Drama students put a human face to mental health

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Eclipsed: Phifalo Ya Ngwedi
Eclipsed: Phifalo Ya Ngwedi

Eclipsed, directed by Sylvaine Strike, is a production workshopped with Market Theatre Laboratory first year students running from September 19 to 22.

ECLIPSED: Phifalo Ya Ngwedi

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“If there are no consequences, of course the bad men and women flourish, and the good ones shrivel and die” – Arbitrator Justice Moseneke, Life Esidimeni Arbitration, 31 January 2018.

Inspired by the tragedy of Life Esidimeni, in which 144 psychiatric patients died after being moved from Life Esidimeni centres to unlicensed NGOs across Gauteng, Eclipsed, directed by Sylvaine Strike is a production workshopped with Market Theatre Laboratory first year students.

The company have drawn on testimonies, articles, documentaries, news bulletins, and the commission statements that cross-examined the government officials responsible for this tragedy, to devise a powerful physical interpretation of this event and its aftermath.

In what promises to be a powerfully staged interrogation of how things came to fall apart so horrifically, Eclipsed is a necessary conversation about the unspeakable and fundamental neglect plaguing our current government. Has unaccountability become our new culture? Are the lives of our most vulnerable so disposable that they can be eclipsed without consequence?

The Market Theatre Laboratory first-year students have worked in an intensive three-week theatre-making process, led by three of the country’s most exciting practitioners: director and theatre-maker Sylvaine Strike; actress, voice and text specialist Gina Shmukler; and dancer and choreographer Phumlani Mndebele. The company have drawn on testimonies, articles, documentaries, news bulletins, and the commission statements that cross-examined the government officials responsible for this tragedy, to devise a powerful physical interpretation of this event and its aftermath.

“The first year Market Theatre Laboratory students are a fierce and magnificent force to be reckoned with. It is through them that we are reminded that we can and must speak out and become fearless in resisting the implosion of our country’s moral compass,” said Thozama Busakwe.

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