Today’s rehearsal begins with a business meeting.
There’s a lot of business on any production, but when you’re touring Africa logistics metastasize.
When do we fly? Who picks us up? Where will we stay? Who can eat what? What do we wear, so what must we pack? Where are the shows, and how will people know? What about safety? What about health?
Regina Vorria, our producer, is the point of our spear in attacking these questions, and thankfully she’s on hand to conduct the company meeting today. The headlines are Cape Town and vaccines. After consulting our South African company members and considering our contacts overseas, we’ve decided to make Cape Town the second leg of our journey. We will look to perform in township schools and other public venues. Excitement is high for the chance to visit Robben Island during our tour.
At this point in the meeting Mosher paused to dip a toe in the political side of our project. How do we do this, he wondered, without sending the message of “here come the rich Americans bearing culture”? We are traveling to places rich, already, in the theatre of social protest, places quite used to being looked in on and down at from wealthier parts of national and international society. Truthfully we are traveling to places that may know more about our lives than we know about theirs. It would be an act of arrogance disastrous to our journey if we were to stroll in as if we had something to teach anybody.
Phumzile agreed that these fears are well-founded. We must be certain that we visit these communities and go about our work in the spirit of sharing and exchange. The performances of Antigone are at the center of our journey, but there is much more to this project. We will be having talkbacks, workshops, and visiting with members of the community. The workshops may be on theatre practice – acting exercises, say – or they may be discussions of important issues raised by the play. In this sense, our performance of Antigone becomes (crucially) neither a lesson nor an act of charity, but a sort of offering to open conversation. It is one thing shared between artist and audience, visitor and host. And more will come, to enrich us both.
Judging from energy in the room, it’s an exchange our company is eager to begin.