Monday, January 17, 2022

Theatre brings Tswana culture to the stage

The stage at Maitisong was brought to startling life on Thursday as the talented director, Moratiwa Molema, staged the first performance of her play, “Rebirth of the Ostrich”.

The drama proved to be a musical treat as it blended various musical styles to produce an exciting piece of theatre. Traditional strings, drums, rattles, violins, piano and even a saxophone were employed to bring to life a diverse experience of sound. This goes without even mentioning the choir and the actors who had to include singing and dancing as part of their performances.

The musical influences of the play include folk songs, opera and Jazz, which are all fused together masterfully.

The storyline is fertile ground for a number of different interpretations but the themes deal with love and redemption. The play is based on a story of the same name by Arthur Markowitz and Molema explains that she was attracted to the concept of rebirth.

“When you die or go through any difficulty that makes you feel like you can’t go any further, having faith can show you that it really isn’t over for you; that you can actually do anything you set your mind to.”

The director, who is of mixed German and Tswana descent, got into stage performance at an early age as she was a rhythmical gymnast from the age of six.

She went on to study digital art at film school and later decided to combine her digital experience with her love for the stage. She is now a professional theatrical director and says that she is optimistic for the development of theatre in Botswana.

“It’s actually very difficult to find people who can combine acting and dancing ÔÇô Professional artists. I know it’s challenging to make a living out of art in Botswana but hopefully, with good productions, people will start taking us more seriously. I can only hope that the theatre program at UB will start producing professional artists so that we can really take these things out there.”

Molema says that her aspiration is that, if she is given the opportunity to stage the play in a city like New York, where theatre is taken seriously, it will be at the appropriate standard but the audience must recognise an African story in an African context. “People should expect to see something that is distinctly Botswana but the presentation and quality are at an international level.”

Hosting the evening’s proceedings was the company, Art FunKtionz, an organisation committed to hosting monthly parties themed around fine art; it is a side project of Molema’s. “We take fine art out of the gallery and into a party. I’m the curator and we have two resident DJs who handle music at these functions.”

Provided Molema can find a sponsor, the play will be staged a second time at the Maitisong festival, an event whose date is still yet to be finalised.

“Rebirth of the Ostrich” is certainly a treat for anyone who can appreciate live performance and has a healthy interest in a diverse range of musical genres.

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