WHEN WE AWAKE, the latest work by young playwright and Fleur du Cap Best New Director nominee, Nwabisa Plaatjie, makes its debut at the Baxter Masambe Theatre for a limited season, from 18 to 29 February, at 7pm nightly with Saturday matinees at 2pm.
Plaatjie, who directs the powerful two-hander, performed by Nolufefe Ntshutshe (Mbuzeni, Silindile) and Sisipho Mbopa (Mbuezeni, Ityala lamawele), delves into the outcomes of the #menaretrash, #metoo, #aminext movements in recent years. As the horrific scourge of violence against women and children continue in this country and around the world, the timing of this seminal work could not be better planned.
The narrative deals with two sisters who are haunted by the loss of their older sister, Notea. They were told by their mother (apparently as it was relayed to her), that Notea had drowned in a pot of porridge. Their grandmother told them a completely different story; however, she was never honest about what exactly happened to their sibling. With two versions of the story, the sisters are confused, and each believe a different account of the what really transpired.
The production was originally workshopped with award-winning actors Andrew Buckland (Endgame, The Inconvenience of Wings) and Mncedisi Shabangu (Tshepang, The Inconvenience of Wings) under the direction and conceptualisation of Plaatjie. It was further developed with Oarabile Ditsele and Sizwesandile Mnisi from The Baxter’s hugely successful The Fall-fame.
Evocative story-telling techniques, using the writing style of a ‘play within a play’, this new work, is multi-layered and complex, as it addresses the fever-pitch topics relating to gender-based violence and patriarchy. The dialogue is funny, strong and fierce and the notion of victim is challenged as characters navigate their way through the story.
Plaatjie is a young theatre-maker who has fast established herself as a trailblazer in the industry. In 2018 she was nominated for the Fleur du Cap Best New Director award. In 2017, she was the first recipient of the Baxter Theatre Centre PlayLab Residency, which provided space and support for the creation of a new digital theatre script where she put the artist on trial via social media. Plaatjie also received the Theatre Arts Admin Collective’s Emerging Theatre Directors’ bursary award which enabled her to stage Reimagining The Native Who Caused all the Trouble.
She is the curator and coordinator of the Baxter’s Masambe Theatre, driving its relaunch as a space for performance, collaboration and networking - a cultural hub created to encourage and enable a platform for young theatre-makers and directors.
“WHEN WE AWAKE symbolises the strength of an intergenerational artistic community,” says Plaatjie. “I found that the opportunity to collaborate with Mncedisi Shabangu and Andrew Buckland (made possible by the Baxter Theatre Centre through the Sue Robinson Trust), was a process that went beyond just creating a play. It evolved into the importance of mentorship and encouraged me to believe in myself and my dreams.”
She continues, “Furthermore, it gave birth to a mode of storytelling that looks like the traditional workshop theatre, and at the same time, could be a Xhosa ntsomi (Xhosa oral storytelling).”
Besides encouraging conversations around gender-based violence, through the play Nwabisa hopes to encourage seasoned theatre professionals to collaborate with young and emerging artists. The transfer of knowledge and skills between theatre-makers of different generations is essential.
WHEN WE AWAKE runs at the Baxter Masambe Theatre from 18 February until 29 February 2020 at 7:00pm and booking is now open at Webtickets, online at www.webtickets.co.za or at any Pick n Pay store. For discounted corporate, schools or block-bookings, charities or fundraisers, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.