Production crosses continents

2016-07-13 06:00
ERWIN MAAS with members of the student cast of the Qwaqwa Campus. They are from the left Mpho Xaba, Lebohang Molefe and Tankiso Mofokeng. Photo: Supplied

ERWIN MAAS with members of the student cast of the Qwaqwa Campus. They are from the left Mpho Xaba, Lebohang Molefe and Tankiso Mofokeng. Photo: Supplied

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PHUTHADITJHABA. – The Basotho story of Moshanyana Sankatana serves as catalyst in an intercontinental stage performance project.

Imagine this: a student cast from a rural campus, a production team consisting of a New York-based Dutch director, a South African screen and stage legend, a Hague/Vienna-based Dutch theatre designer and a Vienna-based Serbian performance craft artist and designer.

This sounds like a far-fetched flight of the imagination, but it is real and it is called I-DENT-I-TIES, a large-scale intercontinental performance project with international theatre professionals and 50 students of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus.

According to the director of the project, Erwin Maas, the production explores the “dents” and “ties” of both individual and communal identification and distinctiveness and does this through the famous Basotho story of Moshanyana Sankatana as a point of departure.

“We explore questions like ‘what are dents in our society as well as in ourselves’, ‘what ties me to who I really am and who I want to be’, ‘what does it mean to be me’ and ‘what does it mean to be South African’,” said Maas, who has been working on this project since last year.

The production also celebrates personal, communal and universal narratives and identities through song, dance, story-telling and music. It explores the past, the present and the future.

“This production will certainly reveal an extraordinary journey into what makes us unique and binds us together,” he added during the rehearsals that started in May on the Qwaqwa Campus.

Maas has teamed up with a well-known South African film and stage legend, Jerry Mofokeng, as consultant.

Mofokeng, who introduced Maas to the Sankatana story, has featured in a number of critically-acclaimed films that include Cry The Beloved Country, as well as the Academy Award-winning Tsotsi.

Maas has also worked with the Hague/Vienna-based Dutch designer Nico de Rooij and Djana Covic, a Vienna-based Serbian designer.

The production is a partnership between UFS Student Affairs, the Free State Arts Festival, the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development and the embassy of the Netherlands in South Africa.

It premiered at the Free State Arts Festival in Bloemfontein on 11 July and will run until 16 July. It will also be performed in the Rolihlahla Mandela Hall on the Qwaqwa Campus on Tuesday (19/07) at 14:00 and 18:00.

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