Holy Contract at the Cape Town Fringe Festival
Holy Contract, U-TT’s first ever theatre production, challenges the relationship between art and architecture through the creation of a theatrical project-event. The work explores unconventional forms of collaboration through the research, conception, design and production of genre-defying performance.
Having worked for four years within Cape Town’s informal settlements, this theater production was the result of real stories that emerged through interactions with residents in the township of Khayelitsha. We approach theater as an alternative means of making and activating city spaces, and Holy Contract was conceived as a form of artistic activism, intended as the first step towards building a new theater for the community.
The project is presented in collaboration with Theatre4Change, a non-profit organization that works to bridge the gap between mainstream theater and talent in the townships. Founded by actor, presenter, writer, and director, Mandisi Sindo, the organization aims to make theater accessible to a diverse audience, while prioritizing the empowerment of actors living in Khayelitsha.
Inspired by the late poet and musician, Gil Scott-Heron, Holy Contract is set against the backdrop of South Africa’s contemporary urban challenges, tackling themes around social justice and identity politics. Dialogue switches between Xhosa and English, as the protagonist faces tensions in a dream-like reality. His frustrations, ethical conflicts and resilient sense of hope are almost tangible as he journeys to overcome fate.
The script was written during a series of workshops run with the actors in Khayelitsha. Scott-Heron’s work, which often built upon parallels between racial oppression in the United States and South Africa’s Apartheid regime, played a key role during the project’s inception, with existing lyrical content informing and inspiring the creation of new material.
The performance debuted at the Cape Town Fringe Festival in October 2016, with shows at the Makukhanye Art Room, South Africa’s only Shack Theatre, Guga S’Thebe in Langa and Cape Town’s City Hall.
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