“Why do I have to represent a whole race when I just want to represent me?” The Incident is an award-winning play by Joakim Daun that tackles belonging, migration, racism, and power through an intimate love story spanning Sweden and Zimbabwe.
This #NAF18 offering (that takes a post-festival turn in Cape Town at Alexander Upstairs) examines who we allow to belong in our societies and what it means to be an ambitious, non-white woman in a mostly white male dominated society. Daun shares #10TheatreFacts about this story that explores the realities of being in an interracial relationship, and living in a different culture, far from family, support, and tradition.
1. How are you involved with The Incident?
I’m the writer and producer, so I am very involved.
2. Where does the idea for The Incident come from?
The initial idea came from a conversation I had with a Zimbabwean friend at the time who had recently moved abroad to study at a prestigious university in the U.S. I think it was in 2012. She was telling me about the assumptions and stereotypes she was subjected to because she was a black African woman. Our conversation made me reflect over similar issues in Sweden where I grew up. As Swedes we tend to be a bit self-righteous sometimes and I thought this is something we need to talk more about.
3. As a production, what genre of theatre best describes it?
Contemporary intercultural drama.
4. How would you briefly describe The Incident to someone who has no idea what it is about to convince them that this is a must see show?
The Incident is a love story that asks us whether we are ready to stand up for our values when the stakes are raised. It deals with issues that most people don’t want to talk about and will keep you on your toes until the end. Besides that you can expect original Zimbabwean music, Swedish dancing and an award-winning cast. I should also mention that we have a wonderful Zimbabwean Director, Elizabet Zaza Muchemwa.
5. What do you like most about The Incident?
I think it is the amazing collaborations that we have been able to do through in this production. It started with myself, Zoë (Dramaturge) and Thoriso (applied theatre maker) and then our Director Zaza joined. Today we have grown into a bigger team with theatre makers from South Africa, U.S., Zimbabwe, France, Romania, UK, and Sweden. The play is very much about our ability to understand other cultures so it’s very exciting to work together with a bunch of theatre makers from different countries and backgrounds. The play has really evolved from the first draft to what it is today thanks to all these collaborators and people bringing in different skills and perspectives.
6. Who would be the ideal audience member to come see The Incident?
Potentially people who are interested in intercultural theatre that explores love, race, and belonging. But, I’m not sure there is an ideal audience. If you like theatre that deals with real political and social issues in our society today I think you will enjoy it.
7. What about The Incident do you think will fascinate or captivate audiences most?
I’m really excited about our cast, Nikola Ruzicic and Mimi Ndiweni. I first saw Mimi in 2017 in the Convert by Danai Gurira at the Gate Theatre in London where she played Jekesai/Esther. I remember I was blown away by her performance. She then won the OFF-WEST END award in London for that performance. Nikola is an interesting actor who has mostly worked in Sweden before. Having them work together in this intimate play is thrilling. So that’s something to watch out for…
8. Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line from The Incident?
It’s a line that Monica (the female protagonist) says: “I miss having people around me that are all related to me somehow, but I don’t know how. But they all love me..." I don’t know if it’s my favourite line, but I like it. It came from an improvisation we did with the actors for the premiere in Harare in 2017. I like it because I think it says a lot about belonging and what social relationships mean in different cultures.
9. What message or experience would you like the audience to take away from seeing The Incident?
I want them to be moved. I also want the play to raise questions in their minds. Questions about how they see others and how others see them. Hopefully these questions can lead to dialogue between people. Having said that, you can never really know how an audience will respond to a play, but that’s what’s so exciting about theatre.
10. What does theatre as a lifestyle mean to you?
It’s frustration and joy mixed together. One moment you have amazing connections with an audience or creating something new and exciting. The next moment you are hit with a dose of reality trying to make ends meet. There are moments where I have asked myself, ‘why am I doing this?’ The good thing is I tend to forget those quickly and keep working. You need lots of resilience. I try to make sure I have supportive people around me who are not in theatre. That keeps me sane.
Venue: Rehearsal Room
Dates: 2 & 3 July
Director: Elizabeth Zaza Muchemwa
Written by: Joakim Daun
Dramaturge: Zoë-Guzy Sprague
Featured Artists: Mimi Ndiweni and Nikola Ruzicic
Age Restriction: 14+ (M)
Cape Town theatre lovers will also be able to see The Incident at Alexander Upstairs from 11 to 15 July, nightly at 7pm with a matinee performance on 14 July at 3pm. Tickets can be booked online at www.alexanderbar.co.za. Online payments get a R10 discount per ticket.