ANKOBIA – A review by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

A short review of Ankobia by Malebogo ‘Lucky’ Mqoboli

Ankobia visibly employs various political satire conventions and borrows from Afrofuturism aesthetics. As such, it is present in the future. Ankobia privileges the African mode of thought, values, and morals as proposed and detailed by Afrocentric and Afrofutirstic visual and audio creatives and theoreticians alike (African intelligentsia class).

Ankobia boldly exposes the illusion and the promises manufactured by the dominant religion discourse and how it purports the notion of freedom. The play successfully tackles the meta-narrative (i.e. the importance of land) theme that continues to reside in the imagination of post-apartheid South African black youth.Through its theatrics, we are reminded that Africans have been deeply connected to the land. And we must not shy away from that. Land means dignity to Africans.

Additionally, Ankobia confronts the liberal sensibilities using allegory and African idioms and proverbs (in this case SeTswana cultural codes) as extended pictorial and linguistic metaphors to express the notion of freedom and individual experiences of black people after the performed injustices of slavery and colonialism upon the African continent.

Throughout the play, Ankobia visits the prevailing tensions between African Traditional Religion and Christianity. We are challenged to interrogate our Bantu Afrikan Spirituality as the solution to our modern day philosophical, ideological and ontological crisis. Therefore, there is an implied suggestion that, black Africans must return to the source and champion their consciousness and reach for a higher self. I’d say it presents us with some answers and clues.

Pula!

Ase!

 

‘Ankobia’ premiered at Rhodes Theatre for NAF 2017, and will be on at the Market Theatre until the 13th August 2017. To book tickets visit: https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1472721880

Show information:

Co-writers: Monageng Vice Motshabi & Omphile Molusi
Director: Monageng Vice Motshabi

Performers:
Katlego Letsholonyana
Alfred Motlhapi
Billy Langa
Lillian Tshabalala
Momo Matsunyane
Omphile Molusi

THE MOVEMENT RSA would like to thank Lucky for his contribution towards One Person’s Opinion!

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Our new theatre baby; ‘The Crucifixion of Amagqwirha’

Last year The Movement RSA brought you ‘Just Antigone’ and this year we’re back with a new setwork! ‘The Crucifixion of Amagqwirha’ is inspired by Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ – the 2017 setwork for IEB Matric learners.
This is a tale of how gossip and superstition can fiercely capture the mind of a people. Looking at how myth can still live in the imagination, and for some the reality of life, this tale follows a community forced to look at its own faults and dreams.

‘The Crucifixion of Amagqwirha’ will be on at:

National Arts Festival:
4th July – 18:00
5th July – 16:00
6th July – 22:00
7th July – 16:00
8th July – 20:00
B2 Arena
Tickets: https://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/events/crucifixion-of-amagqwirha/

Wits Theatre 969 Festival:
Friday 21st July – 18:30
Tickets: https://www.wits.ac.za/witstheatre/contact-us/

AMA - Final poster image

‘Tswalo’ at the Soweto Theatre

Tonight’s the preview,  and then tomorrow will be the opening night of ‘Tswalo – a narrative poem’ at the Soweto Theatre! This “narrative poem” is performed by the formidable Billy Langa whose poetic prowess has been seen in other works such as “Poet-O-Type” by Jeff Tshabalala. The work is directed by Mahlatsi Mokgonyana, who despite his youth has already steered many successful shows including ‘My Children! My Africa!’ and “Lysistrata’. Langa and Mokgonyana co-directed The Movement RSA’s ‘Just Atigone’, which was recently nominated for three Naledi Awards.

Tswalo was described by POPArt Theatre as:
Lyrical prose, poetry and physical storytelling entwine to interrogate the rules that govern life on earth, such as power, creation, politics, connection, and intuition – the performers’ expression of his ‘source’.
Tswalo is a spiritual quest that gives the audiences the baton to walk through their own paradigm of ontology, Tswalo’s poetry, prose and stories furnish us with the necessary tools into a deep meditation. It undoubtedly begs the question (or theory) of being, becoming and unbecoming
Tswalo premired in Johannesburg at The Plat4orm and for its second run it went to Cape Town at the Alexander Bar Theatre. Tswalo made its international premier at Forum Phoinix BT, Bayreuth, Germany which was featured as part of ON THAT NOTE performance art exhibition. It is now making it’s way to Soweto Theatre, so catch it before time runs out.

