• Lance-Selae August

Kudu - A work of strong transcultural activism

Kudu, a stage play at the intersection of intra-racial politics is set to leave audiences shook. The production raises the broader theme of land ownership. This bears significant relevance to the present-day conflicting political climate in South Africa, and is a paradox to the motion tabled in Parliament for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The production was first staged at Magnet Theatre in November 2016, and received critical acclaim. Set in the year 2030, Kudu tells the story of the AmaXhosa nation who attempt to utilise land in the Eastern Cape for their own prosperity. Drama unfolds as three Khoi descendants migrate to the very same land. Will the Khoi successfully claim what is rightfully theirs? Can these tribes find common ground amidst their adversity?

Of course, due credit must be given to the artists who made this work possible: Kudu was written and is directed by Lwanda Sindaphi. The story however, was created in collaboration with the original cast. Performing, we see Beviol Swarts, Emmanuel Ntsamba, Livie Ncanywa, Luthando Mvadaba, Lwando Magwaca, Natasha Gana and Zizipho Quluba. KUDU, hybridised in nature encompasses technicality above and beyond typical theatre, and carries out a narrative rich in song, dance and ritual.

To gain greater insight into the creative vision of this production, we had a chat with Sindaphi, a Magnet Theatre graduate, who is also currently doing advanced theatre studies at UCT.

Could you elaborate on the collaboration process? Where did the idea for Kudu stem from?

Creating KUDU was a very deep personal journey. It involved me discovering my Khoi heritage. To a great extent the play attempts to show the dynamics between coloured and black communities, and the racism between these two oppressed groups. The collaborative process started with conversations about not so easy to speak about, topics. Once we put the work on the floor, it became easier.

What do the themes of land, the importance of culture, languages and spirituality mean to you? How does it influence your work?

Land is an issue that many privileged people do not understand. Land brings you identity. We have to liberate ourselves, and conquer the status quo. We cannot fight the enemy with his tool, we have to re-find ourselves. In terms of spirituality, I want to tackle the way rituals are portrayed. These themes mean a lot to me, and as a result I want to strive to create work that is very vocal, politically.

What are you hoping audiences would learn from this piece?

I want audiences to engage in conversation about these themes, rather than praise the work. We are part of a community. We are all interconnected. We are all part of these issues whether we are victims or perpetrators. We should become activists of these issues.

The design was done by Asiphe Lili. Visually, the set is made up of earthy elements such as sand, fire, smoke, make-shift fences and mountains. Its lighting design is vibrant and hybrid. Together, the duo of realistic set and hybrid lighting makes for a very realistic work. The production is politically unapologetic and intellectually courageous. It questions whether people are freely able to reclaim their land, customs, culture and spirituality. It also calls for the oppressed to fight for acknowledgement of their existence. It moved me, deeply.

Kudu shows at the Baxter Theatre Centre’s Flipside Theatre, until 10 March at 19:30 nightly. There are additional performances at 11:00 and 14:00 on selected days. More details regarding the latter, and tickets are available on the Baxter Theatre Centre’s website, box office, and through Webtickets.

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