Swapping indoor theatre stages and seats for outdoor, socially distanced open air performance areas.

Drama for Life, in partnership with the Wits Theatre, Arts Research Africa (ARA), and the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) are showcasing and rehearsing for an outdoor ritual performance. The show, which is a creative attempt to adhere to covid-19 regulations, will open at the end of April.

The performance, When Things Fall Together, is a ritual performance and a poetic reflection which deals with themes such as the ongoing pandemic, loss, grief and the restoration of the relationship between humans and the earth.

The ritual performance was conceptualised and directed by Professor Warren Nebe, the artistic director for the Drama for Life Theatre Company and written by Tlotlego Gaogakwe who has written for other site-specific projects such as Afriqueer.

The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a great blow to the Arts and Culture sector of South Africa in the past year. Protests have been taking place across the country by artists about the mismanagement of covid-19 relief funds and strict lockdown regulations. Just last month the iconic Fugard Theatre shut down permanently, citing loss of revenue during the pandemic as a reason. Many artists and theatres took their performances online as a stop-gap measure to keep them going, but Nebe says he was inspired to “create a live performance, not digital performance, in the age of the pandemic”.

Nebe says the performance is an attempt to reckon with the immense loss and grief brought on by the pandemic, by tapping into an ecotherapy approach. Ecotherapy emphasizes the importance of human relationships with the earth for mental wellbeing and opposes ecocide which is negligence towards nature.  “The underlying cause of the pandemic is due to the fractured, ecocidal relationship to planet earth” he says.

Sithembiso Khalitshwayo, a performer stated that rehearsing on site means that the weather is a challenge. “There would be mornings of sunshine, rain, mist, cold, heat which informed the way that we would work.”

Nebe told the Wits Vuvuzela that taking the

Sithembiso Khalishwayo rehearsing outside. Photo: Warren Nebe

rehearsals to an outdoor space is “healthy, restorative, meditative [and] relational.”

The security of being with just yourself and colleagues is removed in this open space but the knowledge that the rehearsal space is as big or small as you want it to be is enjoyable adds Khalitshwayo.

The performance will be live at the Emmarentia Botanical Garden in Johannesburg on the 25th and 26th of April. Bookings can be made by contacting Alison.green@wits.ac.za. When Things Fall Together can also be found on Instagram @whenthingsfalltogether.

FEATURED IMAGE: Drama for Life theatre company rehearsing When Things Fall Together. Photo: Warren Nebe.