 

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1st Monologue Monday of 2017

Normally it would be ‘black Monday’ in the theatre-world, but this Monday 6th of February The Movement RSA participated in the 1st ‘Monologue Mondays’ of 2017. The event, hosted by Andz Mpinda and her incredible creative team, was held at The Hive in Braamfontein. The unconventional venue, which usually exhibits artwork, had performers set up in various corners (and a stairway too) as though living sculptures – reminiscent of shows such as Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit A’ and Mwenya Kabwe’s ‘Nomads Among Us’. The audience moved from one space to the next, watching as the actors performed either Shakespearian sonnets or modern monologues about love. Love and romance was the theme of the evening, given Valentines Day next week and the artists’ love of theatre in general. At the end of the prepared performances, certain audience members were called up to read ‘love letters’ they had received upon entering the space. These love letters were new pieces by writers asked to create ‘responses’ to a particular Sonnet they’d been given by the organisers. Some were written in sonnet form, others in monologue form, but all were responses Shakespeare would have been proud of (keep a look out for some pieces on our blog).

A big thank you to the organisers of the event, LEON for providing such soulful music, The Hive, the writers, performers and readers, and of course the audience! It was wonderful to collaborate with you all.

Monologue Mondays will take place the 1st Monday of each month – meaning the next one is on the 6th of March (write it in your diary). To get involved or to get more info, kindly contact Andisiwe Mpinda (Director of Entsimini Produce and Monologue Mondays) at entsiminiproduce@gmail.com

Below is a like to a short video-slash-slideshow of the event. Forgive the poor quality. After all we’re theatre-makers, not film-makers.

7 Deadly Theatre Sins

By Binnie Christie

A list of sins committed by actors and audiences:  

1. Your phone going off: There’s this amazing new phone function! It’s called the ‘off’ button. Use it… Nobody wants to hear your ring tone as you struggle to find your phone in your bag or pocket. So keep those phones quiet, otherwise you might just be called an “asshole” by Jemma Khan (as happened during ‘We Didn’t Come to Hell for the Croissants’) or be embarrassed by King Creon (Jovan Muthray in ‘Just Antigone’).

2. Leaving/entering during a performance: Get to the theatre on time, and go to the bathroom before the show begins. The only excuse for leaving is in an emergency, like your wife having a baby or your Gran on her death bed, in which case you probably shouldn’t be at the theatre anyway… If you hate the show, bring some tomatoes instead of doing a walk-out. 

3. Using a prop for anything off-stage: The Movement RSA learnt this the hard way. On a very cold night during Grahamstown Fest we used the blankets from ‘Just Antigone’ as extra bedding, and then of course forgot them as the backpackers. Poor Campbell (the fastest driver!) had to dash home to get them less than an hour before we went on… Props break, get lost or stolen, so instead of giving your stage-manager a heart attack, leave them for the show! 

4. Saying ‘sorry’ if you forget your lines: There is no apology for apologizing on stage. Nor asking to start again… It’s called improv! 

5. Talking during a show: A quick comment to the person next to you is alright, but if you treat a performance like the Oprah Show, other people want to stab you. This is not about you! Chat in the foyer instead and don’t heckle the performers.  

6. Saying McBeezy in the theatre: This rule is so ingrained in me that I fear even writing the name of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. If you do utter it however, according to Nick Mayer (previously the Workshop manager of Wits Theatre) you must spit on the ground and turn around three times. 

7. Being in costume off-stage: Mahlatsi Mokgonyana will school you on this one! (We know). Sometimes it’s difficult as an actor to run to the bathroom without passing the audience, and all performers know how nerves can affect your bladder, but either change quickly back into your regular clothes, or bring a dressing gown, robe or invisibility cloak. 

Any rules we left out? Write a comment or submit your own rules.  

