Social issues from a dog’s point of view

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Be a better dog!
Be a better dog!

In ‘Be a Better Dog’ at the Soweto Theatre, Seiphemo Motswiri introduces Dog, his owners, his issues, his life and his questions.

“That the dog is a loyal, true, and affectionate friend.” – Sir John Lubbock. (1889, p. 272)

Domestic dogs are never far away from most people’s lives, and often have an understanding of human behaviour. Be A Better Dog tells of a life filled with hardships, friendships and abandonment, told from the dog’s point of view. Attacked trying to defend his mine security guard ‘owner’, Solomon, the dog, semi-conscious, sees his life flashing through his mind as he endures excruciating pain.

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This one-man play by Seiphemo Motswiri raises questions that challenge humans to self-introspect. The play is a re-enactment of the dog’s life with commentary on social issues as it interacts with its various owners. The dog highlights the results of a natural history of operant and classical conditioning within the differing domestic dogs’ home environments. It draws comparison and observations from the ontogenetic causes that are the history of contingencies of reinforcement a dog experiences within human society during its life. It, as thus, brings to light issues of poverty, opulence, class, race, workers’ rights, animal rights, both from human and dog points of view.

Seiphemo Alex Motswiri performs as part of the play Be a Better Dog at the N G Kerksaal in Grahamstown on 4 July 2016 at the National Arts Festival. Motswiri directed and performed in the piece. (Photo: CuePix/Jeffrey Stretton-Bell)
Seiphemo Alex Motswiri performs as part of the play Be a Better Dog at the N G Kerksaal in Grahamstown on 4 July 2016 at the National Arts Festival. Motswiri directed and performed in the piece. (Photo: CuePix/Jeffrey Stretton-Bell)

The play uses humour and light commentary to speak to otherwise sensitive issues of care and abandonment. To what extent is Dog a happy animal, and to what extent a traumatized orphan of human caused-condition? Is any of it his own making and what power did he, as Dog, have to change the situation?

These are poignant questions relevant to a human world at the crossroads of destructive violence, corruption, injustice, racial discrimination, lack of care to the planet and its inhabitants in general. In life we strive to be better human beings, but what is it to be better? And what does it take to be better?

Tickets can be purchased for R80 at Soweto Theatre/ via this link: https://www.sowetotheatre.com/be-a-better-dog/

Be a Better Dog runs at the Soweto Theatre from Thursday March 1 to Sunday March 4. It stars Seiphemo Motswiri.

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