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MAKING its way to our stages is an African-American play that is relevant to South Africa and touches on crucial issues of everyday life – For Colored Girls who have considered Suicide/When the rainbow is enuf.
The world-renowned play by Ntozake Shange will run at the BAT Centre in the Sipho Gumede Hall from November 7 to 10. The play is a series of 20 poems referred to as a “choreopoem” that expresses the struggles and obstacles that African-American women face throughout their lives.
Directed by local theatre practitioner Ian Gareth Hadfield, the cast features seven talented females from the multidimensional Talent Agency Role Models, which represents actors, actresses, models, singers and dancers.
On working with the cast, Hadfield says: “My mandate within the company is to provide opportunities for young, talented people. I saw that we had seven talented, trained actors and I thought what could we do with them to give them exposure and oppor- tunities?
“Then, I just had a light bulb go on in my head one evening and I thought, For Colored Girls who have considered Suicide is a brilliant play for them to do, because it’s relevant, topical and interesting, and it’s also right up my alley.
“I enjoy experimental theatre. Also, it deals with very relevant South African issues, particularly for women, but not only for women. It has a very broad appeal. It’s also beautifully written. It’s not a realistic story in any sense of the word. It speaks to the nature of where coloured women were at that time and where they are now, so it raises the question of what progress we’ve really made for women and, in particular, women of colour.”
With issues pertaining to rape, abortion, abuse, cheating and HIV/Aids, Hadfield says it is something we all can relate to.
“We’ve seen people go through this. What’s beautiful about the play is that despite opening up these wounds, there’s also healing at the end of the play.
“I think the audience is going to relate to it and we’re going to get a bunch of ‘hallelujahs’,” he said.
One of the cast members, Ndalo Mchunu, shares her reasons for wanting to be a part of this production. The delightful actress loved the movie that piqued her interest in the play.
She reveals: “The movie was phenomenal. It was only when Ian told me about it that I read about the actual author of the play and found out what the play is about. But working with the cast has been great, we got on so well. And I think that even the characters we have actually suit us.”
For Hadfield, the process of discovery is most exciting for him as the director. “I’m enjoying the interaction with the language and discovering the layers of meaning within the language that is fundamentally written by an African-American. And we’re not going to impose accents on the language.
“We’re going to allow the language to dictate the way that we speak. It’s got to have a South African flair to it. We’re not avoiding the language, we’re embracing it. And I’m hoping that it will open dialogue between audience members so that they can have a debate because a lot of these issues are very polarising. For me, theatre must stimulate debate and open interest. Otherwise we would just go and watch the movie.”
• The play runs at the BAT Centre from November 7 to 10. Tickets are R110 at Computicket. For info, call Ian at 078 9018661.