'The Fall': A play about when Cecil John Rhodes fell

As youth month winds to an end, South Africans have been reminded of the role of young people in galvanising change in the play showing now at the State Theatre.

FILE: The controversial statue of Cecil John Roads sits on the back of a truck before being driven off the University of Cape Town campus on 9 April 2015. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Quick! You have four days to catch The Fall at the State Theatre in Pretoria before the final curtain call on 24 June 2018.

The play, which is based on the student protest calling for the removal of Cecil John Rhodes’s statue at the University of Cape Town, boasts a small cast of seven youth who put on a sterling performance throughout the show.

As youth month winds to an end, South Africans have been reminded of the role of young people in galvanising change.

While this period is used to reminisce and remember the tragic events of the Soweto uprising, in our very recent past the country was gripped by the wave of university students calling for free higher education, the end of outsourcing and decolonising learning - among others.

The play is well thought out, going even into the dialogue that happened on the periphery of the greater cause; Afrophobia, homophobia, toxic masculinity, rape culture and classism.

WATCH: UCT Trans Collective storms Rhodes Must Fall gallery launch

Azile Ndleni, a former Stellenbosch University student who took part in the protest, says the play depicts exactly what happened at the time.

“Watching this was like, ‘I remember when that happened, I remember when we went to Parliament'. I think it’s like a time capsule and I think that it’s important for people who weren’t there to see how the mass meetings went.”

Sizwesandile Mnisi plays a character accused of patriarchy in how he expressed his views at the meetings.

As the country grapples with gender-based violence and femicide, Mnisi says his character portrays the pain of black communities due to the history of displacement and migrant labour.

“We need to address that black pain as men. We [men] need to start meeting and literally digging deeper. Men are not taught to reflect and introspect, they act out and express themselves on the outside… and I think it is important in trying to change in our society for men to contribute in a positive way.”

The medley of poetry and singing is chilling and brings forth the pain, fear, determination and frustration that was felt by students at the time.

Several times members in the audience nodded profusely and hummed along.

It is truly captivating and worth the trouble.


The play has been performed to critical sold-out success at the Baxter Theatre Centre (two seasons) and recently at the Edinburgh Assembly Fringe Festival in Scotland.

It has received the 2017 Fleur du Cap Special Encore Award and most recently the prestigious Scotsman Fringe First and The Stage cast awards at the Fringe Festival and amassing five-star reviews along the way.

Cast members: Ameera Conrad, Oarabile Ditsele, Tankiso Mamabolo, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana, Cleo Raatus and Zandile Madliwa.