Original Research

Paul Slabolepszy’s angst-ridden Elvis

M. van Deventer
Literator | Vol 21, No 1 | a448 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v21i1.448 | © 2000 M. van Deventer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2000 | Published: 26 April 2000

About the author(s)

M. van Deventer, Department of Connmunication Sciences, Technikon Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Paul Slabolepszy is a popular South African playwright whose plays are enjoyed by diverse multi-cultural audiences in South Africa and all over the world. Slabolepszy’s special appeal lies in his ability to reflect in his plays an authentic South African landscape with its stormy political background, diverse cultures and inhabitants, and to evoke empathy for all of his characters within this South African milieu through a variety of comic techniques. The play, The Return of Elvis du Pisanie, first performed 10 years after Slabolepszy's breakthrough play, Saturday Night at the Palace (1985), is apolitical and focuses on the plight of a white South African male. This popular play’s appeal is universal for Slabolepszy throughout evokes empathy by comically reviving with superb conviction the nostalgia of the Elvis-era, which most people are able to understand and even identify with. Through humour which is comic, sensitive and insightful, he is able to evoke empathy for his angst-ridden main character, the typical “bloke-next-door". His combination of a surreal dimension with comic humour and pathos is able to make us laugh and even wipe away a tear in this way he also intensifies our feelings of empathy for his believable and identifiable protagonist, as he takes us on a nostalgic journey through the fifties to the present, with the legendary Elvis Presley functioning as the binding force.


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