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  • Writer's pictureThuthukani "TK" Ndlovu


// This is three women’s responses to the prevalence of the violent culture of harassment, abuse, rape and femicide in South Africa //

Wassup fam. I hope y'all are doing well, and enjoying our new site. For all those in Joburg, there's a production coming up that you should definitely not miss. The Highly respected and much-applauded producer, playwright, performer and UCT Masters graduate, Siphokazi Jonas debuts her latest poetry and music production, "#WeAreDyingHere" (Buy tickets here), which will be a once-off show at Joburg Theatre, on Saturday the 29th of February 2020.

The cast want to put out a challenge to themselves and all members of society to re-imagine a more hopeful future where the most vulnerable are not overwhelmed by fear. The show also asks how we can continue these conversations, not just during 16 Days of Activism but 365-days-a-year which is how we experience violence in our country. Siphokazi describes the show as an "indaba" and that audiences will have time during the Q&A to respond and imagine together with the cast. #WeAreDyingHere draws on many local and global traditions of storytelling by decreasing the distance between performer and audience, all while flattening hierarchies. She goes on to say “I am really tired of feeling helpless and afraid as a woman in South Africa. Before work began on realising #WeAreDyingHere, I felt as if art has no real place in terms of true change in the world; a poem is not going to change murderous intent. A fellow writer reminded me that our work gives us language and helps us to articulate ourselves. That’s what we hope #WeAreDyingHere will illicit.”

All three-cast members co-wrote the work; Siphokazi Jonas, along with Venda-born storyteller Hope Netshivhambe and vocalist Babalwa Makwetu. Hope has performed her poetry at The State Theatre (Pretoria), the Market Theatre (Johannesburg), and has been part of the first ever-national Fresh Poetry Tour. She recently took third place at the Tshwane Speak Out Loud poetry competition for the 2018/2019 edition. Babalwa Makwetu, who was also part of the cast of Jonas’ Around the Fire 2018, is a 2017 Fleur du Cap Theatre Awards nominee for Best Supporting Actress. She is both an actress and a musician; currently she is a part-time music teacher at Magnet Theatre where she studied Physical Theatre and a number of other disciplines. Babalwa has toured locally and internationally, including Italy, Switzerland and the USA. She released her debut single, “Vuma”, in 2019.

#WeAreDyingHere is an important work in speaking back, speaking against, and leading the conversation, which need to be had within our communities. “When we got together as the creators of this work, we weren't even sure what needs to be said,” Jonas recalls. “We were trying to figure out how to articulate our rage, but we also wanted to challenge ourselves to write from a position of autonomy and strength. Through this show we grapple with the idea of hope in such seemingly hopeless conditions. We hope that we will see a lot of men in attendance and in conversation,” she concludes. “I cannot stress this enough. We need people eager to challenge norms within their circles and who are willing to be accountable. We’re also taking the hashtag conversation offline." If you are looking for a moment to breathe in the chaos - to be encouraged, to speak and listen to different communities - this is for you!

It's important to note that although the title of the show is #WeAreDyingHere, the trio want to leave everyone with an overwhelming sense of just how much we want to live: to thrive, fearlessly, and as freely as possible. Jonas plans on taking #WeAreDyingHere on tour in this year, in order to have these indabas/conversations sparked in as many spaces as possible; from schools, churches, offices to many traditional and non-traditional performance spaces. I'm really sad that I'm missing out on the show again (because I missed last years one in Cape Town) - but it is what it is. I'm sure I'll catch the production when it's on tour. If you're in Joburg (or able to travel to Joburg this week, do make sure you get yourself a ticket at Webtickets. For more information, please contact Martin Myers on 083 448 4475 / . You can also stay in touch with the build up to the show through the Facebook event page. Peace out fam.


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