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‘Diaparo Tsa Mama’ is a tribute to all South African mothers

Published Mar 22, 2022

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South African Film and Television Awards (Safta) nominated writer and director Rorisang Motuba pays a heartfelt tribute to her late mother in a new play titled “Diaparo Tsa Mama (My Mother’s Clothes)”.

The play follows the story of three sisters who, on the eve of their mother’s funeral, are duty-bound to sort through their beloved matriarch’s clothes in search of the perfect outfit to bury her in.

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Ziaphora Dakile, Lesoko Seabe and Dimpho More star in this moving production that deals with loss and womanhood.

The three sisters debate culture, duty and motherhood as they sort through their deceased mother’s clothes.

One sister must choose their mother’s final resting clothes, while the other navigates her grief and guilt in a one-act play.

“My mother passed away many years ago, but I just had this moment in the time after she passed with my father, my sister… we didn’t know what to do with all her clothes,” explained Motuba.

“So the question was, ‘What do we do with these items of clothing that carry a history, that carry memories… that hold so much of her personality in them?’

“Closest to her burial, as it is in the Setswana culture, the eldest daughter must pick the clothing that mom has to be buried in.

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“And so, ’Diaparo Tsa Mama’ is not just literally about her clothes. It’s about the essence of a woman, the essence of a mother.”

Motuba said although the production explores emotions associated with loss and grief, there’s a lot of humour, music and many life moments that will resonate with the audiences.

“I think people would enjoy the show because I can't recall the last time that they saw three amazing powerhouse actresses on stage in the theatre just going at it and talking about issues that we can all relate to, talking about mothers and siblings and culture and duty, surrounded by a heap of clothes.

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“This is such a South African play, we’ve got an original composition from some amazing musicians, we’ve got a wonderful jazz piece and everyone is going to immediately feel nostalgia.

“I just wanted to create that sensibility of people being vulnerable and raw and intimate with one another in a way that only siblings can understand. I just wanted to create intimacy and just to create vulnerability for everybody.”

“Diaparo Tsa Mama” was selected as one of the 10 local productions that debuted online in April last year as part of the Market Theatre’s Salute the Playwright initiative.

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“It was such a genius idea for the Market Theatre to put these one-act plays online because they were trying to get people to still consume theatre even when theatres were closed.”

Motuba, like many creatives, was forced to explore the world of digital theatre, a space that is fairly new, particularly in Africa.

“The play was received very well, because many people, especially at the time, had lost a lot of people and loved ones suddenly because of Covid… so it became quite a cathartic experience for them to live through, which is why the Market Theatre approached me afterwards and said, ‘Listen, once we are allowed to be back on stage, please, can you extend this play and have people come and watch it.’"

Motuba said she’s looking forward to people returning to the theatre.

“I think they’ll really enjoy the play… it will be quite nourishing. And I’m just very grateful that we’re honouring all of our mothers, and not just a mine.”

“Diaparo Tsa Mama” is staging at the Market Theatre until April 10.

Tickets are available at Webtickets from R90 to R150.

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Theatre

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