Reviewing Reviewers

By Binnie Christie, on behalf of The Movement RSA

As suggested by the name of our artistic collective, The Movement RSA seeks to move beyond our artistic comfort zones into new creative territories. One of these territories being writing which critically engages with the arts; aka ‘blogging’. Thus in 2017 we will be writing and releasing several articles, reviews and reflections which investigate all things theatre in South Africa

We believe that in order to make work, artists need to see work. Someone who has never been to the theatre, or who has not been to the theatre for a whiiiiiile, should not expect to make a show which is altogether relevant, new, or exciting compared to its current counterparts. By engaging with others we engage ourselves, assessing our work and its place (if any) in the industry.

By blogging The Movement RSA wishes to open up a space for all to engage in a critical conversation about art, I particular theatre. After watching a show, friends, family, partners and strangers will discuss or debate what they’ve seen, exposing themselves to different opinions and deeply interrogating all aspects of the production. These conversations are useful for audiences to digest what they’ve consumed, and critical for the creators to assess, affirm or improve their production. Our work is a product, and the audience are our consumers, so to feed their hearts, minds and soul we must cater and listen to them. Blogging allows an ongoing conversation where direct feedback such as Previews or Q+A’s are not possible.

A great motivation behind this project is that presently The Movement RSA feels there is a lack of diversity within local theatre critique, creating a monopoly of certain voices. When Googling “theatre critics in South Africa” the second website to appear is an article on Thought Leader by Sandile Memela entitled ‘Africa Has No Critics’(1). Though written eight years ago, the title and body of the piece point to several of current concerns, and begs important questions, such as: “where are the African critics, especially the young ones?”

It is problematic that the loudest voices seemingly come from a similar social background: middle-aged, privileged and white. I know this is ironic, given I’m at least two of those things, but the aim is to change all this, and this is only the first article of the blog after all…

The Movement RSA does not mean in any way to take away from the work of established critics; in fact we wish to do the opposite, and add to it. Nor do we pretend to be as knowledgeable, but perhaps we aim to be… We have opinions, and Wi-Fi (most of the time), and a dream for more audiences, artists and writers to engage with each other, given the incredible range of opinions out there.

To achieve this, our blog will be open to anyone who wishes to submit writing, or just leave a comment. The nine members of The Movement RSA seldomly agree on anything, particularly theatre, and so in keeping with the spirit of contradiction we invite you to join our great theatrical conversation.

All submissions will be showcased on our blog and social media sites (2), understanding that:

  • Our aim is to build, not to knock down. No person can bash another person or work without suggesting ways they feel the work may have been better built (an architect doesn’t destroy a building without a better model in place).
  • Our opinions are valid, provided they provide validation (i.e. – our opinions are not feelings; they must be backed by evidence). We don’t need Harvard referencing, just an example or two to substantiate your ideas.
  • Let’s encourage critical engagement of theatre, grow the artists and audiences, and hear some different voices.

One writer is one voice. Many writers could be a revolution… But to get there we need individuals to have their say. Therefore the blog will be entitled “One Man’s Opinion”. Or “One Woman’s Opinion” depending… Actually, let’s call it:

 ONE PERSON’S OPINION

What do you think? ‘Hate it or love it’ we’d like your 50 cents. So comment, share or write to us with your own stuff (using the email address the.movement.rsa.blog@gmail.com and the heading “One Person’s Opinion”).

 

References:

1) Link to Memela’s Article: http://thoughtleader.co.za/sandilememela/2009/08/12/the-african-continent-has-no-theater-critics/

2)  Find The Movement RSA on other social media sites:

Facebook Page: The Movement RSA (https://www.facebook.com/TheMovementRSA/)

Facebook Group: The Movement RSA (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1670441406538217/)

Twitter: The Movement RSA. @MovementRSA (https://twitter.com/MovementRSA)

Instagram: The Movement RSA. @the.movemet.rsa (https://www.instagram.com/the.movement.rsa/?hl=en)

3) The article image of ‘Shakespeare vs. the critic’ is taken from ATCA (American Theatre Critics Association): http://americantheatrecritics.org/

Blog on! Introducing: ONE PERSON’S OPINION

This February The Movement RSA will be introducing: One Person’s Opinion – a blog that invites anyone to write anything they want about theatre and art in South Africa.

Our aim is to open up a conversation between artists and audiences, encourage new writing, and hear different voices.

So blog on!

More details to follow soon.

To submit a work please email: the.movement.rsa.blog@gmail.com