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The Kwasha Theatre Company Brings Boris Vian's THE EMPIRE BUILDERS' to Life With Audio Play

This binaural audio play, which takes the shape of 3 episodes of 20min each, will be available as a free and open access online experience.

The Kwasha Theatre Company Brings Boris Vian's THE EMPIRE BUILDERS' to Life With Audio Play

Sit comfortably (whether you find yourself in a chair, a couch, a bed , in a park, a library, at home, in South Africa or elsewhere), plug in to your headphones, connect on and get ready for an audio journey that will bring you straight into the shrinking apartment of a strange family with "The Empire Builders".

Boris Vian's "The Empire Builders", by Kwasha! Theatre Company, is an audio experience produced by an exceptional team of creatives, and brought to you by the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), and the Market Laboratory.

This binaural audio play, which takes the shape of 3 episodes of 20min each, will be available as a free and open access online experience via throughout the month of February 2021. This online experience is an ideal way to enjoy a theatre play despite the current lockdown restrictions.

With sound captured and designed by celebrated sound designer Yogin Sullaphen, the piece promises to create a crisp and exciting world to take the audience on a journey within their own imaginations. The process of directing such a play has been quite experimental for director Dintshitile Mashile, as the recording took place on a real theatre stage, with actors performing in costumes. Mashile recreated the sensation of a shrinking space, playing with a delineated space on stage which gave birth to a whole atmosphere that used the actors movements, choreography, props and sound effects to enhance the audiences imagination and sense of space. The binaural recording gives the audience a sense of the space and dimension with sound recorded by two microphones and transmitted separately into each ear.

"The play as an audio production presents us with an opportunity to give audiences at home some much needed entertainment as the lockdown restrictions continue. We hope that this will be something that safely adds to our audiences' days at home", says Rudy Motseatsea, manager for the Kwasha Theatre Company. It is further planned that the project will reach audiences through partnerships with schools, other theatres as well as community organisations and radio stations, and that these options will be available to partners past the month of February.


The Empire Builders is an Absurdist tragi-comedy based on Vian's childhood experience of the Nazi occupation; and written at a time when French colonialism in African and Asian territories was coming to an end. The play tells the story of a middle class family that is threatened by an unusual noise forcing the family members to ascend through their apartment building to progressively smaller rooms, leaving behind all the comforts they once enjoyed while maintaining a façade of calm and denial.

While the family is constantly on an upward run, their world is increasingly narrowing; floor after floor, members of the family mysteriously leave or vanish. "The play addresses themes such as alienation, selfishness, self-deception, prejudice, memory, masculinity - & the incomprehensibility of existence and meaning", explains director and Kwasha Theatre Company member, Dintshitile Mashile.


The Kwasha Theatre Company have had the opportunity to really push their boundaries and innovate from all sides this year, working consistently throughout the year to produce work in various mediums from Zoom to Stage. "The collaboration with Kwasha is about more than simply producing a work for audiences to enjoy. We are also investing in young theatre makers and their skill set in this collaboration, so it is fantastic to see how the medium pushes the performers and director to discover new ways to connect to audiences", says Selen Daver Cultural attaché at the French Embassy in South Africa.

The creative team becomes greater adding the skills of Karina Lemner and Mpho Malesa as dialect coaches, working specifically to ensure that the story and medium come seamlessly together. Together with the 5 performers talents, direction from Dinthitile Mashile and design from Yogin Sullaphen, the audio experience should take audiences on a journey that not only forces some introspection, particularly about the past year and the structure of our societies, but entertains while doing so too.


The website release includes an image gallery with documentation of the process as well as stills from the production by Oscar Gutierrez. Audiences are encouraged to simply listen or browse the production stills to enhance their experience of the world created with "The Empire Builders". Listeners can enjoy the 3 episodes all at once, or come back to the experience in episodes.

Tune in to "The Empire Builders" anytime through out February by clicking through from both the IFAS ( and The Market Theatre ( websites, or directly on

The experience is free but donations are encouraged. More details on supplementary online experiences, or how you can sponsor the experience reaching schools and communities will be released in January 2021.

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