Third World Bunfight

Third World Bunfight

THIRD WORLD BUNFIGHT (‘TWB’) is a performance company that has maintained its position at the forefront of South African performance throughout its nineteen-year history.

TWB presents the diverse works of South African artist, Brett Bailey: theatre productions, installations, operas, house music shows, and site-specific performances. His idiosyncratic, iconoclastic works focus a probing lens on the world we live in; in particular the post-colonial landscape of Africa, and the historical and contemporary relations between Africa and the West.


- Exhibit B  READ MORE
- Macbeth  READ MORE
- Sanctuary  READ MORE

The company has a mission to create and present innovative, multi-layered, deeply considered performance and installation works of excellence, both locally and internationally; works that reveal the beauty, the wonder, the darkness and the tragedy of our world.




A sensuous, poetic and thought-provoking dance-music-theatre piece, based on the powerful Old Testament hero myth of domination, betrayal and rebellion, and set in a dystopian contemporary context of political extremism, inequality, human displacement and violence.


The biblical story of SAMSON is a compelling, if bewildering, tale of humiliation, romance, betrayal and violent revenge (Judges 13 – 16). It recounts the struggle of a mythical strongman who is anointed by the Hebrew god to liberate his people from their Philistine overlords. Following a series of victories, he is betrayed into the hands of his enemies by Delilah, a Philistine woman, who seduces him into revealing that his power resides in his hair. Blinded and jailed for several years, he is finally exhibited within the royal court, but his hair has regrown, his power is restored, and he brings down the state in an act of apocalyptic self-immolation.

Scouting for a new work a year ago, I reflected on how the Greek tragedians extrapolated stories from their sacred myths and harnessed them to speak to contemporary issues. I trawled the bible for stories, eventually settling on SAMSON: it clicked with me. But grappling to find the myth’s resonance within our moment of history, to understand what it wants to say through me, has been a tough journey. I was the curator-mentor of the 2-month block for the M.A. program of DAS Theatre in Amsterdam (formerly DAS Arts) this year, and, in preparation for SAMSON, I put the focus of the block squarely on the power of mythology and how we artists can harness this in our work.

Beyond the violence and the heroics of the myth, I find a great deal of sadness in the story. A central theme of the work that I am making is loss: of home, of self, of faith, of so much fragile beauty to the blind forces of avarice. My interpretation brings the tale crashing into the 21st century, and orders it within the concerns I have around migration, intolerance, colonialism, and oppressive capitalist policies. It draws on my fascination with shamanism, ritual, the repressed and the non-rational.

SAMSON, which will premiere in Cape Town in March 2019, will be a richly visual work of theatre, contemporary dance and electronic music: the escalating drama unfolding like a dream. It makes use of ensemble singing, text, opera (Saint-Saëns’ ‘Samson and
Delilah’), experimental electronica and the deep bass of dubstep.

I am figuring Samson, the character, as an avatar for the repressed rage of those people that have been trampled by expansionist forces for centuries. His archetypal rage manifests in his dance. The role will be choreographed by one of South Africa’s most celebrated dancer-choreographers, Vincent Mantsoe, whose shamanic spiritual orientation infuses his work.

The live electronic music score is by award winning South African jazz and electronic musician-composer, Shane Cooper; performed onstage by a 4-piece outfit.

There are 10 performers on the stage: the 4 musicians (some of whom play minor roles within the drama), a chorus of 4 singers (who double as characters, and include an opera singer who plays Delilah), the narrator, and a dancer-actor who plays Samson. 

The offstage crew is 7-strong: technical director, sound engineer, video engineer, lighting technician, director, stage manager and company manager.

The travelling company is 17 people.

The work is made for a conventional theatre stage, with back projection onto a 7m wide screen. The distance between the screen and front of stage is about 4m. There must be enough space behind the screen for the video beamer to fill the screen. Setup time is 2
days. The theatre size is not important. 

We begin rehearsing in January in Cape Town. I’m putting together a great team of artists.
I have a good feeling about this work.

Co-produced by WOORDFEES and the NATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL, South Africa