UN­FLINCH­ING

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - – Orielle Berry

He­len Zille speaks in Gra­ham­stown about her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Not With­out a Fight. Thou­sands of vis­i­tors are at­tend­ing the 43rd an­nual Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val, which runs from June 29 to July 9. It is billed as Africa’s big­gest and bold­est cel­e­bra­tion of the arts. Show­cas­ing more than 700 shows in­clud­ing theatre, dance, mu­sic, visual and per­for­mance arts, film, il­lu­sion and cabaret.

WITH DIS­RUP­TION billed as the theme of this year’s Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown, Ameera Con­rad’s no-holds-barred so­cio-po­lit­i­cal drama, Repa­ra­tion, cer­tainly chal­lenges view­ers in ev­ery which way.

As the au­di­ence emerged af­ter the highly un­set­tling look into the fic­tional fu­ture of the coun­try, there was much to talk about out­side the venue, and a fam­ily who had come to Gra­ham­stown from Mthatha to see some of the shows cer­tainly seemed to be rocked by the fi­nale.

Con­rad sets her play in the year 2024, when the pop­u­lace is bay­ing for the blood and de­mand­ing repa­ra­tions for the sins of the for­mer white govern­ment. Land and eco­nomic repa­ra­tions are also part of the deal that the for­mer apartheid vic­tims want to see be­come a re­al­ity.

The Supreme Cadre, pow­er­fully per­formed by Tankiso Mam­abolo, is the new leader, as­sisted by her po­lit­i­cal ad­viser Bhavik Ma­hommed, in­ci­sively played by a grey-haired Kiroshan Naidoo.

A mas­sive cel­e­bra­tion is planned, and Twit­ter celeb and YouTube sen­sa­tion Marco Ado­nis is brought on to tweet the event. Han­nelie, an Afrikaans grad­u­ate from Paarl, well ex­e­cuted (and that’s no pun) by Emma Kotze, is led to be­lieve she has come first in a con­test and meets up with Marco when she’s brought in to join the cel­e­bra­tion, or so they both ini­tially be­lieve.

The Supreme Cadre, a re­cent grad­u­ate and key player in the #FeesMustFall cam­paign, is a for­mer stu­dent of Bhavik, who plays the part of the learned pro­fes­sor to Mam­abolo’s staunch, dic­ta­to­rial leader.

Marco, su­perbly per­formed by Cleo Raa­tus, is the self-opin­ion­ated techno­phobe who comes a crop­per with Bhavik for ex­pos­ing the leader on so­cial me­dia, but man­ages to hold his own. In turn, Han­nelie and he cross swords when it comes to his­tory lessons. Past, present and fu­ture meet in this dark com­edy which takes one through much of our tur­bu­lent past from all points of view.

It re­veals a sense of bit­ter­ness, op­ti­mism, hu­mour, and a fright­en­ing look at just how jus­tice can be played.

Con­rad was the re­cent re­cip­i­ent of a Fleur du Cap award for an­other pow­er­ful pro­duc­tion, The Fall, which was per­formed by for­mer stu­dents and par­tic­i­pants of the stu­dent cam­paign that rocked cam­puses.

Dur­ing her fi­nal year at UCT in 2015, she was in the thick of #RhodesMustFall and part of the team of stu­dents who co-edited the #ShutItDown edi­tion of the Cape Ar­gus.

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE

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