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Onstage: 2008-09

The Syringa Tree

Written by Pamela Gien

Directed by Debra L. Freeberg

In the Gezon Auditorium

On April 23, 24, 25 and 30, May 1, 2

At 8:00 p.m.


The Syringa Tree is much more than just a memory play. It is a powerful, deeply moving story of an enduring love between two South African families beginning in the early 1960s—one white, one black. Two young women growing up in the same South African household experience and witness numerous acts of aggression, sacrifice, and love. Spanning four generations, the story is told through the perspective of Elizabeth Grace. First as a six year old child, and then as an adult with a daughter of her own, Elizabeth tries to make sense of the chaos, enchantment, and danger of South Africa.

Winner: OBIE Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award, Outer Critics' Circle Award

CautionThe Syringa Tree is not suitable for young children.

The Cast

Elizabeth Grace, 6 to adulthood, white, English South African
Leighanne Sturgis
Loeska (Lucia) Hattingh, 8, Elizabth’s friend next door, Afrikaans
Kaile Steen VanOene
Salamina Mashlope, 39, Xhosa, Grace family maid, nanny to Elizabeth
Cheryl Brown
Eugene Grace, early 30s, Elizabeth’s mothern
Emily Howell
Dr. Issac Grace, late 30s to 70s, Elizabeth’s father
Chris Hageman
Moliseng Elessebett (Elizabeth) Mashlope, Salamina’s child, birth to 14
Anica Jeremie
Iris Kgobane, 19, Sotho, nanny to Elizabeth’s new baby brother, John
Erika Faasen
Peter Mombadi, 40s, Grace family driver
Chandler Bland
Zephyr, late 60s, Zulu, Hattingh family gardener
Benjamin David
John Grace, infant to adult, Elizabeth’s baby brother
Branden Rudie
Dominee Hattingh, 52, Dutch Reformed Minister, father of Loeska
Andrew Szobody
Pietros, Sotho, Grace family help
Chandler Bland
Dubike, Salamina’s very old cousin
Mark Jackson
Matron Lanning, Baragwanath hospital matron
Kendra Wassink
Young Doctor, at Baragwanath hospital
Branden Rudie
Granny Elizabeth, early 70s
Kaile Steen VanOene
Grandpa George, 82
Buck Weglarz
Sargeant Potgieter, a police officer
Branden Rudie
Father Montford, a Catholic priest
Andrew Szobody
Andrew, Elizabeth’s American husband
Chandler Bland
Mrs. Biggs, spry for her 70s
Kendra Wassink



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The Syringa Tree