The Vulture Photography project celebrates and supports the work of South African theatre-practitioners. We showcase and feature various aspects of the South African Theatre industry, from stage productions to awards ceremonies and festivals. Accompanied by Performing arts Photography, the project aims to give our readers a descriptive and visual experience of the local theatre industry.

Race, privilege and identity explored in (w)asem

January 19, 2018

(w)asem, a production directed by Du Toit Albertze and featuring Terence Makapan, had a  showcase at this year’s Cape Town Fringe Festival.  Prior to the staging of the production’s last performance (which we were all too glad we caught), there was an open and transparent platform in which the audience felt comfortable to interact with each other. Upon arrival, we were all invited to draw our names and faces on balloons, which would eventually form part of the performance. The production was staged at multiple Cape Town Fringe venues, but concluded their journey at the P4 Studio, at UCT’s drama school, Hiddingh Campus.

 

 

The production was collectively written by Albertze and Makapan, however, Albertze undertook the role of director, and Makapan braved the stage. The story follows a young man who is maneuvering his way his way through issues of sexuality, class and race. The narrative speaks of the frustrations that he encounters on a Metrorail journey, and he enlightens the audiences about his life and circumstances through monologues depicting familiar scenarios.

 

Among other themes, the production also touched on the challenges students face in academia, and how many South African citizens are oblivious to racism that occurs frequently. Satirical references are made to the public transport situation, especially in the rail sector. But more pertinent is the theme of queer relations, and how who identify as LGBTQIA are forced (by society) to mask their identities. The production implies that South Africa is a bureaucratic nation and its bureaucracy suppresses the masses. These are reiterated through the use of poetry sporadically throughout the storyline.

 

(w)asem’s plot allowed for audience inclusion, through the use of balloons. These balloons seemed to be a metaphor for the hustle and bustle that occurs within all societal contexts on a daily basis. The script shows a level of technicality that Makapan performed with ease, with instant code-switching (of languages), which reflected on the diversity of the population, especially within the context of the story. The script is also filled with language devices, and the use of accents which reflects on the strength and accuracy of Makapan as a performer. A job well done.

 

 

The production makes use of a lighting design that is paced by Makapan’s craft. Lighting states are switched with the snap of a finger. The sound design draws on familiar sounds that stem from popular culture. The production concludes with an audiovisual reference to a racial incident that occurred on the Cape Winelands in 2017, and uses this to reinforce the notion that there is racial inequality in South Africa.

 

(w)asem makes its comeback at the Alexander Bar upstairs theatre, on 15 - 20 January 2018. Tickets can be purchased through the Alexander Bar website, or at the venue. 

 

“Te wit om ‘n comrade te wees. Te swart om aan tafel te sit”.

 

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