(Break the Silence)
Between 2009 and 2010, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Johannesburg, South Africa, investigating how the freedom songs that galvanized collective struggles against apartheid remain crucial for ongoing post-apartheid mobilizations. In addition to journal articles and a book project, I developed Three Women (Break The Silence),” a solo performance script augmented by collective song. The play is based on my research, examining women’s distinct experiences of vulnerability and community within activist collectives. Three Women arose out of the entanglement I felt of my life with theirs, and the responsibility I carry of sharing their stories with the world and with their families, comrades, and broader communities.
I have been presenting “Three Women” in conferences in collaboration with Vernice Miller, a Jamaican-born theatre practitioner currently based in New York who is directing the project.
Our collaboration with Market Theatre Lab is especially significant as it marks a homecoming for Willeen, one of the three women in the play. Willeen participated in the Market Theatre Lab and relished her experience there. The exercises, based in Tai Chi, and Capacitar, that Remmoho activists embraced in their meetings recalled her artistry, as a part of her that had been silenced. She talked about that moment of reconnection as her spirit remembering her soul. We are grateful to Market Theatre Lab for allowing us to return the work to the activist community that inspired it and do so in a form with which they can readily engage. This is a crucial ethical responsibility. As members of A Laboratory for Actor Training, we are really grateful to Clara Vaughan, Rudy Motseasea, Thandeka Nheke, and The Market Theatre Lab, Dawu Sehlaphi Sibanda, Sehlisiwe Sibanda, Bekie Ntini,
Madoda Mkhobeni, Mpumi Mathabela, Zama KaSibiya, and Raymond Johannes Kraft. Thank you for participating in this journey with us.