Scene It: Mpinga Mornings brings a new dawn of must-see theatre

June 22, 2015

Refreshing and emotional poetry in motion is the only way to explain Debi Hawkins’s performance in the must-see production, Mpinga Mornings, currently running at the Rosebank Theatre.


Under the tutelage of phenomenal director Coleen van Staden, Hawkins brings to life the story of three interconnected women – a mother, a daughter and maid, whose lives are bound together by a farm and a common history.


Slipping between characters at remarkable pace that never feels rushed nor forced, Hawkins introduces us to Kate, a young mother living in London homesick for her family and childhood farm upbringing; Jane, her strong and inspiring mother still living in Zimbabwe and Gracie, her beloved childhood maid and nanny.


The Rhodesian Civil War through to the land invasions and economic collapse is seen through their eyes, telephone conversations and Hawkins’ amazing singing, giving us a glimpse into the various tragedies these women have suffered because of it. Sons lost as casualties of the war, horrific hate crimes; the constant threat of harm and more – no sensitive topic is left untouched and the audience is forced to deal with them up close.


No, this isn’t warm, fuzzy feel-good Friday theatre viewing and it isn’t meant to be – watching these three dynamic women attempt to carry on with their lives in the midst of a war-torn world should jar you and leave you emotionally raw, and it does.


I’ll admit that my knowledge of the Civil war was somewhat limited until seeing Mpinga Mornings but the gamut of emotions Hawkins conveys in her three personas deeply affected me and made me determined to know more. 


Loss is an emotion we can all understand and should try to help each other deal with. When actors educate their audience, it’s a sure sign of success!


A simplistic set designs provides the backdrop for all of the action and you can as easily imagine sipping cup of tea with Kate in London whilst worrying over Jane and Gracie‘s fates back at the homestead. I also found the plastic floral arrangements set throughout the theatre and its socializing areas as a homage to Jane’s overwhelming love for her rose garden a particularly sweet and poignant gesture. Rosebank Theatre truly immerses itself into whichever production it’s showing at the time and it’s a clever trick for utilizing its small space.


Hawkins and van Staden bring a new dawn of must-see theatre to Cape Town in Mpinga Mornings and it is a MUST-SEE!


Mpinga Mornings runs at the Rosebank Theatre until Saturday 27 June, 2015. Tickets are R 120 and are available at Webtickets.

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