AMEERA Conrad, 23, is part of UCT drama’s extraordinary class which graduated at the end of 2015. Acutely tuned into the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements, many of these theatre-makers have become cultural activists and are generating thought-provoking and challenging work.
The multi- talented Conrad writes, directs and performs. She is appearing in The Fall at the Baxter from June 8-24 along with six other 2015 drama graduates. The Fall is being staged by the Baxter to coincide with Youth Month. The rest of the performers are Oarabile Ditsele, Tankiso Mamabolo, Thando Mangcu, Sizwesandile Mnisi, Sihle Mnqwazana and Cleo Raatus.
The Fall was work-shopped in October by eight theatre-makers under the mentorship of UCT drama lecturer Clare Stopford. They shared their experiences of the student protests and framed their observations within the larger framework of sexuality, gender, race, identity, equality, discrimination, etc. Seven characters were distilled from the material. Conrad and Mangcu assembled and curated the stories of the characters.
“The script itself came out of a series of improvisations with the entire cast which would be recorded on a cellphone or laptop and then Thando or I would then take those recordings and transcribe them for the group, and as a collective we would edit them,” said Conrad.
“Either myself or Thando would then scribe the edits and keep track of the character arcs and all the theatre maker-y things. But the stories and the choices were shared amongst the cast.
There are seven performers in the current production. Kgomotso Khunoane – who was part of the original collective – moved to Johannesburg, so is no longer is in the piece but Conrad said: “We have always had seven characters, but when we had our first workshop session (in March 2016) we had eight people working on the script.”
Response from audiences? “We were amazed at the response. People from all across the race, age, and gender spectra made up the audiences and often times some people would stay behind to chat to us after the show. Older white people who had lived during apartheid
cast: Back, Cleo Raatus, Tankiso Mamabolo and Sizwesandile Mnisi; middle, Oarabile Ditsele, Sihle Mngwazana and Thando Mangcu; front, Ameera Conrad.