Red Earth

Performed by: Laway Arts

No director listed

No playwright listed

Every year a stork migrates from the lush Dutch landscape to the deep warm South of Africa. He knows lots of stories. One of which is the true story about Nongqawuse, a 15 year old Xhosa girl that radically changed the history of the Xhosa people. One day Nongqawuse comes back from the river. She tells that the ancestors appeared to her with the prophecy that the dead will arise, the white people and unbelievers will be driven into the sea and the once powerful Xhosa people will be as strong as before. To make this happen they have to kill all their cattle and burn all their grain. This prophecy brings hope to the people. They are tormented by colonial wars and mysterious cattle diseases. But it also brings discord among the Xhosa people, manipulation and betrayal and in the end a terrible famine. Everyone points at Nongqawuse. But was she really the cause of the disaster that ensued? Maybe this mystery can never be unravelled. Everyone has his interpretation of the facts. Will a bird with homes in both hemispheres ever be able to understand?

Red Earth is a co-production with Speeltheater Holland and premiered in Grahamstown 2006 and was later performed in the Netherlands more than 200 times. In 2013 Red Earth will be on tour in South Africa.


50 minutes
Recommended Age:
12 years – Adult
Recommended Grade:
Grade 8+ No max grade set
English (first language) / Xhosa (second language)
Curriculum Connection:
Creative Arts, Design, Dramatic Arts, History, Music, Social Sciences, Visual Arts
Themes Covered:
Choices, Creativity, Cultural diversity, Death, Discrimination, Fate/Free Will, Heroes, Identity, Imagination, Intra/interpersonal conflicts, Loss, National/global conflicts, Racism, Relationships, Religion