Toyota US Woordfees 2020 Instagram-resensie: Wat die water onthou / What the water remembers

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mylitnet

Reën, rivier, vlei, see, oseaan. Water is ons almal se begin, ons almal se behoud. Dit gee lewe, dit koester en troos. Wanneer dit opraak, is ons in die moeilikheid. Wat die water onthou / What the water remembers (die titel waarskynlik ontleen van Louis Esterhuizen se gelyknamige publikasie), is ’n veeltalige produksie wat poësie en musiek inspan om ons verhouding met water te ondersoek. Kaapstad se onlangse droogte is die motivering agter al die sosio-ekonomiese, historiese en diep persoonlike vrae wat deur die span akteurs en musikante gevra word.

Pieter Odendaal, wat in 2019 die Ingrid Jonker-toekenning ontvang het, is pro-aktief besig met digkuns. Met hierdie stuk klim hy ook in die vervaardig se stoel en speel hy sélf die klawerbord. Hy word ondersteun deur ’n span bekwame akteurs wat in Engels, Xhosa en selfs ’n spatsel Somalies die mensdom se versugtinge, soeke na en uitspattige blydskap oor water in al sy vorme, besing. Die musiek in die stuk herinner sterk aan sekere werke van Laurinda Hofmeyr, wie se wêreldmusiek waarskynlik as inspirasie gedien het.

Die dekor is beperk, met kontrasterende temas van donker en lig, modern en ouwêrelds (klawerbord in die een hoek en Afrika-trom in die ander) en dodelike brokkies ys wat algaande smelt (dit het ongelukkig gesorg vir ’n onelegante neerploeg) op die verhoog. Dis effektief en ondersteun die gevoel van nietigheid wat mens ervaar wanneer die water uiteindelik opraak. "Water is the keeper of stories," lui ’n reël uit een van die gedigte. Dit onthou ook als wat die mensdom doen, spreek die titel dit uit. Odendaal en sy span kry dit reg om die oeroue wysheid, lewegewende krag en universele band tussen die mens en die natuur op ’n mooi en simplistiese manier te omtower sodat jy wel die titel én al die stories moet glo.

#instagramresensie #woordfees2020 @woordfees
@pieterjlodendaal
#watdiewateronthou (✏ en 📷 Nadine Petrick @nakadien)

Lees ook:

Toyota US Woordfees 2020 Instagram-resensie: Die voordele van eierwit

Toyota US Woordfees 2020 Instagram-resensie: Kraai

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Kommentaar

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    What The Water Remembers Company

    We as the collaborative team of What the Water Remembers (this is our own title, not inspired by Louis Esterhuizen's book), are contesting your review.

    Our show is about the urgent and overdue healing that South Africa needs at a political, socio-economic, emotional and spiritual level. Part of that healing is naming, hearing, and sitting with the histories of black and coloured/brown South Africans. In light of this, this review that only names the single white artist in the company perpetuates the very erasure that our work seeks to undo.

    The show features 6 artists on stage, and 3 artists behind the scenes, yet this review only names the single white artist. In this act it effectively erases the creative and intellectual contributions of the black and brown poets and musicians, and, the black lighting designer, the coloured/brown director and designer, and the natalie gertie stage manager/assistant director.

    This production was entirely collaborative from start to finish. While the starting point of the show was Odendaal's Phd project, this play from research all the way to staging, has been an entirely collaborative effort. The script was researched and written by all four of the poets: award-winning theatre maker Lwanda Sindaphi, Afeefa Omar and Toni Giselle Stuart. The music was originally composed and arranged under the direction of Fleur du Cap nominee Babalwa Zimbini Embo Makwetu and award-winning musician and multi-instrumentalist Nceba Gongxeka. Concept, design and direction was done by director, Jason Jacobs who is a Kunste Onbeperk Honoree in Theatre for performing arts in South Africa. The assistant director and stage manager is Eddie Newman; and our lighting design is done by Bamanye Yeko.

    This work is collectively owned and this needs to be acknowledged. Collective ownership is an indigenous system of knowledge that we are intentionally practising to defeat this kind of erasure. We are consciously and actively decolonising theatre and ways of making theatre, in terms of text, music, design and performance. We are deliberate in our storytelling that seeks to explore African orality rather than Western concepts of theatre. We spent three weeks intensely imagining ways of working that are healthy for black and brown artists, in doing this work of recalling forgotten histories and telling the present day realities of vast inequality that black and brown South Africans still live with.

    Words such as "waarskynlik" indicate that no background research was done in order to write this review. The references to the other artists read as the reviewer using other people's work (who we did not consult or draw inspiration from) to make sense of what they have seen.
    Neither Louis Esterhuizen nor Laurie Hofmeyr served as influence or reference in the making of this production. We recognise that the title of our production, when translated into Afrikaans, and Esterhuizen's collection, are the same but this was neither intentional nor deliberate.

    Gongxeka and Makwetu's musical compositions are original and draw from their own cultural and artistic backgrounds and influences. To assume that they draw influence from Hofmeyr, and to liken their work to "world music" is to erase the longstanding tradition of Xhosa orality in song and music, and these artists' work.
    Furthermore Makwetu, as musical director, has years of experience collaborating with poets, and turning poems into songs. For black and coloured/brown poets and musicians, the relationship between poetry and music is an old tradition that we inherited from our elders.

    The line "met kontrasterende temas van… modern en ouwêrelds (klawerbord in die een hoek en Afrika-trom in die ander)" centres the image of the African drum, despite the range of indigenous instruments that Gongxeka used –and were clearly visible– throughout the show. In doing so, it reduces Gongxeka's contribution from multi-instrumentalist to only playing one instrument. Further, its use of the "African drum" to represent indigenous music, reduces the genre to cliché and offers none of the historical or contemporary complexity of this genre.

    The line "Hy word ondersteun deur 'n span bekwame akteurs", centres Odendaal and implies that the black and coloured/brown artists worked in service of him. This is incorrect. The review further quotes a line from the play, "Water is the keeper of the stories" without crediting the coloured/brown female poet Toni Giselle Stuart.

    While the review is favourable and praises the show, it does so at a surface level. It engages with the show only through the lens of white Afrikaans artistic perspectives, thus denying and ignoring all the other artists in the room.

    We are deeply disappointed by a prolific and forward-thinking publication such as Litnet, feeding into this erasure, however unconsciously or unintentionally it may have happened.

    We would like to extend an open invitation to the reviewer and Litnet to enter into an in-person, open discussion/dialogue around these issues with us. We feel this is a conversation that needs to continue, and an important one that we all need to be part of in our country.

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