Acclaimed playwright Nadia Davids and director Jay Pather, once again team up for the world premiere of her latest play, Hold Still, at the Baxter Flipside, for a limited season, from 7 to 19 November 2022, at 7pm, with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.
The production also brings together a stellar cast and creative team, starring Andrew Buckland and Mwenya Kabwe, with Tailyn Ramsamy and newcomer Lyle October. The creative team, led by Jay Pather (director), comprises Patrick Curtis (set design), Neo Muyanga (sound design) and Angela Nimov (costume design).
Hold Still tells the story of a family shaped by different generational traumas who must confront their own histories to get through a single, life-changing night. The multi-themed play focuses on a long-term marriage and through it, examines the limits of middle-class empathy, the complexities of an inter-racial, intra-cultural family living in the shadow of catastrophic political histories, and what we’ll do to protect those we love.
“For the last several years I’ve been struggling with what it means to be a ‘good person’, with what it means to be a responsible, active citizen and with how ordinary people are expected to respond to these catastrophic times,” says Davids. “Hold Still comes out of an on-going argument I’ve been having with myself about my own limitations in this regard, about wanting safety in an unsafe world, about the impulse to withdraw when what’s needed is engagement.”
Set against a contemporary cosmopolitan London, rife with xenophobia, the fear of the stranger is a steady theme throughout the play. Rosa and Ben Feigel (played by Kabwe and Buckland) are a progressive, dynamic, North London couple. She’s the daughter of South African exiles, he’s the son of a man who escaped on Kindertransport. Their teenage son Oliver (October) - full of a political conviction his parents have encouraged - decides to hide a vulnerable person, his best friend and an asylum-seeking teenager (Ramsamy), in their home. As the night unfolds, Rosa and Ben must grapple with what their response to Oliver’s actions reveals about their marriage, their histories, and how it tests their image of themselves.
The play’s genesis lies in Davids’ years in London when the refugee crisis hit, and Brexit was gaining traction. She was dismayed by the government’s response and deeply moved by stories of ordinary people extending themselves to support refugees. She started to think about all the histories of immigration that London contained and how her own family history was shaped by movement - both enforced and chosen.
She explains, “A story began to form for me about a couple who prided themselves on their left-wing principles, whose own families had endured unspeakable histories of political and racist trauma - South African apartheid and the Jewish holocaust - who were themselves the children of refugees, of exiles, of people who had to hide in order to escape - and I began to wonder, how would they respond if they discovered a refugee in their home? Would it trigger courage or fear in them?”
Davids is a writer and theatre-maker. Her plays At Her Feet, Cissie and What Remains, have been staged locally and internationally and between them have garnered 12 Fleur du Cap awards and nominations. She is widely published in South Africa and her work has appeared in the LA Review of Books, BBC and CNN. She is the current President of PEN South Africa and hosts the literary-political podcast, The Empty Chair.
Davids and Pather’s production of What Remains received five awards and seven nominations at the 2018 Fleur du Cap awards.
Pather is a choreographer, multi-media artist, curator, writer and teacher. He is Professor at the University of Cape Town where he directs the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA). He is curator for the Infecting the City Festival; the ICA Live Art Festival, the Afrovibes Festival (The Netherlands); Spier Light Art (Cape Town), co-curated the Africa 2020/21 Season (France); Body, Image Movement (Madrid), and has curated Live Art for Zeitz MOCAA and the Spielart Festival in Munich.
Andrew Buckland is no stranger to Baxter audiences, having recently performed with Sylvaine Strike in the hit production, Firefly. He was also seen in Lara Foots Life & Times of Michael K and The Inconvenience of Wings.
Mwenya Kabwe is a theatre maker, performer, educator, creative facilitator at the UCT’s Centre for Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies (CTDPS). In 2019 she directed Koleka Patuma’s No Easter Sunday for Queers at The Market Theatre and in 2021, she co-directed Women of Owu for UCT’s Centre for Theatre Dance and Performance Studies’ 4th Final Year Acting Students, at The Baxter.
Tailyn Ramsamy is a BA (Honours) UCT graduate in Theatre and Performance who performed in Macbeth, Shakespeare’s R&J, Richard III, Out of Bounds, Hamlet and PAN. Newcomer Lyle October, also a UCT BA (Honours) graduate in Theatre and Performance, was seen in student productions such as Waiting, Sophiatown, Kinnes, Vloeibare Moed and Women of Owu.
Hold Still is made possible through the support of the City of Cape Town and the Rolf Stephan Nussbaum Foundation.
The production runs for a short season from 7 to 19 November 2022, at 7pm with matinees at 2.30pm. Book for the Early Bird Special before 24 October at R125, for performances from 7 to 11 November 2022 only. There is an age restriction of 13 years.
Booking is through Webtickets online at www.webtickets.co.za/baxtertheatre or at Pick n Pay stores. For blocked bookings contact Leon van Zyl on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021 680 3972 or Carmen Kearns on email@example.com or call 021 680 3993.