Unusual Bones., presents Jessie, Die Man en Die Maan, an original work by Kanya Viljoen, starring Carlo Daniels. Jessie, Die Man en die Maan tells the tale of a young man, AB, that loses both his wife, Jane, and their son, Jessie, to the ‘moon’.
What initially started as a big love between AB and Jane, turns into a marriage of pain and misuse, over the years. Specifically when Jane falls pregnant and develops Pelvic Girdle Syndrome, a condition that could lead to paralysation in extreme circumstances, within the pregnancy. The little boy, Jessie, is born on a full moon, an occurrence that AB’s father warns him about. Throughout Jane’s frustration with her paralysed body, anger and resentment festers within the relationship, leading to a night where the couple becomes physical with one another, with AB pushing Jane and accidently causing her death. It is within this moment that Jessie starts to unravel, searching for his mother within the moon, a place she often told him stories about. For years it becomes a struggle between a man, his son and the moon. A fight which AB eventually loses.
“The play is an exploration of people on the peripheries of society – men and women who never receive the privilege of working through their trauma, as they try to survive and make ends meet. Men and women we pass on street corners, or hollow spaces. Men and women that pass trauma from one generation to the next. In the work, the moon becomes a symbol of prayers and answers; of people lost who continue to stay with us; of larger rhythms and destinies that we can only understand in retrospect.” – Kanya Viljoen
The piece is performed as a one hander and makes use of minimal sets and props. It uses the physical language created by the performer and to tell a story of loss, mourning, the intricacies of gender-based violence and mental health.
Themes of mourning, loss and looking-for-answers-bigger-than-ourselves in objects-bigger-than-ourselves, are all faced in the play, but so too in our daily lives. These themes and realities have become even more present during the Covid-pandemic, where isolation, loss and a search for answers, were encountered globally.
The script was written and developed as part of the Jakes Gerwel Writing Residency in Somerset East in the Eastern Cape. Amy Jephta served as the script’s mentor. It was then scheduled to debut at the Jong Sterre programme at the Suidoosterfees. After two years of development, the play debuted at the Free State Arts Festival in October 2022. There it was nominated as the Best National Debut and Best Trailblazer.
Unusual Bones. a collective of creatives founded by Kanya Viljoen and Emilie Badenhorst, seeks to question and explore the human spirit in South Africa. The vision of Unusual Bones. is to gently command a change in the social attitudes of South Africans through gutsy, honest, and excellent stories, amplifying the ‘othered’ voices in our local community.
Jessie, Die Man en Die Maan
Toyota US Woordfees (Lückoff High School): 12 - 15 October 2023
Written and Directed by Kanya Viljoen
With Carlo Daniels
Choreography by Ananda Fuchs
Produced by Unusual Bones.
Stage-Managed by Amber Fox-Martin
Development Support by Jakes Gerwel Foundation, Nationale Afrikaanse Teater Inisiatief (NATi), Suidoosterfees and UCT’S Centre for Dance, Theatre and Performance Studies
Available online via Quicket.