Ster City; South Africa's joyful pain

05:53 by Kaggwa Andrew
A scene from the production
The most amazing thing in the life of an arts journo is when a pretty famous international star looks at you and gushes; “oh you, I know you from somewhere.”
It was the same thing that happened at the opening ceremony of the very first Kampala International Festival. Only that Lindiwe Matshikiza wasn’t referring to me, but a friend that was seated in the front row.
Well some of you may not know who Matshikiza is but this is the girl that portrayed Zindzi, Nelson Mandela’s daughter in 2013 film, Long Walk to Freedom and State of Violence as Bobedi (Fana Mokoena)’s wife Joy.
She allegedly reminded the daunting actress of her granny from St. Helena, this was when a small camera tied at the end of a pole was being swayed around during the multi lingual production Ster City.
The production done in French, English, Afrikaan, Sotho, Zulu, Dutch, Xhosa and more tells the entire story of South Africa with the use of their bodies, art and a blackboard as a collage.
Ster City is definitely not your usual Ugandan theatre production; for starters, it has a slim cast of two actors – Matshikiza and Nicholas Welch, joined by Dominique Lentin and his music.
From the stripped set up, lighting and mostly provisional costumes, it is clear that our theatre makers straight from the producers to the writers have a lot of bones to pick from Jean-Paul Delore’s play. His transactions were swift and the way they moved from a topic to another was effortless.
But that wasn’t all, the actors’ versatility and use of technology was fascinating. The demonstration of a man using the navel of a character or that re-enactment of the 2010 world cup; Matshikiza even took a jibe at the French team.
I pretty much enjoyed the depiction of Mandela and De-Clerk then the use of random drawings to talk about the country’s turbulent political past.
But as you may know, South Africa’s history is not all smooth, much as Matshikiza and welch were playful most of the times, the anger and pain was too slotted in the plot though carefully and gently placed.
Jean-Paul’s production challenges our theatre in matters of doing stories relevant not only to a couple but a nation as far as thinking about the way forward is concerned.


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