What is London Road, Sea Point?
It is a play about two women who under usual circumstances would probably not get to know each other but in this rare situation do and form a beautiful friendship. It is a play that has won over the most theatre-averse of audience members. It has reduced macho South African men to tears. It has had audiences leaping to their feet all over South Africa. We have received hundreds of honest, heartfelt letters about how the play has made people reflect on their own relationships with their parents, children, grandparents and far-flung friends and relatives.
What about Sea Point?
Sea Point is the highest density neighbourhood of Cape Town – “flat-land” in an otherwise sprawling city. Sea Point defied the group areas act during apartheid so in the eighties it offered a glimpse of the possibility that people different races could live together side by side. Around the same time apartheid was ending, Sea Point went through an economic slump as the Waterfront development took all the tourist restaurants away. In the late nineties parts of Sea Point got really “ghetto”. Residents rallied and there was a property boom. So things improved a bit. Now people from a wide range of economic classes call Sea Point home, from waiters to investment bankers, from sex workers to television executives. It boasts that very rare thing in South Africa – a well-used public space. Its promenade is safe and beautiful and used by old and young, black and white, night and day. Its Main Road is uglier and more functional. While other neighbourhoods in Cape Town have ‘hipsterfied’ with alacrity, Sea Point has been sluggish to gentrify. Despite the concentration of people many of whom have a high disposable income, there are but a handful of good restaurants, the bars are mostly dives, the shops mostly selling cheap Chinese goods. People who live in Sea Point love the place, despite it being a little unfancy, a little rough around the edges.
Why London Road?
The real street of London Road became a symbol of white fear in the late nineties. Some of the blocks of flats in London Road had been hijacked by gangsters. In the early 2000s London Road changed and got cleaned up. Many of its residents have lived through these changes. The different generations of London Road residents have many stories to tell. This play, this story, is just one such story. There are many London Roads in the world. London Road, and Sea Point, are the world of this play. It is an urban story, a story where the close contact of humans is affected by the ebb and flow of urban life, and these flows are in turn affected by the movement of people around the continent and the world, now and in the past.