The play began its life as a student piece when Nadia Davids was studying at UCT (undergrad degree in English and drama, honours and PhD in drama) and she wrote it with her friend Quanita Adams in mind. Adams was a UCT drama student. At Her Feet became a meteoric career entry point for both.
Since then, they have worked across multiple disciplines and genres. Adams has written extensively for TV and performed on the small screen and in major films like Forgiveness.
Davids has carved out a formidable career as a novelist, playwright and academic.
She is associate professor of English at UCT. After living and working in New York and London for 12 years, she returned home two years ago. Last year, her new play, All That Remains, scooped major theatre awards including best script.
"At Her Feet" is an important play, which booms loudly in a world of hate speech, disunity and global angst.
Davids is one of a handful of contemporary young writers who not only ignite vital conversations but who are brilliant scribes and who are able to transfigure text vividly in a live performance medium.
Whilst Davids’s writing is threaded with images of disruption, rupture, pain, within that is her extraordinary literary voice which charges her texts with humour, release, hope.
Davids: “Human beings are political; we can’t not be - political structures dictate how we live, the conditions of our lives, but we are still individuals working our way through, and in, those structures.
"I’m interested in different textures of feeling and how complicated those textures can be.”
At Her Feet “feels as urgent today as it did back” in 2002, she reflected: “What is different, wonderfully so, is how much women - inter-generationally - are talking: about everything, about our place in the world, our agency, our power... One of the best, most heartening things about coming home has been to be in the classroom with my young women students. They’re around 19".
"They’re fearless and outspoken; they’re thinking about, and talking through, difficult ideas constantly. I remember just a handful of people doing that when I was their age."
In revisiting the play, have changes been made to the script?
Davids: “We decided early in the process that we would keep the text as is. It’s about a very specific moment, the months after 9/11, so in a sense it’s a period piece. But, 16 years after it was first staged, there are layers and nuances that were not there at the beginning...
"There’s a depth, seriousness and gravitas that Quanita’s performance holds today that feels new, a maturity, while remaining incredibly funny.
"When we first did it, there was a wildness to both the direction and the performance. She’s always been an extraordinary performer, but watching her at this juncture of her artistry feels like sitting in on a masterclass.”
* At Her Feet is at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from November 22 to December 8, at 8.15pm, with matinees on Saturdays at 3pm.
Tickets are R100-R180. Book through Webtickets on 086 111 0005, via www.webtickets.co.za or from selected Pick n Pay stores. Age restriction: no under 12s.