• Lance August

#CTFringe17 – The Citizen

The Theatre Arts Admin Collective in Observatory was ablaze with excitement of artists, academics and common audiences a like. The cold and windy Cape Town weather was not strong enough motivation to keep the energetic audiences asunder. The production, The Citizen, is staged as a part of the 2017 Cape Town Fringe Festival, and we had the opportunity to see Ngwekazi Makaba, Zureal Malebaco, Nthabiseng Phelani, Amanda Cele, Mpho Mashego and Bonnosi Maimela perform.

The Citizen, directed by Qiqa Nkomo, was performed by an amateur (yet astounding) cast of six young ladies, who are students at the University of the Western Cape. They are a part of The Edu-Drama Collective, a directive of the Gender Equity Unit, at the University of Cape Town. The Gender Equity Unit hosts activities and programmes that are geared towards making sure that no one is discriminated against, harassed or hurt, because of his/her/their gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The group also aims to facilitate the empowerment of particularly women, and other marginalized groups, both at the University, and within society at large.

The Citizen is a powerful production collectively devised by the members of the Edu-Drama Collective, developed to address concerns associated with being a black woman in South Africa, and Africa as a whole. The cast delivered powerful monologues that spoke to women involved in the liberation struggle, issues that were of less concern than the bigger issues of human rights. The production proved that inequality exists between men and women, and are set on advocating for change. It asked the critical question of what it means to be a citizen, and explores citizenship within various economic, political, cultural and social spaces.

Among the other issues that the production addresses are rape culture, and the sexist practices in many African customs. The production also questions religion, its purposes, its methodologies and how it indoctrinates its followers. The Citizen showed audiences that femicide, which is the intentional killing of females through hate crimes, is becoming a trend, and the notion of privilege and black excellence, and how these result in the formation of classist structures, became a subject of contention and heated debate in a question-and-answer session which followed post-performance.

The production used minimal costumes and props, in what is termed ‘props of the imagination’. These talented artists were able to visualize and convince audiences of the stories that they were portraying. Before the performance, the cast were positioned on stage in protest-like blocking, and as audiences sat down, one could sense that The Citizen would be a thought-provoking piece of work that would protest to the issues that it successfully raised awareness of.

The Citizen is staged as a part of the Cape Town Fringe Festival, and has a few opportunities left to further mesmerize audiences and make them think about this concept. It will be performed on 1 October 2017 at the Zolani Sports and Recreation Centre in Nyanga, and on 3 and 5 October, at Makukhanye Art Room in Khayelitsha. Tickets are available at www.capetown-fringe.co.za or by contacting 0860 002 004.

#protesttheatre #feminism #capetownfringefestival #capetowntheatre #universityofthewesterncape #genderequityunit #CTFringe2017 #nationalartsfestival #qiqankomo #thecitizen #feministtheatre #citizenship #lifeorientation #rapeculture #studentprotests #QiqaNkomo

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