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Quispamsis NB, New Brunswick
November 6, 2003
“You, Me,” depicts the other side of the ongoing struggle from the two women’s point of view. The man’s wife comes from a simpler way of life: raising a family, a home, gathering food--the daily routine of survival. While the woman from the glitzy nightlife tries to draw the man into her web. In the end they realize, like the men, how to resolve their differences, because they are really the same.
As people of Sophiatown were expressing their life through tapping another form of expression was developing in the mining camps. It was the gumboot dances. Eventually both forms would meet and the struggle would continue between the tapers and the gumboots. Both groups try to out dance the other, but finally they realize it can not be done and a harmony is built between themselves.
South Africa is infatuated with football (soccer) and the youth of today have continued their self –interpretation of their historical culture. The Sophiatown dance and the gumboot dance has been replaced with Pantsula. Again, a fast paced dance which celebrates the people’s life.
We have now come full circle and the Children of Africa celebrate the same way that they had started – with pride and diversification. The finale states this in four lines:
We look at the dawn and it’s an African dawn,
And we feel like we feel – ‘cos we’re African born
And we’re proud, and we’re home
And we’re proud to call Africa home.”
Visit their at this website.
From journal South Africa Part 5 or 7
A blackened stage, a time before time began. Your senses are impregnated with one view. There seemingly hanging in space is a relief map of the African continent, where all life began, where time began.
Slowly this sleeping giant awakens. A slow beat of a solitary heart is heard in the distance by the beating of a drum. As the drummer continues the words are repeated "this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country, South of Africa."
Man then conquers and becomes the warrior of the land. The words of the song state "When the Sun first rose, it found us awake and waiting. We rode the wind, we silenced the hurricane. Look at us, we have been here before."
Out of any Garden of Eden must come conflict and this is heightened by the presence of a warrior, joined by a woman and a second warrior trying to become part of the twosome. Thus is born the stick dance. It is a rite of passage for the man. Using sticks and the stamping of feet leads to the building of a fire and man’s survival.
Even early man recognized in his need that there is a higher being to give thanks for his blessings. To express that the fireside chant "kealebogo" came into existence.
Searching for their roots even as early man began there was that need to know about the past and the future. Each one was asking the other – "where are you from – where are you going to?" – The solitary flute awakens all in the song "Inyoni Yophezulu."
This theme continues to build with the addition of more pipes and mbrias. Finally the crescendo cumulates with the wail of the saxophone bringing us into the twentieth century.
Quickly the scene evolves into Sophiatown. The rhythms are created the same traditional way, with tapping replacing drumming and the saxophone replacing the pipes.
The only visible fire is in the enthusiasm of the men and women through their energetic music and dance. This carries on though out the night until a lone woman appears looking for her husband. She pleads with him to come back home in the song "Buyani Madoda."
He does not respond and ends up in jail. Here another struggle emerges once again. Man verses man. Coming for different worlds, having different values, wanting different goals, the struggle continues. Testing each other through feats of strength the two men resolve their differences.
And the journey continues in part three.
November 3, 2003
WOW! What a show.
WOW! What a performance.
WOW! What a message.
Gold Reef Theatre proudly presents the world famous musical "African Footprint". That is what the billboard should, would and could read for this play. Richard Loring’s lasting tribute to the people and land called Africa is a landmark that should not be missed. This musical brings to life the history and culture of a land that is so diverse that one can scarcely take it all in in just one sitting.
From the depths of the emerging Children of Africa through the fireside chant "Kealebogo", from the bushmen and Sophiatown to the dueling footprints and Pantsula sport, finally returning full circle to the Children of Africa. This play is explosive in its delivery of the history of the people. It varies from the fast pace of the stick dance to the hard breaking love song of "You, Me".
Don Mattera poetry that emerges through out the play brings the various aspects of lives of the people to life.
This land, South of Africa,
The whole land
each grain of sand
North to South,
East to West
The given earth, the best land
The prostrate valleys,
The angry mountains,
The smiling hills
This beautiful, beautiful, beautiful country
Must be healed
The journey of the musical began in 1995 when Richard Loring attended the opening of "Miss Saigon" in Australia. From here he saw the need for a similar story for South Africans. Richard found other dedicated people with similar dreams, Don Mattera brought his poetic skills, Dave Pollecutt joined the adventure to add his musical talents and Debbie Rakusin and David Matamela brought the cast to life with their unique brand of choreography.
Finally, on the Eleventh of May 2000 the breath of life and the exuberance of the play exploded on the world at the Globe Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa. From that point on it grew and grew until today it has become an international success story.
Come join the journey with me ……. (see part 2)
October 30, 2003
From journal 5TH WEEK OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN ADVENTURE
November 18, 2002
The show itself is being in Gold reef city which is a little entertainment hub on the outskirts of Jo’burg boasting all the usual tacky casinos, Ferris wheel, etc.
So the show began at 20.15 and the next ninety minutes we were treated to a fantastic array of African drums, tribal dancing, tap shoes and some serious saxophone.
All this was done explaining the history of the black culture and how music played such a major factor in it.
There was one dance in particular called gum-boot dancing (Wellington boots) here the musical beat is brought about by slapping the Wellie with the palm of the hand. I understand this may not sound too impressive but it started with one dancer and one tap-dancer playing off each other. These dancers were joined by another nine of each and at this stage you could feel the intense rhythm and beats through the seats.
I’m sure I could speak for the entire theater when I say that we were absolutely mesmerized from start to finish.
From journal Jo`Burg (working/living/loving)