Out & About

January 24, 2013

Segal Centre presents 'Waiting for the Barbarians'


“And in the process of the occupation they change the whole nature of the town,” Podbrey said.

The army soon begins to rule with a brutal hand.

“The magistrate tries to deal with this new consequence and falls victim to it himself,” Podbrey said. “The narrative continues with the magistrate, who tries to understand himself in a changing situation.”

The project was suggested to Podbrey by Marine, who first adapted the work into his native Russian. Podbrey said the initial response in modern Russia, where the play was to debut, proved quite interesting.

“It was more interesting than Marine thought. In fact, they got a bit nervous about it. Apparently they take their politics quite seriously,” Podbrey said.

Possible ruffled feathers meant the Russian adaptation was postponed. Podbrey suggested a translation back into English to be staged in Cape Town.

“Which would be a natural place for the play.”


The adaptation was submitted to Coetzee for approval, and the work got a green light. It was presented at the Baxter Theatre Centre in April 2012. The Segal cast is the same South African cast who originated the work.

Adapting such an abstract novel into a staged political thriller “was a hell of a challenge,” Podbrey said.

“When you read the novel, you can’t imagine how it would adapt to the stage,” he said. “It’s got fantasy and intense psychological elements with a narrator who weaves in and out of the story with great subtly.”

Podbrey admitted he was amazed at the result.

“I wouldn’t have known how to do it myself. I’m full of admiration for Marine’s version,” Podbrey said. “I just hope the audience is enlivened by the experience.”

“Waiting for the Barbarians” is presented Sunday, Jan. 27, through Feb. 17.


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