The Fall was conceptualised by young people who were involved in the student protests that swept through the country in 2015 and 2016. Picture: Supplied

I have never been to a theatre show where a public service announcement is made by one of the cast members, before the actual one that’s a prerecorded message by the theatre itself. It was a necessary one - a trigger warning for anyone who’d been directly involved in the student protest movement.

The Fall is a production that was conceptualised by young people who were directly involved in one way or another in the student protests that swept through the country’s institutions of higher learning in 2015 and 2016, in what was possibly the largest student protests in the last 10 years.

Focusing specifically on the #RhodesMustFall movement as a starting point, the cast take on seven student identities that could have been found in the protest movement that colloquially became known as the Fallist movements. 

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These movements were aimed at making UCT a space that is welcoming to people of colour, that offers decolonised and afrocentric education, that treats its workforce with respect and is a safe haven where sexualities, cultures, religions and beliefs can be practised without the fear of persecution or discrimination.

That warning was necessary, because if you lived those protests for even a short while, the production will leave you triggered. Looking around the theatre, I discovered that even older members of the audience who possibly weren’t part of those movements were moved.

The multitudes of awards and recognition that the production has received abroad make sense. It’s very raw and honest storytelling that allows the viewer to see into the depths of the characters’ fears, hopes, insecurities and aspirations for a better tomorrow.

The production is also very minimalist in its nature in that there are little to no wardrobe changes, and the set is mainly an empty stage with three tables. Lighting is, however, vital in the production and it was impressive, quite effective in aiding the storytelling. This allowed the viewer the chance to appreciate the fine acting on stage.

Their harmonies were, for the most part, simply beautiful to listen to, and the music and sounds were integrated carefully enough into the production to allow for it to sway and portray the mood of the scene.

I was mildly concerned with the length of the production. Sitting for almost two hours with no interval, it’s possible for viewers to get tired and thus stop paying attention. But the storyline and dialogue in the play are entertaining enough to keep viewers on board, if they resist the urge to check their cellphone screens during the production.

The production also serves a very important purpose. By simply existing, it keeps the ideas and ideals that these young people stood up for alive. It reminds us that it’s not yet Uhuru.

It also gives an insight to everyone that was outside of the movement about its intentions and ideas.

If anything, we should all watch The Fall so that we can keep alive the idea that fighting for a better society outside the confines of the university is important.

We must take a page out of the books of fallists and actually build a South Africa that is better for all.

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