Burning issues addressed

2016-09-27 06:00
The cast of The Fall are Sihle Mnqwazana, Thando Mangcu on top, with Sizwesandile Mnisi, Ameera Conrad seated. Tankiso Mamabolo and Oarabile Ditsele are standing on the steps.    PHOTO: Oscar O’Ryan

The cast of The Fall are Sihle Mnqwazana, Thando Mangcu on top, with Sizwesandile Mnisi, Ameera Conrad seated. Tankiso Mamabolo and Oarabile Ditsele are standing on the steps. PHOTO: Oscar O’Ryan

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As student protests continue to rock the country, The Fall, a brand new production at the Baxter this October, shares the experiences of seven recent UCT graduates during the #RhodesMustFall and subsequent student movements.

The Fall, which will be at the Baxter’s Golden Arrow Studio from Thursday 6 to Saturday 29 October, is a frank collaborative piece of workshop theatre devised by the cast, facilitated by Clare Stopford, and directed by Ameera Conrad and Thando Mangcu, two members of the ensemble.

The dynamic cast includes Conrad (Don’t Shoot the Harbinger, People Beneath Our Feet); Oarabile Ditsele (Woza Albert, Identirrhaging); Tankiso Mamabolo (Nothing But the Truth, Fabulous Nothing); Mangcu (Don’t Shoot the Harbinger, The Shipment); Sizwesandile Mnisi (Woza Albert, Connection to Home); Sihle Mnqwazana (My Children! My Africa!, Identirrhaging) and Cleo Raatus (Black Dog/Inj’emnyama, District Six Kanala).

Given the current climate at tertiary institutions throughout South Africa, this production could not be more relevant, focusing on and highlighting burning issues that beg to be addressed. The vital new play adds its voice to the national and worldwide debate and youth-led revolutions against injustices, inequality in education, cultural representation and many other contemporary conflicts. The mass student movement (and the ones that followed throughout the year all over the country) provoked worldwide discourse and action.

Social categorisations such as race, class and gender, as well as the ideologies of patriarchy and sexism – all issues at the core of global conversations and tragedies pervasive in today’s societies – are tackled head-on, as The Fall seeks to unpack discrimination in all its forms.

The production is based on the cast’s personal journeys as people of colour (POC) during the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall demonstrations in 2015, during their final year as students at the University of Cape Town.

These movements, the inspiration for this production, served as a major clarion call to a great number of people of colour at UCT as well as other tertiary institutions all over the country. The campaign for the statue’s removal led to a wider movement to decolonise education across South Africa garnering global attention.

The Fall hones in on the cast’s individual challenges in the movement as well as those created by the overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination. It provides a point of reference in terms of what motivated students to act and why they found the Rhodes statue offensive. The play hopes to bridge the generational gap between the current generation’s outlook, attitudes and motivations and the older generations’ perspective on topical issues such colonisation, sexuality and racial discrimination. The play also looks back on what gains were made and what developments have evolved as a result of the students’ demonstrations.

The play does not offer solutions to the questions raised by the movements which inspired it, but hopes to create and nurture dialogue – as it did in the workshop process – on intersectional and institutionalised discrimination against the marginalised. V The Fall previews at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from Thursday 6 to Monday 10 October, opens Tuesday 11 October and runs until Saturday 29 October at 19:30 with Saturday matinees at 14:30. There is an age restriction of 16 years. Tickets cost R130 Monday to Thursday and R150 Friday to Saturday, with R50 discount for students. Tickets are available at Computicket.

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