Unique SA story to showcase in Grahamstown

27 Jun 2016 - 09:30

A number of University of Cape Town productions are hitting the road this week to feature in the 2016 National Arts Festival, taking place in Grahamstown. Among them, a student production titled 'Out of Bounds' that explores the diminutive voices in the ‘emzansi’ story. Namely, the experiences of the Indian community in a post-apartheid South African society. Humanities News spoke to cast member Tazme Pillay to find out what he hopes audiences will take away from the piece.

HN: The piece is set in post-apartheid South Africa. What is it about? 
TP: 'Out of Bounds' is the story of an identity crisis; it's the story of an Indian man's journey running away from home and his subsequent discovery that home and your cultural identity, is often all you have to go back to. It's a beautifully written and imagined piece that really captures the awkwardness and grittiness of Indian identity during and after apartheid. 

HN: Why is this an important story to tell?
TP: This isn't a story that's told very often and I think it's one that needs to be heard, particularly in our current political and cultural climate. This problem of 'Indianess' as a marginality, a sidelined voice almost needs to be addressed. What does it mean to be Indian in South Africa? Especially when our identity has been so informed by other cultures around us. Where do we belong? I’m doing this because I'd love for a young Indian performer to see the piece and go, 'that's me, that's my story'. I think it's time for that to happen, especially at Fest. More so, it's just this universal story of growing up and leaving home; I think we can all relate to that, how we want to forge an identity for ourselves in the world often at the cost of home and family. But then later, all we want to do is return to the start to feel safe, to feel complete. 

HN: Quite a number of UCT productions head to Grahamstown each year. What do you think is significant about this?
TP: I think it's two-fold. Firstly, it's great practice for the professional world. Putting on a show, funding it and travelling with it is really a difficult task but you learn so much about how things operate and how to make things work. For me, it reminded me that at the core of it all is the art, and that comes first always! Aside from that, it's just a brilliant platform for young artists to establish themselves. It's like a showcase of emerging voices and you know that someone out there is going to hear you. It's what we live for. 

HN: What drew you to your current profession in the first instance?
TP: A while ago I would have said that I’m doing this because it's my passion and literally what I live for; but I've come to learn that for me, it's a matter of representation. It's a matter of bodies existing and resisting the enforced codes placed upon them. I don't look like your conventional male actor, and I wouldn't want to anyway. But that doesn't mean I can't play those roles. I’m doing this to change the perception of what an "actor" should be. 

HN: Why did you choose to study Drama at UCT?
TP: Based on what I wanted from my training and how I wanted to train, UCT had the most fitting course. Also the lecturers and people you learn from in the department are phenomenal. UCT presented an amazing opportunity to train and grow amongst some beautiful artists.

HN: What production(s) are you most looking forward to watching at the National Arts Festival this year?
TP: It's an exciting programme this year, a real focus on woman theatre makers. I’m interested in Jemma Kahn's solo work, In Bocca Al Lupo and the all-woman case of Neil Coppens Animal Farm. I’m also seeing a piece that I missed last year but have been dying to watch; Father, Father, Father! Which I have no doubt will be a wonderfully bizarre expedition. 

HN: In your opinion, who are the most important South African theatre & drama professionals and creative artists to watch?
TP: Representation is an important thing for me, particularly the representation of masculinities. I also think that a lot of exciting theatre is happening outside the theatre itself; work by FAKA or Angel-Ho for instance. Its not 'theatre' in the way that people may understand it but then South African theatre is in need of transformation. Then there's Callum Tilbury who's turning drag into a full character study and of course the ever evolving discourse of Gavin Krastin, while Philip Rademeyer's work also tackles masculine identities poignantly. I could go on. Also, the team over at Hungry Minds isn't too shabby either. Full of passion and with amazing stories to tell!