University of Cape Town: JM Coetzee’s ‘Life & Times of Michael K’ premiers at The Baxter

The South African premiere of JM Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K, adapted for the stage by Lara Foot in collaboration with the Handspring Puppet Company, will run from 28 February to 19 March 2022 at The Baxter Theatre.

Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K, adapted for the stage, was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stringent lockdown restrictions.

This highly anticipated co-production between Theater der Welt festival, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Baxter Theatre Centre and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, brings together some of South Africa’s most revered, multi-award-winning artists.

Written and directed by Foot, it is the largest and most illustrious undertaking by the theatre over the past decade and is the culmination of more than two years of planning. It marks the first time that Foot will be working with the Tony award-winning Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler from the hit production War Horse-fame, along with a formidable cast and creative team.

The impressive South African cast includes theatre legends Sandra Prinsloo, Andrew Buckland, Faniswa Yisa, puppet master Craig Leo, Roshina Ratnam, Carlo Daniels, Marty Kintu, Billy Langa and Nolufefe Ntshuntshe.

Debut and story

The production was invited to debut at the Theater der Welt festival at the Düsseldorf Theatre, Germany, in June 2019; however, the festival was postponed to June 2021 because of the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions. The world premiere was livestreamed from The Baxter to Dusseldorf, and in November 2021 the company travelled to Germany to perform live for the first time, to great acclaim.

Epic in scale, Life & Times of Michael K is a multi-layered theatrical staging that combines puppetry, performance, film and evocative music, bringing to life Coetzee’s Booker Prize-winning novel.

The hauntingly beautiful story follows Michael K, a simple man who embarks on a journey through South Africa, ravaged by civil war, to return his mother to die on the farm where she was born. He finds strength in his own humanity, his profound connection to the earth and his unique path which, as it unfolds, reveals to him his reason for living.

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