AFTER a performance at the Musho! International Theatre Festival in Durban last month, the internationally acclaimed play Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister – a personal take on death and grief – is on in Cape Town this week.
BBC journalist Kate Peyton was shot and killed by suspected Islamic radicals when on assignment in Somalia in 2005. This play is her sister Rebecca’s one-woman show about the impact of this loss – “a poignant, wry look at grief, a tribute to Kate and an attempt to break the taboo around discussing death”.
Tonight chatted with Rebecca about the piece and found her to be an upfront woman who doesn’t pussy-foot around issues.
“Within days of Kate dying I knew I wanted to make something. My dad died when I was six years old in a traffic accident. That experience of my dad dying means I have always been a person who talks about death – but in British culture that is very odd.
“The terrible thing about losing somebody is that whether a colleague, a friend or family, you never know how it will affect you.”
Rebecca said her objective was to produce a play featuring an ordinary person telling their story of death and grief.
“We didn’t want to dwell on anger, because so much of grief is anger. Yes, it’s sad, but at the same time more welcoming. Death is so much a part of everyday life.”
In the case of Kate’s death, Rebecca opted to stay away from the politics and focus more on the emotional aspect.
“Kate was murdered while abroad and there were lots of stories around what happened. But Kate felt she had to go to Somalia for her job’s sake, because she was supporting her Congolese boyfriend and his child who had moved in with her, so this is also a very South African story. Where people are under pressure to keep their jobs and will do anything to do so.”
Although talking about death is considered taboo in her culture, Rebecca said her family had been supportive of this work.
“My mom’s main fear was that after all the trouble we’d gone through to do the play, it would get bad reviews.”
But from its first staging the play has garnered laughter and appreci-ation from audiences, some of whom had been struggling with grief.
Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010, had a 30-date UK tour in 2011 and a sell-out run in London at the Finborough Theatre’s New Writing Festival last year. It has toured Switzerland and France and was published by Oberon Books last January. The Spanish version of the show is in rehearsal for a European, US and Latin American tour.
Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister will be performed from Saturday to February 16 at 7.30pm at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, Methodist Church Hall in Observatory. Each performance will be followed by a conversation with Rebecca and co-writer and director Martin M Bartelt.