The Dualism of African Storytelling in Theatre
It has been a bit over two weeks since Theatre Duo, a South African theatre collective consisting of Billy Langa and Mahlatsi Mokgonyana, landed in Bayreuth, Germany for a two moths European Tour. This voyage will see the indomitable duo visiting Germany, Norway, and Sweden and will encompass research residencies, workshops and performances.
“We are currently in a Research residency with BayFinK at Iwalewhaus, the institution of advanced African Studies until April 15 2019. During our stay we have shared our expertise and ideas with the colleagues of the Bayerische Forschungs-und Informationsstelle BayFinK at Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth,” Mokgonyana candidly states.
Iwalewahaus is a space for the production and presentation of contemporary art. The institution hosts exhibitions and academic research, it also archives recent developments in contemporary African and Diaspora cultures, which are presented and refined together with artists and institutions.
Langa extends on Mokgonyana’s breath by gleefully stating that, “with the guidance of Katharina Fink and colleagues from Oshogbo, Nigeria Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding, we will situate the production of two pieces, one on the legacy of Bloke Modisane a South African Writer, Actor and Journalist which will be presented this year in Sophiatown, and the other one a re- and un-doing of one of the most celebrated African writers, Chinua Achebe's seminal work Things Fall Apart, which will go into production in 2020.”
From the sounds of it, this residency is the mane upon which the echo of the old age African adage, “Until the Lion tells his story, the hunter will always be the hero,” rides, as the Lion strides across seas and back to tell his own story. It is also an exploration of how Africans can excavate African stories from their own tongues through the use of foreign descent tools. During their time in Germany the Theatre Duo will be presenting workshops on African Storytelling in Theatre in partnership with Iwalewahaus and also performances of the acclaimed-award winning production Tswalo in Bayreuth and Berlin respectively.
Mokgonyane concludes by saying, “we wish not to share much at the beginning, we would love to have you follow us and write as we create.” We will therefore be following the Theatre Duo in their journey.