“Amajuba shows us far more than sadness, it is also about joy, intimacy, energy, the will to survive.” —The Scotsman
AfricaNOW: Currents of a Continent, the Walker Art Center’s ongoing exploration of contemporary expression from across sub-Saharan Africa, continues with
The Farber Foundry’s Amajuba: Like Doves We Rise
at 8 pm Thursday–Saturday, February 22–24, and at 2 pm Sunday, February 25, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Based on the lives of the five cast members, Amajuba is a vivid and mesmerizing portrayal of growing up in apartheid South Africa, a work that transcends time and place with universal issues that confront humanity, particularly those of the modern city. At once powerful, humorous, and deeply moving, this new theater work by South African director/playwright Yael Farber (one of the country’s most innovative and expressive theatrical directors) is a tightly bound narrative of jarring authenticity and joyous celebration. Through movement, unforgettable vocal work, and the timeless power of storytelling, this immensely uplifting performance transforms even the grimmest of realities into art: allow yourself to be swept away. A postshow discussion with the cast and members of aMaze, a local nonprofit with an award-winning antiracist educational program in use by Minnesota schoolchildren, takes place following the Thursday performance.
Committed to creating new theater in South Africa amidst the extraordinary challenges facing artists without funding, The Farber Foundry was formed to give voice to the country’s shattered history and provide a forum for both healing from the past and visualizing the future.
Under the direction of Yael Farber, the company has collaborated with South African artists over the past 10 years. The works range from deeply personal testimonies (Woman in Waiting—the biographical journey into the female life lived under Apartheid; He Left Quietly— a survivor’s experiences of South Africa’s Death Row; and Amajuba to radical “re-visionings” of the classics (SeZaR—a highly charged adaptation of Julius Caesar; and Molora—a reworking of the Oresteia Trilogy into the context of the Truth Commissions as an examination of revenge).
Award-winning director and playwright Yael Farber is an artist of international acclaim. Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has earned a reputation for powerful works which seek to articulate the experiences of South Africans as well as her radical re-visionings of the Classics. Farber directed and collaboratively wrote A Woman in Waiting, which was developed at The Joseph Public Theatre in New York and played on London’s West End. This production has garnered several international awards, including a Scotsman Fringe First in Edinburgh 2000, and a BBC Gold Sony Award for Best Drama. In 2001, Farber was commissioned by the Haus de Kultuur in Berlin to create the acclaimed He Left Quietly, which she wrote with Duma Kumalo, a survivor of apartheid while on South Africa’s Death Row, was staged in Dublin and Amsterdam. SeZaR, her radically adapted Julius Caesar, won her several awards, including a VITA Best Production and Best Director, and toured extensively in the U.K. and Northern Ireland with the support of the Oxford Playhouse. It was also the Oxford Playhouse that toured Amajuba to the U.K. in 2003 and 2004 in association with The Farber Foundry. Directed by Farber and written in collaboration with her cast, Amajuba enjoyed great success at The Barbican, and won the Angel Herald Award at Edinburgh last year. Most recently, Farber created and directed Molora, her adaptation of the ancient Greek Oresteia Trilogy, commissioned when Farber won the Standard Bank Artist of the Year Award in 2003. It was presented at the Laokoon Kampnagel Festival in Hamburg last year, and in Japan this year to outstanding acclaim. Farber won her first national Best Director Award for her multiple award-winning production of Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and F**king. She is a past invitee of the Lincoln Theatre Director’s Workshop; was a resident artist at the Mabou Mines Theatre Company in New York; and was invited to develop a new work at the Sundance Theatre Laboratory in Utah, USA. Farber is currently writing the biography of Duma Kumalo about his experiences on South Africa’s Death Row.
Bongeka Mpongwana is a versatile actress, singer, and dancer who grew up in Cedarville (known by the locals as “Stavella”), a small village in the Transkei on the eastern coastline of South Africa. After studying at Clairwood High School in Durban, she attended Pretoria Technikon where she graduated in 2001 with a National Diploma in Drama. She gained invaluable experience in the student productions: Conflicting Motions; The Nun’s Romantic Story (lead); Ancient Stars; Curl Up and Dye and Beauty en die Bees. Bongeka appeared in two short films: Stronghold (lead) and When We Were Kids, and has been involved in AIDS education through the medium of theater in the production Check It Out. In 2004, she played the lead role in Taste Like Strawberries at the Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg.
Phillip “Tipo” Tindisa
Phillip Tindisa started acting in 1985. He formed G.B.R. Productions in 1992 and received a diploma in drama in 1997. He has performed in the following student and mainstream productions: Tselane and the Grand by Dos Molele, Threepenny Opera by Laten Poren; Silent Voice, The Big Three Boys by Aubrey Sekhabi; Urban Reality and Messiah by Paul Grootboom; Vryburg Song by Itumeleng Motsikoe; and Amajuba, including its tours in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
Jabulile Tshabalala was initially involved with community development projects. In 1994 she joined Gibson Kente’s School of Acting, and the following year appeared in her first television series, Mama’s Love (supporting character Hloniphile). In 1996 she performed in Gibson Kente’s stage production Mfowethu. In 1998 she completed her second television series as a lead character, Lahliwe. She has also performed in the industrial theater production The Building Has Begun by Don Sugar Mlangeni. In the year 2000 she joined the North West Arts Council and performed in a contemporary dance piece by Ellington Mazibuko. She has performed in Coca-Cola by Aubrey Sekhabi; Vryburg Song, Julius Caesar and Maru by Itumeleng Motsikoe; and Amajuba. In addition to her acting skills she has also recorded two albums as a backing vocalist.
Tshallo Chokwe began his theater career in semi-professional productions such as Phata-Phata (1984/85). He was a finalist in the national Shell Road to Fame contest, studied at Wits Drama School, and has performed in Bopha, Woza Albert! and The Beaters, directed by Aubrey Sekhabi and Sum and Total by Victor Maloka. In 1991–93 he toured Germany and Denmark with Ababhemi. He won Best Actor in Technikon Pretoria with Tony Kgoroge’s Rough Tough Time. He also won Most Promising Young Actor for his performance in Not With My Gun directed by Aubrey Sekhabi and has been featured in various productions with North West Arts, including Urban Reality by Paul Grootboom in 1998; The Stick by Aubrey Sekhabi in 2000; Master Harold and the Boys directed by Jerry Pooe in 2003; and Amajuba.
Roelf Matlala received his certificate in Drama from The Phakama Project & Action School of Drama and has performed in such productions as Hell We Can and Black Age by the international award-winning director Selaelo Maredi. Other productions include: Short Hair, Flat Nose and Third Coming by Martin Koboekae. Matlala was awarded Best Actor for his role in Black Age at the Stop Crime Drama Festival, and was in the Best Production award-winning God Will Come at the Windy Brow Arts Festival.
Tickets to Amajuba: Like Doves We Rise are Thursday $18 ($15 Walker members); Friday-Sunday $25 ($20 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.