The Fall at the Baxter

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The Fall shares the experiences of seven UCT graduates during the #RhodesMustFall protests
The Fall shares the experiences of seven UCT graduates during the #RhodesMustFall protests

A brand new production shares the experiences of seven UCT graduates during the #RhodesMustFall and subsequent student movements.

Seven recent UCT Drama graduates share their experiences during the #RhodesMustFall and subsequent student movements in a vital new production, The Fall, at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, from 6 to 29 October, at 7pm nightly with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

the-fall-2The Fall is a frank collaborative piece of workshop theatre devised by the cast, facilitated by Clare Stopford, and directed by Ameera Conrad and Thando Mangcu, two members of the ensemble.

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The dynamic cast comprises Conrad (Don’t Shoot the Harbinger, People Beneath Our Feet); Oarabile Ditsele (Woza Albert, Identirrhaging); Tankiso Mamabolo (Nothing But the Truth, Fabulous Nothing); Mangcu (Don’t Shoot the Harbinger, The Shipment); Sizwesandile Mnisi (Woza Albert, Connection to Home); Sihle Mnqwazana (My Children! My Africa!, Identirrhaging) and Cleo Raatus (Black Dog/Inj’emnyama, District Six Kanala).

Given the current climate at tertiary institutions throughout South Africa, this production could not be more relevant, topical and perfectly programmed, focusing on and highlighting burning issues that beg to be addressed. The vital new play adds its voice to the national and worldwide debate and youth-led revolutions against injustices, inequality in education, cultural representation and many other contemporary conflicts. The mass student movement (and the ones that followed throughout the year all over the country) provoked worldwide discourse and action.

Social categorisations such as race, class and gender, as well as the ideologies of patriarchy and sexism – all issues at the core of global conversations and tragedies pervasive in today’s societies – are tackled head-on, as The Fall seeks to unpack discrimination in all its forms.

The production is based on the cast’s personal journeys as people of colour (POC) during the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall demonstrations in 2015, during their final year as students at the University of Cape Town.

These movements, the inspiration for this production, served as a major clarion call to a great number of people of colour at UCT as well as other tertiary institutions all over the country. The campaign for the statue’s removal led to a wider movement to decolonise education across South Africa garnering global attention. The #RhodesMustFall protest began on 9 March last year, and was originally directed against a statue commemorating Cecil Rhodes, situated at the foot of the university’s famous Jameson Steps. A month later, following a UCT Council vote the previous night, the statue was removed.

The Fall hones in on the cast’s individual challenges in the movement as well as those created by the overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination. It provides a point of reference in terms of what motivated students to act and why they found the Rhodes statue offensive. The play hopes to bridge the generational gap between the current generation’s outlook, attitudes and motivations and the older generations’ perspective on topical issues such colonisation, sexuality and racial discrimination. The play also looks back on what gains were made and what developments have evolved as a result of the students’ demonstrations.

The play does not offer solutions to the questions raised by the movements which inspired it, but hopes to create and nurture dialogue – as it did in the workshop process – on intersectional and institutionalised discrimination against the marginalised. The need to educate our country is not a matter that should be up for debate; it’s a national imperative.

The Fall project started after the run of Barney Simon’s Black Dog/Inj’emnyama, at the Baxter Flipside and Hiddingh Campus last year. The challenge of telling the story of students in the 1976 uprisings invited the idea of reflecting on the lives of people of colour in 2016 – which the cast represent. The project raised the question: “If we can tell a story about 1976 so adequately, why can’t we tell a story about ourselves, now, in 2016?” And thus came as a healing process from the experience of Black Dog/Inj’emnyama, while simultaneously taking a retrospective look at the events depicted, and as a reflection of where the lives of students of colour are in 2016.

Set design for the production is by the award-winning Patrick Curtis, with lighting design by Luyanda Somkhence and costume design by Marisa Steenkamp.

The Fall previews at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio from 6 to 10 October, opens 11 October and runs until 29 October at 7.30pm nightly, with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. There is an age restriction of 16 years.

Tickets cost R130 Monday to Thursday and R150 Friday to Saturday. There is a student special of R50 on presentation of valid student identity card.

Booking is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000, online at www.computicket.com or at any Shoprite Checkers outlet. For corporate, block or school bookings, charities and fundraisers, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or sharon.ward@uct.ac.za or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993, or e-mail carmen.kearns@uct.ac.za.

For more information, visit: www.baxter.co.za, facebook.com/BaxterTheatre, twitter.com/BaxterTheatre; #TheFall

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