The Orange Earth | Drama Texts, Plays & Screenplays
This drama, a lyrical and dreamy but at the same time searingly painful piece about reminiscence and injustice, was written in 1978, in the heyday of apartheid and two years after the Soweto uprising. It has been staged several times, but this is the first time it has been published. It is essentially a piece of resistance theatre, but its artistic strength and lasting relevance lie in the way it demonstrates how painfully intimate resistance and loyalty are entangled.
The Orange Earth is regarded as Small’s most personal literary work; he himself described it as a fictionalised autobiography. The title of the text is in fact the name of the hamlet near Robertson where Small grew up. The drama tells the story of a coloured man who plants a bomb in a supermarket and is then prosecuted and jailed for this deed of terror. During the trial and in his prison cell he has an ongoing conversation through flashbacks with the past, specifically the key moments that determined his identity and his resistance. The climax of the drama is a conversation – a confrontation – in the prison cell in which the detainee, his wife and his father, as well as the Afrikaans warden, participate. This climax revolves around the perception that the captive and warden are separated but also joined by that which determines their respective identities.
What is at stake is our language, our church, our land. It is therefore very significant that this drama, is now also being published in Afrikaans (Goree). The writer’s protest against his subjugation by his language compatriots hereby becomes confirmation of a fundamental loyalty.