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The story

Having performed and toured with the play internationally and locally for almost six years (at the time), I thought it was time to take a break, retire the show, and explore other possibilities – ways in which my career could grow.
Little did I know that trying to retire the show for my personal aspirations would be a challenge; a long process that, at times, left me not knowing if I was working for or against my interests. There is a whole community of people, ranging from scholars and practitioners to platforms and institutions, who are still curious about the show. Moreover, there is still a greater population that has never heard of or seen the show.
Conversations and questions surrounding my decision about the production made me doubt and feel selfish about my choice. More than that, they motivated and challenged me to question how I could leave the production in a state that enables it to live and thrive outside my presence or that of someone else trying to re-stage the production.
Filming the show was the answer. The question that followed was about HOW the filming could be done best for a production like this—a critical question with a big question mark. The purist in me had vowed to himself that “filming theatre was the last thing I would ever do to my work as a theatre practitioner” because I had never seen theatre filmed for the stage in a convincing, artistic, or boundary-pushing style. I had not seen theatre meet film in a way that is respectful to both the medium of theatre and film, with an approach that attempts to honor the viewer's time by presenting a production that gives audiences a unique and valuable viewing experience.
For me, once a camera is involved in the process of capturing a performance (theatre), theatre ceases to be theatre as we know it. The potential experience it offers is a room to create a unique viewing experience for the audience, from a technical and performance approach to the individuals who will experience the show as a by-product of what’s being captured through the lens. This approach exploits the opportunities that come with those questions to create a new medium.
This is what makes this project the first of its kind and genre-defying.
But to continue my story, even after I got to relax, people kept asking about the show. The interest in the work was there, and it felt like the more I resisted, the more it grew. I am continually learning that there is a market for this show. I must just do it right.
In 2019, COVID lockdowns began. Theatres and theatre companies were all trying to produce or film theatre, going with the flow of the surge in demand for digital media. However, in most cases, there was a lack of vision. Something was wrong about their approach to filming theatre. There was a lack of consideration towards their paying audience and how to make that experience worth it at a time when, by default, we found ourselves competing for eyeballs with YouTubers and Netflix.
I avoided consuming or creating theatre and casually started giving thought to the production as my problem, working on a treatment. Soon, I followed through with a proposal.
It was inarticulate – as I’m grammatically “challenged” – but also because it was an unconventional project. I didn't know how to explain this 'thing' I wanted to do; I lacked references and vocabulary. Sooner or later, I started shopping the project, hoping for a value exchange deal with theatres. I tried, but I found that no one was friendly towards my idea or had the time and interest to hear it out. It seemed like I was just being unrealistic. I started to doubt myself and decided to reach out to Angus Gibson – my grootman. Even when I knew that theatre is not his medium of practice, I relied strongly on the fact that he knew the show.
He was kind enough to give me an ear. We spoke, and I guess I was not clear because later in the process, when we went to visit SKIERLIK, he asked, “How do you see us doing this?” and I had to re-explain.
To have a man with such a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry willing to take time out of his schedule to experiment in support of my project and vision spoke volumes for me. It reassured me. I was not crazy after all, and from that point on, the rest was history.
Over months, the project grew. I started rehearsing, trying to help, and figuring out an approach to performance for a project like this. After weeks, we finally figured it out. My friend, Sydney Ndlovu, came to rehearsals, watched, and gave me performance notes and motivation. We discussed it all, with Lungelo Mntambo helping me document the process.
Through trial, error, and persistence, and with the support of a few people and the collaborative spirit and direction of Angus Gibson, this project finally came together beyond my imagination. I’m grateful for this masterpiece of a project that we have managed to put together.
This here is our masterpiece, a work of love. Following this process, I don’t see myself not performing the show. I will be back on stage with the people. But the work will surely live, from here to beyond my existence, and for that, I am humbled and eternally grateful.
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