama Studies student is Stage Manager.

The performance will take place as follows:

Date: 12 – 16 August 2013

Time: 18h00

Venue: Courtyard Theatre, Gate 7, Ritson Campus, Steve Biko Road

Parking: Safe parking is available at Gate 4, Steve Biko Campus, opposite the Courtyard Theatre

Tickets: R20 per person

Kindly confirm your attendance with Lebohang Sibisi via email:

Issued by:
Sinegugu Ndlovu
Communications Manager
Durban University
031 373 2845