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.