My Freedom, My Expression was the first event of the day. It was an art display at a museum. The guide informed us that the art had been done by youth that were mentored to do art in a program. Most of the artists did not go to school for their art—they had no formal training. There was some high quality art, and it was meant to represent the freedom of creativity that can be given to those in subjugated populations, such as Blacks, women, lower socio-economic status individuals, and those that are not heterosexual. This was about finding beauty, creativity, and emotion in nature.
We then went to a play entitled “Race”, which was one of my favorite theatre pieces. It was very Americanized, because it was done on Broadway, which probably explains why it was so easy for me to be entertained by it. It was interesting to see the affirmative action struggles presented for display and how they can play out for our bad. The fact that the most marginalized, the Black woman was the antagonist, created an unexpected turn in the plot.
Of course, there were elements of race, gender, inequality, and law that were seen in this piece. Trying to legally navigate these areas of subjugation has always been a complicated task, so it was amazing to see how the white lawyer in the firm tried to use race as a jumping point to help those that had been previously marginalized, and how one that had been historically marginalized used the power she now had to tear down those that previously marginalized her.
I also can appreciate how they left some things to the imagination, such as what the young woman had been doing overseas, and also whether or not the man was innocent. One thing that frustrated me though, was the fact that it was supposed to be an American play, and the Black man was supposed to be American, but he had such a heavy accent it was not only hard to believe it, but hard to understand him.
We then went to see Reclaiming Body, Reclaiming Self, which was a physical theatre piece on being a woman and reclaiming the inner power every woman has over her body. So many times as woman we have others try to control our bodies, and they were speaking up and saying it is time to have personal control over body and regain the confidence from it. You had an all Black young lady cast, who later told me they were all students at a high school in Cape Town, who fused singing, and physical theatre to produce a piece that spoke on the personal struggles each young lady may face, from abortion choice, to sexuality, to femininity, to relationships with men, to shaving.
A handful of us then stayed at the Monument after the show because they was a free show going on in the common area. It was a performance sampling display, and there were plenty of different acts that came on and did 6 minute pieces. Even though this was not on our schedule, I enjoyed it a lot because it gave us a chance to witness a broad array of the different talent that had come for the festival. It was hosted by a local radio station, with two vibrant personalities that made the display even more interesting.
There were dance troupes, indigenous dancers, comedians, musicians, and free giveaways. It was a family friendly event (except for one of the hosts and his inappropriateness) and it was very fun to participate in.
Cradle of Humankind was the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. It was a very crude and abstract was of describing creation and I struggle with even calling it art. It was very frustrating personally, and initially testing my lack of patience as the characters aimlessly wondered around the stage for the first ten minutes with no seemingly obvious point in mind.
I try to stay very open-minded, but it was really hard for me to even follow, and my patience wore thin. It was supposed to be a tale of creation, seeing as how humankind began in Africa. But there was simply aimlessly walking around stage by naked people. I don’t understand why the man was having sex with a monkey. I don’t understand why he came out in heels. I don’t understand why he had his 90-year old something nanny come out on stage naked. It was a very abstract show and it left me frustrated and annoyed.
Afterwards we saw Ster City, which was an extremely creative and entertaining physical theatre piece. It was done by a young Black female and a young white male and it was a innovative way to show the history of South Africa. They used many props and avenues to educate us and entertain us. I think that worked very well with each other and complimented each other with their personality and their style of performing.