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New play 'Dusk' tackles mental health and racial issues

Michelle Douglas. Loyiso MacDonals. Picture: Suzy Bernstein

Michelle Douglas. Loyiso MacDonals. Picture: Suzy Bernstein

Published Aug 6, 2021


When Loyiso MacDonald announced his departure from Mzansi Magic's The Queen to pursue “other endeavours”, little did he realise that the move would lead him back to his first love: theatre.

Eight years after setting his foot on the theatre stage, MacDonald is set to star as Kgotso in Dusk. He shares the stage with veteran actress Michelle Douglas as Tessa.

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Directed by the award-winning Palesa Mazamisa, Dusk is a mysterious story of murder and memory, set on a farm in rural Limpopo.

This production by Mark Scheepers tackles issues of mental health, abuse, racism, land reclaim, violence, and ultimately the power of forgiveness.

In a recent chat with MacDonald and Douglas, the dynamic duo expanded on the subject matter.

“The play tackles burning issues in our country ... issues like mental issues, specifically as a result of trauma. I think there's so much trauma in this country at the moment," Douglas said.

"But the show isn’t difficult to watch ... It's like watching a good story that you're removed from and at the end, hopefully, the possibility of ’saying maybe there can be healing, maybe we can move on’. That's an hour of escapism.

“It's really about love. The love between family members, love between siblings and parents. And seeing how those things can be tainted by trauma, specifically. It's also about coping and how we choose to cope with life in general."

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Echoing MacDonald’s statement, Douglas said her character uses prescription drugs to cope with her loss, and she hopes that the character will inspire conversation around "the abuse of prescription medication".

She added: “What really matters at the end of the day is our humanity. It doesn't matter what colour, race, gender, sexuality, language ... at the core of each of us is our humanity. And that's the point where we can reach out to each other."

MacDonald says transitioning to the theatre space nearly a decade later wasn’t such a big challenge.

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“Theatre is the space that really formed me as an actor because I started in theatre. So it always holds a special place in my heart, and to be working on such a special piece is really an honour,” he said.

“It hasn't been too much of a shift, to be honest. I think the process is still the same. It's rehearsing and coming to grips with the script... the process hasn't changed. It feels just like I remember. It's a lot of hard work and but it's good. At the end of the day, it's very satisfying.”

Elaborating on the show, MacDonald said: "This is a very South African story. I think any South African would understand exactly the situation that Tessa and Kgotso find themselves in.

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“I’d like for people to be able to walk away from the show with a little bit more empathy for the world around them because we're all dealing with so much, and especially now, with Covid on top of everything else.

“It ties back to that age-old saying, ‘No man is an island’. And, really, I think that captures the essence of this show.”

Dusk premiers at the Market Theatre on Friday, August 6, and runs till Sunday, August 29. Tickets are from R90. For more information visit