Another guest post from apprentice Kimberley Dawn about her experience attending UBUNTU at The Firehall Arts Centre.
The Firehall Arts Centre's presentation of Theatrefront's UBUNTU (The Cape Town Project) provided me with an exciting, heartfelt and dramatic evening. Ubuntu refers to a "spirit of community", a concept far more familiar in South African, than it is here, in “diverse” and individualistic Canada. The story begins with Jabba (Andile Nebulane), a young South African, journeying to Canada in search of a father who left their homeland when Jabba was only an infant. The play flashes back and forth between Jabba's story, and that of his father, Philani (Mbulelo Grootboom). As we see their lives, once so separate, become so intertwined, we glimpse the loneliness and struggle for community that they face in a country so far from their own.
I loved the way that Jabba introduces himself to people, immediately informing them that he is South African. This pride in his origin was beautiful, coming from a deep connection to his homeland and community, both past and present. As the play shifts back and forth, from Jabba’s time in Canada, to his fathers' visit, we, like Michael, Sarah and Libby (Eric Goulem, Tracey Power, Stacie Steadman), the Canadian characters whom they encounter, must wrestle with the deep connection that exists between these men and their homeland. Even death does not sever their connection; they remain in contact with their ancestors with the help of a sangoma, asking advice, and celebrating life.
As two South African's search for "Ubuntu" in the Canadian cold, UBUNTU (The Cape Town Project) uses song, dance and story-telling from both Canadian and African traditions, to stir up story and leave you, as the last drum beat falls, just a little bit breathless.