Birth of Drama, colomn march 2013.

26 februari 2013

The birth of drama.

We agreed to meet at 12.00. The leader of the community theatre group even confirmed that early morning. Now I am waiting already more that half an hour in the middle of KwaMashu, one of the big townships outsideDurban. Normally half an hour waiting is my Max, after that I leave. But this guy is chasing me already so long in a very charming way, to see his theatre show that I’ll  wait  a little longer, hoping he pops up out of the busy market crowd. I get an SMS, it is him. “I am on my way” he writes. I learned in SA, when people say, “I am on my way” it normally means, “I totally forgot about our appointment, I just remembered, I will first finish my breakfast and than see if I can find a taxi to meet you..” His phone is switched of and I don’t  want to wait any longer. I decide to leave. After 5 minutes my phone rings. I tell him that I am already on my way home. Almost in tears he asks me, begs me,  to come back to our meeting point, he struggled with transport, airtime and al the other possible SA delayers. When I turn the car, my wife who came with me is getting irritated, why am I so nice to people who fuck up? I don’t know the answer. “Well…”shesais“It’ll better be good !”. After an other 15 minutes we’ll find the guy next to a taxi rank and we are on our way to Inanda erea.

Why do I always hope to find some unexpected talent in remote area’s, this will probably be an other community dance group who decided to do drama for the first time and will show us hours of traditional Zulu dance first, nothing wrong with that but it is not where we came for. We’ll end up after a drive of an hour,  in a picturesque part of Inanda with an astonishing few of a river in a deep valley.  The rehearse space is in an empty big Zulu hut. As expected we are treated as very honourable guests. Not only the neighbourhood attends  to see us, they are also part of the dance. Very small boys and girls, youngsters, the older man sit aside and seem to be in charge. The dances are well executed and after that they tell us they will now do their drama. On that moment something very interesting happens, I see it in frond of my eyes and it is beaming me back to the times before the first Greek tragedies. When there was only dance and the whole community participated. There must have been a moment that someone said. I have danced enough, I want to tell a story and you have to listen. Then the dancers sat down and listened  and the story teller added an other storyteller and an other and a drama was born. Only a few participated, the rest became audience. That moment happened in frond of me, in that Zulu hut in Inanda. For the first time some of these dancers decided to tell a story, about the community and those leaving the community to make money in the big city. There where 6 actors and all the 50 other dancers became the audience. They watched a drama for the first time, I never saw such a great interest and curiosity . Even small kids could not keep their eyes of the actors.  They script was still weak but the actors and directing was not bad at all. But that was not of any importance to me. I felled,  I witnessed a historical moment. Now I am sure, it is not just dramaturgical theory or a myth. Drama did evolve out of traditional community dance, a long time ago. But when you are lucky and  patient and wait long enough, you can witness it today as well.