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Mamela – Live Theatre, Newcastle

Script Editors: Gez Casey and Ziphozhake Hiobo

Director: Amy Golding

Reviewer: Anna Ambelez

Singing, lights, seven women and seven chairs take to the space. Mamela centres around the “born free” generation born near the end of Aparthied; seven South African women from the Eastern Cape give their thoughts on family, politics, men, religion and their aspirations based on their personal experiences.

We have our freedom, but more people are starving, more people have no jobs.

Part of the Afrovibes Festival, this verbatim piece is based on true events of these young women’s lives. Verbatim theatre documents real life experiences combining them with other elements like song and dance. Since being founded in the Netherlands 15 years ago, the Afrovibes Festival has steadily grown; celebrating South Africa’s new democracy born twenty years ago after Apartheid ended, which had reigned from 1948 under the National Party who passed laws that intensified segregation.

The choices we make determine our future.

When Mamela (meaning “listen” in isiXhosa – the South African language) premiered in July 2013, it received the Standard Bank Ovation Award for innovation and Artistic Excellence. The director (Amy Golding) is Artistic Director of the Newcastle based company Curious Monkey which works with true life stories. She worked with one of the script editors (Gez Casey) five years ago on Here Come The Girls – another verbatim piece centred on young girls, including refugees and asylum seekers, growing up on Tyneside. When The Swallows Foundation invited Golding and Casey to visit The Eastern Cape, the idea for this piece evolved. Mamela developed over two years of research, workshops and interviews, after which seven women’s stories were chosen from hundreds, and Ziphozhake Hiobo joined as co-script writer. The vignettes that result could come from many cultures, proving that at the end of the day we are all human with the same senses and emotions, no matter what our background. Mamela is one of several events during the festival, at Live and Northern Stage.

The Holy Spirit will come down and Africa will be saved.

Appreciating while all the cast are not actors, unfortunately lines are lost as asides to some of the audience, not being loud or clear enough to be heard; when any accent is used, speech should be considerably slower for unfamiliar ears to attune. The text is interspersed and connected with song and movement, lively and natural, bringing it to life.

The hour long show has an intangible, enigmatic almost ethereal quality. The women are the true stars of this show, four of them actually relating their own experiences with moving simplicity, emotion and honesty. The way they deliver their stores and opinions, so spontaneously and naturally is inspirational.

Does ‘size’ matter!?

Runs until: 6th November 2014

Photo Credit: Tyler Dolan

Script Editors: Gez Casey and Ziphozhake Hiobo Director: Amy Golding Reviewer: Anna Ambelez Singing, lights, seven women and seven chairs take to the space. Mamela centres around the “born free” generation born near the end of Aparthied; seven South African women from the Eastern Cape give their thoughts on family, politics, men, religion and their aspirations based on their personal experiences. We have our freedom, but more people are starving, more people have no jobs. Part of the Afrovibes Festival, this verbatim piece is based on true events of these young women’s lives. Verbatim theatre documents real life experiences combining…

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Charlotte Broadbent. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.