When Swallows Cry South African premiere

Mike Van Graan, one of the leading contemporary playwrights in South Africa, was a participant of Ibsen International’s Next Text-New Stage project.


Photo by Suzy Berstein 

Over a period of nine months in 2015, Van Graan and other seven playwrights from around the world developed their respective scripts during three organized workshops in China.

The completed production of When Swallows Cry, written by Mike Van Graan during this project made its South African premiere at the Market Theatre in January 2017. This latest work delves into the uncomfortable but topical issue of ‘foreigners’ and the global migration crisis – a Somali attempting to enter the United States legally; Zimbabwean refugees seeking asylum in Australia; and an American Aid worker held for ransom by Boko Haram affiliates in Kenya.

This play sees overwhelmingly positive reviews from multiple critiques. The following excepts from these reviews added resonance at the current time of rising xenophobic rhetoric and hate crimes across the United States and Europe.

“There is a desperate need, in my view,” Van Graan said during the interview for Scènes Critiques December Issue 2016, “for alternative theatre structures to emerge that recognize the inter-relatedness of privilege and exploitation, inclusion and exclusion, haves and have-nots, and that seek to address these as theatre-makers, as active global citizens and as human beings.”
http://www.critical-stages.org/…/theatre-can-play-a-more-p…/ )

“Broken values, smashed dreams and theatre with devastating balance”
Published on Jan 18 2017, written by Robyn Sassen

Seldom do you get to feel privileged enough to experience a play with not only electric relevance to the brokenness of our current global society, but one which also brings together such a rich collaboration of skills that it shines from every direction.

When Swallows Cry aims high
Published on Jan 16 2017, written by Jennifer de Klerk

Most powerful, in my view, is the angry half-mad Kenyan commandant, raging about slavery, the sins of the past, a greedy, corrupt government and the exploitation of resources that still denies locals hope and a future. Not easy to examine such a complex topic in a play. Van Graan succeeds in what was surely his intention – turning numbers into people.

When Swallows Cry – a crying shame
Published on Jan 19 2017, written by Lesley Stones
The script delivers a lot of truths without moralising or preaching, and it’s riddled with humour and a tangible humanity.