Text: Culture Writer
Photograph: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG — Postcards: Bodily Preserves is an explosive new perspective on trauma, vulnerabilities and the stories stored in the bodies of women. Written and directed by the most adventurous playwright of her generation—Refiloe Lepere—the play looks at how our bodies remember traumatic events. It is a deep, ritualistic turbulent exploration on how we store memories—we preserve records in our bodies because there is something in them that defies understanding but we want to grasp the conspicuous, and feverish. The focus is on the portrayal of power, how the choreography of the human body creates meanings — abstract or concrete.

“The play comes from a space of being trapped in this body of human, woman, and noting all the postcards, letters, notes that life has left,” explains the creator, Refiloe Lepere. “I wondered how are we trapped in this, or free from, or in a temporal lapse of? Postcards: Bodily Preserves, is an experiment in embodied encounters,” she says.

In the play a woman called Maleeto, is introduced to women she finds at as body parts in her lovers house. She questions the reliability of witnessing their trauma, their experiences and the faithfulness of narrative. She together with the women embodies the stories, because that what trauma demands. The recollection of stories/trauma does not happen in the clear, linear way in which we are used to thinking about memory. Sometimes, happenings can be a blink in reality.

Postcards: Bodily Preserves examines the casualties the everyday and people whose lives hang in the balance. “I’ve found that the only way to make theatre that gets the audience thinking is when I feel uncomfortable in making it,” says Lepere.

Performed by Faith Busika and Mammatli Thakudi-Nzuza, choreographed by Lerato Sekhibane, it draws heavily from orality, storytelling, rituals, and celebrations, the performance examines how bodily behaviours are repeatable and embodied activities, and how these bodily encounters change due to context, space, gender or politics.

The play is about unforgettable female characters whose outward dissimilarities belie their inescapable link: a traumatic past plagued by a cycle of violence and abuse. It brings to life a series of harrowing stories that weave together each character’s friends, family, lovers, and therapists into an explosive narrative that uncovers the darkest corners of humanity — and shatters our notions about trauma.

Dates

Performance
Thursday 29 November 2018
Friday 30 November 2018

Biographies

Playwright and Director
Refiloe Lepere is an internationally acclaimed director, writer, dramaturge and educator. Her numerous theatre credits include Between Sisters, Jozi Shorts, Talking Black, Songs for Khwezi and Bitesize Theatre. Her international plays include; Postcards: Bodily Preserves (Germany), Money for shoes (Botswana), Heading Out (US); Disappearing Act (US) and Black in the Box (US and Canada).

Actors
Faith Nonkululeko Busika is an award-winning actress; a director, a registered drama therapist and lecturer. She has worked locally and internationally. Her international directing credits include; Blood Sugars. Her acting credits include; Egoli, Agnes of God, Through Positive Eyes and many others.

Mammatli Thakhuli-Nzuza is a facilitator, trainer, lecturer, performer and storyteller. She is an accredited CCE (Community Capacity Enhancement) facilitator and trainer through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. She facilitates community dialogues in Moutse East Village in Limpopo since 2011. She also trains teachers and artists in Applied Theatre and Drama methodologies in the DFL Mvuso School program.

*Postcards: Bodily Preserves forms part of the Drama for Life 10thAnniversary Conference to be held from 28th November to 8thDecember 2018. IT will be presented in the Wits Fine Art, MAFA Project Space, with fine artists Zinhle Gule and Nthabeleng Masulubele designing the set.