photographs - Kali van der Merwe
The Mothertongue Project
In Association with the University of Cape Town’s Drama Department
Directed by: Sara Matchett
Featuring: Faniswa Yisa, Warona Seane, Awino Okech and Riana Alfreds
Scripted by Malika Ndlovu and The Cast
Design and installations by: Kali van der Merwe
Portaits by: Gabrielle Le Roux
Stage Manager: Asanda Phewa
Duration: 90 minutes
This Production was made possible by the National Arts Festival
Uhambo is an integration of theatre and visual art in the form of fresh, on-the-spot performances, portraits and installations that probe the concept of democracy through the eyes of taxi commuters in South Africa. The production will take you on a journey (literally!) that weaves together women’s personal responses to life in South Africa post-1994.
The idea to create Uhambo was born in Germany when The Mothertongue Project was approached to collaborate with German artists on a production that looked at the lives of South Africans post-1994 and Germans post re-unification. The plan was to collect the South African stories on minibus taxis and the German stories from German public transport systems, thus exploring the literal and figurative notion of journeys.
The German funding fell through and we were left with the option of either abandoning the project all together or localising it. We opted for the latter. Being a women’s arts collective, we decided to focus on women taxi commuter’s personal responses to the last 10 years in South Africa and to explore the minibus taxi as an alternative performance space. This site-specific quality of the production offers a first for The Mothertongue Project.
Another first for collective is the collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Portrait artist Gabrielle Le Roux has painted 6 of the people whose stories form part of the production. Gabrielle works in a unique way in that the portrait is painted from life while the “sitter” speaks her experience. Installation artist Kali van der Merwe has collaborated with us in designing the production and creating the installations. Malika Ndlovu, has gathered the stories we have collected and together with the cast has woven them into a script.
The Mothertongue Project
A collective of women performing artists, writers and visual artists who explore the keys to the empowerment of women and practical processes of healing and transformation through the power of theatre, storytelling, visual arts and creative writing.
Special thanks to:
The University of Cape Town’s Drama Department for rehearsal space and technical support
Jacqui Singer and Toko Nt shinga for their input and assistance
The myriad of women who shared their stories with us.