Moving slowly, Lwasi Mayeki shifts his body to hunch over and dangles one arm uselessly. He fixes us with a squinting eye, then starts a soliloquy from Richard III. When he reaches the line that “dogs bark at me as I halt by them”, you know that Mayeki knows how it feels to have dogs bark at him, too. This is Shakespeare for the homeless, playing out in a shabby building in Kapteijn Street grandly marked Hillbrow Theatre. It no longer looks like a theatre, with flats above and hawkers outside, but magic is happening in the basement. A group of men are rehearsing to perform at St James Preparatory School in Jeppestown and for a paying audience at Piza e Vino restaurant in Melville. In the collective recitation of a poem, their strong voices beat out the rhythm in unison. Then they individually recite a poem or a piece they have penned themselves, powerful and emotive as they capture destitute lives on the city streets.

Their group, Johannesburg Awakening Minds (Jam), was formed...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now