Tshepang 

 

This photo was taken during a performance of  Lara Foot’s play, Tshepang in Monaco at the Mondial du Theatre. I played the role of Ruth alongside Steven Butler who played Simon. The poignant play about the violent rape of a nine-month-old baby was directed by Jan Cohen. This image is informed by Lara’s text that poetically traces the destitute environment in which the violence occurred. A place where “nothing ever happens.” The tragic reality is, that while nothing much happens to transform the socio-economic realities of the people who occupy this place, alcoholism caused by the dop-system, lack of education, and violent abuse persist. Sisi, the nine-month-old whose body is ruptured through an unexplainable act of sexual violence, is taken up in the community within the play to embody all the enduring inhumanity and the possibility of salvation. Unable to realize her body in flesh, Foot manifests her presence in the play in the form of a half-loaf of bread. She, like Christ, becomes the bread broken for the sin of man and the blood spilled for our salvation. Her severed body survives to become the site of hope, of transformation, of humanity.

This image is brought to you by…

The Teatre des Varietes stage in Monaco. A story that happened somewhere in South Africa, in a town where nothing ever happens. The 2017 Mondial du Theatre in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Post-apartheid South Africa. The Actors Warehouse theatre in Gainesville, Fl. My personal experiences. My worries about my little sister in Caluza, South Africa. Steven’s histories. Steven’s powerful narration of the story in the role of Simon. Jan Cohen’s experiences in South Africa and connection to the text. Our rehearsal processes. Our multiple performances before Monaco. The two performances I saw as an audience member in Grahamstown and the Hexagon Theatre. My reaction to the dust of the salt. The meanings I understand about the bed I carry on my back. The bed which belongs to Jan’s grand-daughter. The gaps in our knowledge of the people whose lives we bring to life. Our research. Our mental preparation on that day. Our prayer to honor the story we’ve signed up to tell. Our prayer for all the Sisi’s in the world. Our recognition that while we long to realize the hope and redemption of Tshepang, we must carefully and honestly address the violence suffered by Sisi.

 

I invite you to buy a copy of the play. It is such a powerful reflection of our precarious yet unbreakable humanity.

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2013-08-08-baby-tshepang-thrives/

http://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/14895/baby-tshepang-s-story-still-relevant-as-ever

http://www.gainesville.com/news/20170505/actors-warehouse-invited-to-perform-tshepang-in-monaco

 

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