I have written about Sara Baartman before (look out for the links below this article – they should turn up) and she fascinates me.
This work is a fictional work by Sylvaine Strike (director), PJ Sabbagha (choreography) with music by Concord Nkabinde. It imagines only her journey from the Eastern Cape to England, a period of some eight weeks via St Helena.
During this time we get the impression of her life at the time – an ambiguous mess of partly consensual, partly abusive treatment. One gets to empathise with her as a woman, as a person of colour in an era where human rights were trampled and as a fellow human being.
CARGO: Precious is filled with wonderful rich images which provide a foil for both the drama portrayed by Daniel Buckland and William Harding as well as the superb choreography of PJ Sabbagha as Fana Tshabalala, Nosiphiwo Samente, Thabo Kobeli, Charlston van Rooyen and Thulani Chauke dance it. Lighting is by Thabo Pule and Alex Farmer, and the wonderful set and costumes are by Sasha Ehlers. Music is by Concord Nkabinde. Ali Monyanye Madiga is the stage manager.
I loved the work for what it was – an evocative and poignat look at a very young woman leaving her home on a journey from which she would never return alive. If one is expecting a treatise on Sarah Baartman, a woman who has subsequently become a symbol for the abuses suffered by women, particulary black women, at the hands of men, both black and white, then this is not the right place to look.
Well done to the creative and interpretive team, and thanks to Dance Forum and Dance Umbrella for making this magnificent work possible. The performance I saw took place at The Market Theatre as part of the Arts Alive / Dance Umbrella 2014.