Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Hen’s number was up, says iMumbo Jumbo director

The director of a play which aroused the ire of animal lovers when a chicken was slaughtered on stage two weeks ago says he does not regret the killing.

”The issues here are more multi-layered and complex than the sensationalists would have us believe,” says Brett Bailey in a letter published in the Cape Times on Monday.

He says the sacrifice of the hen on the final night of his play iMumbo Jumbo two weeks ago was not intended as a publicity stunt. His theatre company had in the past conducted ceremonies with ”sacrificial offerings in appropriate circumstances”.

The four sangomas performing in iMumbo Jumbo had faked the chicken sacrifice during the run of the play, but Bailey says this ”felt phoney”.

”It (the slaughter) had to be done: the last performance had to be real,” he says.

”So while I am sorry that the event offended some people, I do not regret that it was performed.”

Bailey says the difficulty with a theatre is that boundaries can blur, and something which is intended as a cultural sacrificial offering may easily be seen as merely a stunt.

”The stage implies a certain way of regarding what is presented on it … As an artist I take on the role of pushing boundaries: the boundaries of society and of my self to open up images and to investigate them. To promote debate. The theatre, like an art gallery, is a safe place in which to do this. In an over-sanitised world it is one of the few places left to us where such testing should be encouraged.”

However, in a letter published on the same page, thespian Pieter-Dirk Uys says, with reference to the slaughter, that professional theatre ”has no place for amateur theatrics”.

Western Cape Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) chief inspector Shaun Bodington said on Monday that his organisation was ”in the process” of developing a formal docket and charge in connection with the incident.

”We are just gathering all the facts, information and statements,” he said.

The SPCA would consult with its legal representatives on Tuesday on the details of the charges.

iMumbo Jumbo follows the quest of Chief Nicholas Gcaleka who travelled to Britain in 1996 in a bid to retrieve an ancestral skull. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

R350 relief grant will be paid into bank accounts or...

There are concerns that post office branch closures will make it difficult for beneficiaries to access the grant

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

More top stories

Do South Aficans prefer prayer to vaccines?

According to an Afrobarometer survey of 1 600 people, the majority of people do not trust the government to deliver safe vaccines

DA chief whip Mazzone’s complaint against EFF’s Paulsen to be...

Parliament will conduct a formal hearing into what transpired in the National Assembly in March between EFF and DA MPs

Ford Everest Sport: Reclaiming the essence of the SUV

The new Ford Everest Sport reminds us of what we want from a big family carrier

Companies affected by unrest can apply for support as soon...

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi urges employers to be honest when applying for help

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…