Toasting rich vein of Chatsworth culture

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TO NDR Jayshree4

A PASSION for their home, Chatsworth, has led theatre practitioners Jayshree Parasuramen and Verne Rowin Munsamy to go back to their roots for their newest production Chats_Worth.

Funds raised with this production will be donated to the ABH (Aryan Benevolent homes) and the Nelson Mandela Youth Centre in Chatsworth. It is hoped that in the long run a museum will be set up in the community.

Parasuramen said she and Munsamy co-wrote the play, inspired by the book Chatsworth – The making of a South African Township by Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed. She said the one-woman play tells stories from the community, inspired by events, her research in the community and anecdotes from the book.

“The aim behind it is that I want to raise funds to build a museum in Chatsworth where all our history can be recorded.

“Growing up, my granny would tell us stories about Chatsworth, back when it was a farm.

“My mother continued when my granny died and when my parents’ (generation) go, that history will be lost… and our youth of today have lost that.

“They won’t know and they may not even care later on to know where we come from… especially the development of Chatsworth.”

While carrying out research and interviewing residents last year, Parasuramen realised the rich history that lay with the people of Chatsworth.

“Some had photos and such interesting information, but it’s in their homes. And it needs to be out there so that others can see it.

“The stories that come out on stage are untold stories. Some are very ordinary stories and people, like the car guard, but there is a life and story behind a car guard… This is Chatsworth’s history and it’s people like this who made Chatsworth.

“When Chatsworth was developing, sport, music, religion, was such a big thing. It has slowly faded with the youth. This saddens my heart because I wish the youth could see what a talented generation they come from. And that’s what I speak about. I speak about the great musicians, soccer players, etc who came from Chatsworth.”

The stories are relayed through 10 characters Munsamy says are representative of the community.

“All the characters are very different… it’s not just one person or one person’s life but an amalgamation of identities in each character.

“The way we’ve arranged the characters is that they start from the beginnings of Chatsworth and end with a modern youngster, well educated, who is rooted in tradition but also looking forward to new possibilities.

“She is the hope we have for the future and the hope we have for Chatsworth. We hope something better will come out of what we’ve done and all that we have learnt.”

The characters speak about everyday heroes who made a difference in Chatsworth and who made Chatsworth what it is.

“We are grateful to Goolam and Ashwin for allowing us to use their book, which will be on sale at every show, and for the donation of an iPad which is up for grabs in a lucky ticket draw on opening night. We hope to get sponsors of tickets for the elderly and the youth. Tickets are R25. We ask the public to sponsor tickets so we can get the elderly and youth into the theatre to see the show,” said Parasuramen.

 

• Chats_Worth stages from April 4 to 20 at the ABH Putendeen Theatre. Public shows, weekends at 3pm and 7pm, R60 a person. School shows, April 7-11 at 11am, R25 a pupil. Senior citizens shows, April 14 and 15 at 11am, R25 a person. To book or to sponsor ticket for pupils or the elderly, call Sagie at 083 556 3237/ [email protected]

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