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Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause

By 27th February 2020March 17th, 2020Events

Have you ever watched Night at the Museum? Well if you haven’t, beware the spoiler, the museum exhibits come to life! And that’s what PhD student, Stephanie Jenkins, is attempting to do with her theatre piece, Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause, taking place at our very own KwaMuhle Museum next month.

‘Museum theatre’, as it’s known, is typically performed in a museum, but can also refer to performances that take place in other public spaces, such as zoos, art galleries and historical sites. The theatre can consist of a variety of forms, but most commonly involves a first person interpretation of the actual people and events displayed in the museum which is the site of the production.

Durban’s first beer hall in Victoria Street, now Bertha Mkhize Street

In Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause, Jenkins will be examining some of the events that took place in the KwaMuhle Museum when it functioned as the Department of Native Affairs, which was responsible for issuing the much hated passbook, or ‘dompas’. Some of the other exhibits at the museum, such as the replica beer hall, and living quarters of migrant labourers, will also form part of the theatre, to be performed by actors who will guide the audience from room to room.

Jenkins’ thesis aims to examine the effectiveness of museum theatre in teaching, questioning and learning about history. As such, up until now she has focused on school children, specifically those learners in Grade 11. However, next month will see the museum opened up to the public for two special performances of Beer Halls, Pass Laws and Just Cause, taking place at 12h00 and 14h00 on the 14th March. Admittance is free, but booking is essential.

To reserve your place, please make contact with Stephanie Jenkins via WhatsApp on 081 846 7331.

Images courtesy of, and