When I was invited to attend a multilingual show in French, English, Afrikaans,Sotho, Tswana, Dutch, Xhosa, Zulu and more, I, somewhat inclined to be monolingual, was nervous about the whole thing, all the more so when I realised that it was the intention to tell out the entire history of South Africa from pre-historic times to present (how long can I sit through a show I don’t understand?) I attended anyway and loved it! It’s comprehensible, accessible and absolutely delightful.
Two actors, Lindiwe Matshikiza, and Nick Welsh, both polyglots living in Johannesburg tell out the history broadly using a geo-political base. They start with the ancestors of modern man and move through the history of this country in ways that are often amusing, sometimes shocking and sometimes even a little confusing.
The work is out of the ordinary and the audience gets to watch the actors use a wide array of media to very good effect. One of these ‘effects’ is live music by French musician Dominique Lentin. The collaboration work directed by Jean-Paul Delore between the two actors went to France first, then it was reworked for South African audiences where it went to the National Arts Festival in July 2012. Only now, in September 2013, are Johannesburg audiences being given a very brief opportunity to see Ster City. It is only on for four performances in the small Laager Theatre at the Market Theatre Complex.
Other credits include lighting and scenography by Patrick Puechavy and Guillaume Junot, costumes and make-up by Catherine Laval, video, photos and scenography by Sean Hart, projection and lights by Simon Junot, sound by Rayne Ramsden.
The work is clever, making use of much historical and geographical haziness to keep the concepts of the ever changing land, cultural and social boundaries as fluid and unclear as they might seem to people who make only a brief acquaintanceship with South African history, but containing enough truth to be challenging to South African audiences.
This French – South African collaboration is part of the “Carnets Sud / Nord”, a musical and theatrical travelling laboratory which has toured since 2002 in Brazil, France, Central and Southern Africa. It was sponsored by the French Institute of South Africa.