“Within the play I discuss feeling out of place at university, because my English never sounded ‘posh’ enough and my Afrikaans didn’t sound ‘suiwer’ enough.”
Mama is a character piece, showcased through poetry and physical theatre, choreographed by Alfonzo Freemantle and Yaseen Manuel, that focuses on the Afrikaaps dialect.
Menán van Heerden chats to Chenal and Jeremeo to find out more.
Mama runs until Saturday 13 April at the Artscape.
Tickets cost R45 per person and are available at Computicket.
Chenal and Jeremeo, what is Mama about and what do you aim to achieve with this production?
Mama is a character piece, showcased through poetry and physical theatre, choreographed by Alfonzo Freemantle and Yaseen Manuel, that focuses on the Afrikaaps dialect. The character communicates through body language accompanied by musical performance poetry and spoken word. The work fuses Mama’s physical confidence with Chenal’s vocal confidence in order to freely express herself.
Her stories confront issues such as rebirth, language, cultural and self-exploration, freedom of expression and the state of being. We hope that Mama will inspire and empower the youth to be proud of their heritage and state of being.
Mama wants to encourage theatre goers, learners, teachers, friends and family to accept the invitation and witness this crucial part of Mama's journey.
Mama is written in Afrikaaps, as you’ve mentioned. How would you define Afrikaaps and how does your language relate to your identity?
Chenal: To me Afrikaaps is a local language that I grew up with, specifically within my Beacon Valley, Mitchells Plain community. I describe the language(s) that I speak as a “mengelmoes”: a combination of English, Afrikaans and Afrikaaps.
Within the play I discuss feeling out of place at university, because my English never sounded “posh” enough and my Afrikaans didn’t sound “suiwer” enough.
My “mengelmoes” language is relatable to my identity in relation to being a woman of colour, from my hair, to my dialect, to the stereotypical greetings I receive. I grew up in a household where both of my parents were taught in the Afrikaans language, but their children (my three siblings and I) were taught and placed in English classes at school. This is common especially in Cape coloured communities.
Chenal and Jeremeo, tell us more about your arts residency representing Artscape Theatre Centre and South Africa at EVS (European Volunteer Service), based in Liverpool in England. Did you meet other theatre practitioners? What did you learn during your residency? How does England differ from South Africa; how is it similar?
Chenal, you are an applied theatre facilitator for Sp(i)eel and The Blaqpearl Foundation. What is the focus of these organisations and where are they based?
The Blaqpearl Foundation (BPF) aims to transfer and share arts, life skills, leadership skills, sport and human development. It is based at the Alliance Française building, Wall Street, Portland, Mitchells Plain. Please feel free to like the Blaqpearl Foundation Facebook page for more updates.
Sp(i)eel was formed as an arts therapies collective. This organisation focuses on art, drama, dance/movement and music to create wider access to the arts therapies. It is based in Cape Town (196 Victoria Rd, Woodstock).
Both of these organisations are doing tremendous work within their communities and are positively impacting so many lives. I feel grateful to be part of such inspirational organisations and being able to continue doing what I am passionate about, thus facilitating.
Jeremeo, tell us more about your work at Vulture Productions.
Vulture Productions is a platform I created to utilise as an outlet for my creative work(s). It challenges me to stay “mixed but not fixed”, often taking on multiple roles: performer, producer, photographer, and now, director. The platform also enables me to support and encourage other artists.
Any wise words for aspiring theatre practitioners?
Both of us would encourage young people to invest in their individuality and constantly aim to reach the truest and highest expression of themselves.
Bearing in mind the importance of generating your own work and not relying on or waiting for opportunities, but to create them yourself.
There is the realisation that it is difficult to sustain yourself financially, so we encourage them to be versatile and participate in a variety of financial opportunities within and even outside of the performing arts industry.
Nothing ever stays the same. In this industry you're forced to work and develop in an ever changing environment. All you can really do is be present in the moment and do your best.
- Photographs: Vulture Productions