Company: The Mothertongue Project
Walk is a performance piece created in response to Indian artist Maya Krishna Rao’s The Walk. Rao crafted The Walk after the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a 23-year-old student who was tortured, raped and killed by six men on a Delhi bus in December 2012. A few months later, we decided, with Rao’s permission, to create our own version of Walk as a response to the gang-rape and murder of Anene Booysen, a South African teenager, in 2013. The unimaginably horrific assault and deaths of these two womxn was a catalyst to create Walk as a way to honour their memories and to talk honestly about rape culture.
The process of making Walk allowed for the emergence of a series of performed installations, which involve the audience and the performers walking through the pieces together. Although in both South Africa and India there were similarities in public reaction to Jyoti and Anene’s cases, India’s civil response seemed of much greater magnitude compared to South Africa’s. Despite South Africa celebrating 20 plus years of democracy, coupled with a constitution that is a shining example to other countries, violence against people who identify as womxn and gender non-conforming is still prevalent. One ponders whether, as a nation, South Africans have become numb to the violence imposed on womxn and trans people on a daily basis. Have we gone so far as to normalise it?
These questions urge us as performance-makers to create work that stirs, that questions, that galvanizes people into action. Our vision for Walk is centred around a sparse aesthetic that foregrounds the figure of the womxn. Its focus is very much on the seven performers and considering the unavoidable, physical fact of their bodies – a fact which we understand rape culture to seek to obfuscate or erase.
Koleka Putuma, Rehane Abrahams, Sara Matchett, Siphumeze Khundayi, Nolufefe Ntshuntshe, Genna Gardini, Lukhanyiso Skosana
Produced by The Mothertongue Project
Curated by Sara Matchett
Designed by the Company
“This is a stark, deeply moving and absolutely vital addition to the discourse about the levels of sexual violence in this country and others.” – Tracey Saunders, Cape Times, 23 September 2014.
“Walk captivates. Powerful images are created using water, bubble wrap, bandages, a silky nighty.” – Sarah Robson, Critter, 26 September 2014.
“Walk leaves audience at International Theatre Festival of Kerala breathless” – Mini Muringatheri, The Hindu, 26 January 2018.
Sara Matchett – Sara is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama at the University of Cape Town. She is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework® and is the Fitzmaurice Institute’s Regional Director for Africa and India. Her teaching profile centres around practical and academic courses which include, voice, acting, theatre-making, applied drama/theatre, and performance analysis. She is especially interested in interdisciplinary modes of creating. Her research explores the body as a site for generating images for the purpose of performance making and specifically focuses on investigating the relationship between breath and emotion, and breath and image, in an attempt to make performance that is inspired by a biography of the body. As co-founder and Artistic Director of The Mothertongue Project women’s arts collective, Sara has experience in the field of theatre in South Africa, Singapore, India, Ireland, Canada, Kenya and Indonesia as a theatre-maker, performer, director and facilitator. Her most recent work with the collective involved co-conceptualising and directing Womb of Fire with The Mothertongue Project’s co-founder and co-director, Rehane Abrahams.
Koleka Putuma – Award-winning poet and theatre practitioner Koleka Putuma has taken the South African literary scene by storm with her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia. Since its publication in April 2017, the book is in its 6th print run and has been prescribed for study at tertiary level in South African Universities. Collective Amnesia was named 2017 book of the year by the City Press and one of the best books of 2017 by The Sunday Times and Quartz Africa.She was recently recognised as a Rising Star at the 2017 South African Mbokodo Awards. She is the recipient of the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. She has been named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times, one of 12 future shapers by Marie Claire SA, the groundbreaking new voice of South African poetry by OkayAfrica, and one of the 100 young people disrupting the status-qou in South Africa by independent media. She directed Mbuzeni which is performing internationally at Schone Aussicht at JES in Stuttgart and has been invited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival later this year.
Rehane Abrahams – Rehane is a theatre maker, award winning actress and co-founder of The Mothertongue Project. She was most recently seen as the lead in the critically acclaimed Dans van die Watermeid, by Aimee Lekas, directed by Jason Jacobs. Rehane is currently in the process of touring her latest solo show Womb of Fire. Directed by Sara Matchett, the play premiered at NAF 2017 and to date has performed at UJ Con Cowan theatre, ICA Third Space, USWoordfees and the International Theatre Festival of Kerala, India. Upcoming performances include the Baxter Theatre, The Playhouse Women’s Arts Festival, Durban and Afrovibes in Amsterdam. Rehane holds an MA in Theatre from UCT with further training in Butoh and Classical Javanese dance. Her career spans the U.K., U.S.A. and Indonesia as well as her native South Africa.
Siphumeze Khundayi – Siphumeze is an art maker, photographer and facilitator interested in creative ways of bringing together dialogue and artistic practice in relation to African Queer identity. This links to the work she does as artistic director of HOLAAfrica! a digital space that raises awareness on issues of African women sexuality. She has featured various solo and collaborative works within theatre spaces as well as in a number of festivals including Artscape Women’s Festival, Drama 4 Life: Sex Actually festival, GIPCA Live Art, Cape Town Fringe, Infecting the City, and Assitej Cradle of Creativity. Siphumeze has a background in playback theatre and drama therapy being a part of Drama 4 Life Playback Theatre, Bonfire Theatre Company and having worked for Zakheni, a Drama Therapy organization, as a drama practitioner.
Nolufefe Ntshuntshe – Nolufefe studied Theatre and Performance at UCT after she completed the Magnet Theatre Training Programme. She works as the main facilitator for The Mothertongue Project’s Langeberg Youth Theatre Company. She has co facilitated 4 Early years productions with Jason Jacobs. In 2015, she was part of the Magnet Theatre Early Years Company. Performed in Mbuzeni at the ArtsCape Spiritual festival directed by Koleka Puttuma. In 2016 she worked as a performer/facilitator on the FEMME project’s TIE project which toured the Western Cape High Schools. In March 2016 she choreographed and performed Caught in the Crossfire for the Infecting the City Festival. In May 2016, she was cast in three different productions for the ASSITEJ SA Cradle of the Creativity festival: Ekhaya and Scoop by the Magnet Early Years Company, and Mbuzeni all directed by Koleka Putuma. In June/July 2016 she was cast as Blue on Thando Mangcu’s Pieces which was staged at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. She is currently putting together (facilitating/directing) Ebusweni Bothando – Ons is Hier a poetry production with The Mothertongue Project’s Langeberg Youth Theatre Company for the McGregor Poetry Festival.
Genna Gardini – Genna Gardini is a writer based in Cape Town. She holds an MA in Theatre-making from UCT and is currently a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London. Gardini has received various accolades for her work, including a 2016 Fellowship at the Institute for Creative Arts and the 2012 New Coin Poetry prize. She works as a Drama lecturer at CityVarsity and the Poetry Editor for Prufrock. Lukhanyiso Skosana Lukhanyiso is a third year Theatre and Performance student, specialising in Theatre-Making. Originally from Port Elizabeth, he has been in involved in a number productions: Hairspray portraying the character of Seaweed, Noises Off! portraying the character of Gary Lejeune and also Shrek the Musical as the character Donkey. While at high school he received the award for best actor for three years in a row as, a R10000 textbook bursary from the Clover Showtime Awards.
Lukhanyiso Skosana – Lukhanyiso was an Eastern Cape Children’s Choir member for several years, four of which were spent as a soloist for the choir. He went on two International Euro tours with the choir in 2010 and 2012. At UCT he was in Love like Blue in 2017 and is currently on the road with The Mothertongue Project’s Womb of Fire. He wishes to complete his studies at UCT and go on to do his Masters and PhD.