National Arts Festival 2016: Morwa the Rising Son

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Tefo Maya stares into space despairingly while Volley Nchabeleng plays traditional Tswana music in the background. Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark
Tefo Paya stares into space despairingly while Volley Nchabeleng plays traditional Tswana music in the background. Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark

One of the most contentious topics of discussion is what it is that makes a man. It’s not hard to understand why, especially with the strengthening of the feminist movement. In a word, this is the theme that runs through the one-man show, Morwa the Rising Son, the experiences that shape the convictions of one boy growing into a man.

The set opens with Morwa (Tefo Paya, who also wrote the play) staring into space despairingly and while undressing with traditional music (played by Volley Nchabeleng) in the background. Following a short but wonderfully done Tswana dance around the metal basin in the middle of the stage, things begin to unfold.

Tefo takes us on a journey of self-discovery in a coming of age tale marred by an overhanging difficult relationship he had with his father. The proverbial ageist dismissing of a child’s curiosity to avoid accountability is at the center of the unravelling story. All along he uses pieces of clothing to adopt characters or represent stages in his development.

Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark
Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark
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Unsurprisingly, it is when he experiences love and loss for the first time that a change happens in him; Morwa becomes hardened by circumstances and his path changes course towards becoming the variety of men resented by society. The story is pleasantly narrated and the physical performance is inoffensive. It is undeniable that the story is a personal one for the performer who also wrote it.

Tefo Paya simulating his first sexual experience in Morwa. Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark
Tefo Paya simulating his first sexual experience in Morwa. Image: Thato Tsotetsi for Artsvark

After a series of hard and emotionally charged shows, Morwa was a welcome lightness to my day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It runs until 09/07/2016 daily at 14h00 at the Gymnasium. Catch it if you’re looking for something captivating but still managing to be light hearted.

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