My directing workshop was attended by 18 directors, writers, and actors in the Delft township. They ranged in age from what seemed to be 21 to 45. About half were men and half were women. We discussed my directorial approach to The Brothers Size and I used my research, rehearsal process, and design approach to uncover the elements that go into directing any play. We also discussed how to stage a play with actors, develop new plays, the collaboration between director/actor, director/playwright, and with designers. A two-hour workshop became two and a half . We also spent a bit of time discussing the politics of Black Theatre in South Africa, in America, and worldwide in contemporary times. We discussed activist theatre, and how to find the personal, familiar, and psychological aspects of these stories
My impression is that due to scarcity of resources (i.e., money, space, equipment, access to training, and the complexity of people’s lives) the township actors have not had much support to grow professionally. The passion, determination, talent, and creativity of these young actors, writers, and directors is contagious though. The stories they have to share are endless, and their natural abilities amazing. They are hungry for knowledge and learn very quickly. I tapped back into personal resources and knowledge I have taken for granted in a more privileged United States professional regional theatre system.
Our only preview at The Market Theatre was before a full house of mostly local, theatre professionals from in and around Johannesburg. I held a 45 minute discussion with the actors and audience immediately following this preview on stage. The questions and comments were quite similar to the discussions we held in Cape Town, but had a bit more edge. Clearly some of the black artists in Johannesburg were more suspicious of whether this American play was speaking down to them. I believe this had more to do with how disenfranchised they feel than the production. Most of the audience felt the play did quite the opposite and brought ritual and theatricality back to the stage, and deeply moved them. The themes, issues, physicality, and musicality of the play blew folks away. They thought it was great. We got a standing ovation at curtain and after the discussion.