We share one history but so many different perspectives about it that have been lost through the years - the effects thereof on three interconnected women are what the powerful Rust Co-Operative production, Siembamba, explores during its run at the Artscape Theatre's Arena.
A multi-lingual memory play following the story of a black domestic worker and the white child she raised in the 1980s, Siembamba looks at the two forging an intimate mother‐child bond at a time when they were socialized to hate one another. The play stars Nieke Lombard as the white child and Lesoko Seabe as the domestic worker.
Whilst the complex relationship between the two main characters takes centre stage and moves the audience to tears, the truly heart-wrenching tale is that of the domestic worker‘s daughter ,the child she left behind to raise her employer's.
For every birthday and important occasion the domestic worker spent with her charge, she missed her own daughter's key moments, turning them into virtual strangers over the years. The daughter's bitter disappointment and sense of abandonment are keenly felt, particularly because it's a topic still so relevant in 2015. How many of you know of domestic workers who hail from the Eastern Cape or Nambia, with children they've left behind to earn a salary in the Western Cape so that they can support them? When they are inevitable fired or retired, it is difficult for the mothers to re-establish relationships with the children they abandoned.
Lombard, whom I last saw on stage in the children's show My Forever Friend at the Baxter Theatre in December 2014, retains that childlike wonder in Siembamba. Seabe, though, is the true wonder, effortlessly moving between aged domestic worker to ambivalent Madame and wounded daughter, with a simple costume change and stance adjustment. Her heartbreak at being childless, when both of her "children" have deserted her in her twilight years, is palpable .While she has birthed one child and mothered another, neither are hers in truth. Seabe's is a performance you can't help but resonate with.
Written and directed by Penny Youngleson and Philip Rademeyer, Siembamba forces us to open our eyes to the injustice done to black women and their families back in the 80s and to this very day. On the night I saw the show, there were plenty of choruses of "Yes!" whenever the unfairness of the situation was raised - a sign, no doubt, that our country is still miles away from healing over these ancient hurts.
This gem of a show, which won a 2014 Standard Bank Silver Ovation Award and was performed at the Amsterdam Fringe Festival, is just one of the must-sees on the programme of the Artscape Heritage Festival and is a must-see!
Siembamba runs at the Artscape Theatre until Saturday 12 September, 2015. Tickets are R 80 and are available at Computicket.
WIN tickets to Siembamba!
Keen to see this amazing show with a friend on Saturday 12 September, 2015? We have a set of double tickets up for grabs - Simply post a comment on our Facebook post about why you'd love to see Siembamba to be in line to win. Winners will be announced on Friday 11 September, 2015 at noon.