Cast: Denise Newman, Faniswa Yisa, Shaun Oelf & Buhle Ngaba
Writer: Nadia Davids
Director, Choreographer & Scenography: Jay Pather
Still Photographs: John Gutierrez
On a still, cool day in the east of a city by the sea, three sounds only: a bulldozer’s engine, a forgotten song, a canon that tells the time. Behind the bulldozer, a sign: Luxury Mall Coming Soon. As the vehicle moves in to clear ground, it strikes at something unexpected…
What Remains fuses text, dance and movement to tell a story about the unexpected uncovering of a slave burial ground, about the archaeological dig that follows and about a city haunted by the memory of slavery. When the bones emerge from the ground everyone in the city – slave descendants, archaeologists, citizens, property developers – are forced to reckon with a history sometimes remembered, sometimes forgotten.
Loosely based on uncovered burial grounds in Cape Town and other global sites, What Remains is a story both of and not of the Cape. Four figures – The Archaeologist, The Healer, The Dancer and The Student – move between bones and books, archives and madness, the uncanny and the known, memory and magic, waking and dreaming, paintings and protests, as they try, desperately, to reconcile the past with the now.