From 5 to 8 September, the Drama Department presented the Honours Directing and Theatre-making Showcase.
The honours students’ directing talents were displayed through various modern interpretations of Greek tragedies, while the third-years brought the productions to life with their acting.
Priyanka Bandu, a drama honours student, commented on the process of developing these productions, “We went through a casting process with the third-years where we as directors planned an audition for them. They came, they did their thing, and we sat in a table discussion and decided who our cast was going to be…
Each director and their talented selves came up with beautiful visions to adapt Greek tragedies into contemporary African theatre… We got 32 plays which we had to choose from, and each chose. Some mushed together different things. And that’s the process. We started rehearsals, and it’s just about each director having their own process.”
Bandu’s production, Piece by Piece, was an interpretation of the story of Medea. In Greek mythology, Medea was a witch cursed by the gods to fall in love with Jason (of Argonaut fame), and she was eventually abandoned by her lover – and so murdered their two children in revenge. Bandu said about the iconic character, “[She is a] very powerful character. Very complicated story. So many layers to unpack in one play.” True to her word, the production tapped into the complex motivations and deep feminine rage of the main character, played with passion by Galaletsang Malomane. On the topic of working with the actors in her production, Bandu said, “It’s a process of facilitation more than telling people what to do. It’s a guiding. It’s a give-and-take. The performers are in themselves also studying directing. They’re also creatives.”
Each production adapted a different tragedy, staging each show in creative ways. One production, (Uns)table, which adapted the story of Electra, took place in the courtyard of the Drama building, the structure itself framing the events of the play. The most striking aspect of the productions was how well they translated into a modern South African context, showing that although these stories are ancient, they are still relevant to explore human emotions. When asked about how it felt for an audience to see her show, Bandu said, “Having people immersed in, or to just come to the theatre is something that I always love, whether it’s to see my show or to see another show… I’m glad that we’re starting to regain this world that we create, even after Covid.”
The Drama Department is active throughout the year – those interested in supporting their work should look out for their next production.
Rebecca van Besouw