Gone Native: A marriage of brilliant minds

Gone Native - The Life and Times of Regina Brooks
Gone Native – The Life and Times of Regina Brooks

Sociologist Louis Molamo and director Makhaola Ndebele paint pictures with words at the Soweto Theatre.

Sociologist and research consultant Loius Molamu looks into the sensitive and controversial subject of white being black in the story of Regina Brooks. Molamo compiled research material and provided guidance in the scripting of the musical. He has worked as a sociologist for many years at the University of Botswana and later the University of South Africa. He has published Tsotsitaal, a dictionary of the language of Sophiatown.

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Working alongside seasoned Joburg City Theatres’ artistic director and writer Makhaola Ndebele, the production brings to life the life and times of Regina Brooks. Makhaola has written and directed a number of plays, working with some of the best actors and directors in South Africa.

Gone Native is a collaboration of intellectuals, with musical direction from the legendary musician Hugh Masekela. It takes a team of absolute brilliance to put together a production of this magnitude and the Soweto Theatre prides itself in telling a true South African story, with Regina Brooks still being alive.

Regina Brooks and Thandi in 1955 by Bob Gasani (Bailey Seipel Gallery)
Regina Brooks and Thandi in 1955 by Bob Gasani (Bailey Seipel Gallery)

One of the most controversial figures of South African history; a woman who defied apartheid government laws and what was deemed a norm; a white woman who had several relationships with black men at a time where interracial relationships were deemed immoral. Like many preposterous laws of the apartheid regime, working against humanity, Brooks was the embodiment of both bravery and rebellion.

In 1955 she wanted to be re-classified as coloured so she could continue living with black people and keep her child, Thandi, whom she had with one of the men in her life. While living with Sergeant Richard Khumalo, she got arrested and that is what sparked the appeal for reclassification.

During the Soweto Uprisings of 1976, Regina moved to Eldorado Park, a then mostly coloured area. She recalls the area to have been as discriminatory of black people as the white areas she came from, especially because she housed and hid black students during those times.

Always lingering with no sense of belonging, even though all her life she always felt she was home with black people. Black people could not accept a white woman when they were oppressed by white people. White people also found it easy to reject her as she then betrayed their ideals.

A story of love, bravery and courage, Regina defied what was normal and chased her heart’s desires. She found love and lost it, had beautiful children, lived happily and tasted melancholy all at once. A story not so unique to South Africa, Regina escaped an abusive relationship and became a loving, devoted mother to her children.

Soweto Theatre is proud to present this riveting tale of a living love-activist from August 8 to August 20, 2017.

Playing Regina Brooks is the talented Marietjie Bothma whose life is not so different from that of the protagonist.

With only Grade 7 education to her name, Marietjie Bothma went from being homeless to being the speaker during President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration celebrations. However, it was her appearance in a pie advert where she speaks fluent Zulu that got South African tongues wagging. The multilingual actress, whose mother tongue is Afrikaans, can now speak 13 languages including several South African languages and German. She switches between Zulu, Xhosa and Sesotho with ease.

“She was the perfect Regina,” says Makhaola Ndebele, writer and director of the musical. “It was important for the female lead to be fully bilingual, and to be able to sing in Zulu.”

GONE NATIVE: The Life and Times of Regina Brooks runs at Soweto Theatre (Red) from August 8 to August 20, 2017. Tickets are R120 and are available from www.sowetotheatre.com and by calling 0861 670 670.

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