My play ‘Matters of the Heart’ premiered March 14, 2014 at the Soweto Theatre. It was a collaboration with Dinganga Theatre Creations, and was directed by Artistic Director Thabang Ramaila with assistance from Bonginkosi and me.
‘Matters of the Heart’ follows a female taxi driver as she deals with the demands of her family and her job during the course of a single day in Soweto. (Note: In Soweto taxis are mini-buses plying a particular route.) Sebenzile and her passengers struggle to carve out new identities in a rapidly changing world. Tradition and history weigh heavily on their shoulders. They are determined to spare their children the suffering they have undergone, and to contribute to building a true ‘rainbow nation’.
The script interweaves drama and dance, it is thought-provoking but laced with humour. It touches on topical issues for South Africans that are relevant to other countries, for example: unemployment and rising prices, the double shift worked by women who are breadwinners and mothers, prejudice against asylum seekers, gays and lesbians.
The response from Soweto theatregoers was enthusiastic. They laughed, they cried, they applauded individual scenes and gave the actors a standing ovation on opening night.
Dinganga will take ‘Matters of the Heart’ to the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in July, 2014. We hope to bring the production to Ireland and the UK in the near future. If you would like more information, do get in touch.
Thabang and I met in 2007 at the Opera House in Port Elizabeth. We were part of an exchange of artists from the NE of England with artists from the Eastern Cape called 'The Swallows Partnership'. I'd been invited to tutor play-making workshops and offer directorial advice to local companies at the Eastern Cape Dance and Drama Festival. (See my photographs on Flickr.) Thabang was performing with Northumbrian dancer Emma Dunn and musician Paul Keene. We found each other's ideas and values intriguing, and leapt at the opportunity to work together.
A big thank you to Culture Ireland for financial support towards my travel and accommodation costs in 2011. This enabled me to spend a month in Soweto devising, researching and writing with Dinganga.