This year the plethora of offerings at the prestigious Artscape New Voices Programme in October, range from a matric farewell after party going horribly awry with dire consequences to questions on God and sexuality, and from deeply personal stories of survival to indelible scars as a result of past political involvement in the fight for justice. These are some of the subjects tackled in a programme that celebrates new voices – voices from first-time writers like Siyasanga Vumani to a celebrated voice like Gertrude Fester’s. Throw into the mix Kaulana Williams and Caitlin Wiggill: two post-graduate drama students with their fresh takes on issues pertaining to the younger generation, and the scene is set for brave new voices and interesting theatre experiences for audiences.
This year will see three staged readings (with only ONE reading per play) and one full-length production that will run for ten performances. Directors include Tara Notcutt, Fatima Dike, Dara Beth and Lee-Ann van Rooi, with stellar casts for each of the productions. See the summaries of each of the productions below:
The staged reading on Tuesday, October 1 in the Artscape Arena at 7.30pm is The After Party by Kaulana Williams, directed by Lee-Ann van Rooi.).
Five teenagers get into a car accident on their way from their Matric Dance to the after party. The car has gone off the road and crashed into a tree in a dark and remote part of town. One teen is thrown from the vehicle and is badly injured. Disoriented and injured, the other four must figure out a way to get help for their friend and themselves. But, with all of their cell phones damaged or trapped in the wreckage, and no landmarks or signs of humanity visible in the dark, their options become increasingly bleak. Tensions flare, nerves unravel and the teens become distracted by their frustrations and anger. While they are out looking for help, a stranger discovers their unattended friend, steals the teens’ belongings from the wreckage and rapes her. All hope of finding help disappears as the teens return to the scene and discover what has happened. Their dreams of a fun and exciting Matric Dance After Party have turned into feelings of limbo, fear, desperation and guilt…who or what is to blame for this disaster?
Next up, on Wednesday, October 2 in the Artscape Arena at 7.30pm is the staged reading of Kwakhanya by Siyasanga Vumani, directed by Fatima Dike.
Kwakhanya is a touching and sad story about a young lady who lost her mother while she was giving birth to her and her grandmother then raised her. Her grandma died when she was in grade 10 and she was forced to move to relatives. Her life was very difficult because of aggression and abuse. Kwakhanya had to stay strong because she had nowhere else to go. After writing her final high school exams, she decided to run away from home. She met a guy who gave her a place to stay until the universities re-opened where she studied Accounting (CA). She got her degree, got married and moved on with her life but the past still haunted her. Finally, she decided that the only way to heal from the anger of the past was to face her perpetrator and get answers to every question that she had as a child in order to make sense of her future.
On Thursday, October 3 also in the Artscape Arena at 7.30pm is the staged reading, Look Alike Terrorist by Gertrude Fester-Wicomb, directed by Dara Beth.
This one-woman play captures experiences of a woman en route to Rome via Istanbul. On arrival at Istanbul, an announcement instructs that all passports be produced. At the exit of the plane, officials give cursory glances at passports and immediately return them. When it comes to her turn, the officer gives her passport a superficial glance and keeps it. Perplexed, the woman stands dutifully to wait. Nothing happens. She reflects whether she has done wrong. She ponders on her experiences as a black woman. She tentatively enquires what the problem is. Ignored by the officials, a barrage of conversation (in Turkish, she assumes) commences. Later several officers surround her and she is taken into a little room. The play captures her anxiety and her reminiscence on past experiences, including solitary confinement where her powerlessness predominated. How does this jaunt end?
The full production, God is a Woman, written by Caitlin Wiggill and directed by Tara Notcutt will then run from October 5 to 12 in the Artscape Arena nightly at 7.30pm, with a matinee performance on Saturday, October 12, at 2pm.
In God is a Woman, André has been asking himself who he is, and who God is. His mother, who struggles to believe in God, his grandmother, who believes in a ‘Mama God’, and his best friend, Amanda, who wants to believe in God, surround him. Andre’s mother is a dressmaker and in helping her complete a wedding dress, Andre cannot disregard the inescapable feeling that he isn’t who he has been assumed to be. Three generations are forced to confront their reality as they navigate past traumas. The women share intimate memories as one night from the past links them together. This is the night of Andre’s birth, during which the town flooded. Through retellings of this memory, it is revealed that Andre’s mother wished for a girl when he was born. Andre’s navigation of transgender identity forms the emotional core of the text, whilst the figure of a ‘Mama God’ guides the women’s relationships to real belief and to each other. Maybe God is a woman, and maybe God and Andre are not so different after all.
The readings are free (limited seats available) and tickets for the full production (God is a Woman) cost only R60. Book at Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat on 021 421 7695.
To RSVP for the Staged Readings, email: firstname.lastname@example.org