Over the course of December we'll be sharing excerpts and links to Season 4's performances which took place in October.
Curated by writer, academic, and playwright Jane Taylor, Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea takes the shape of a Collapsed Conference – a series of talks, presentations and ideas all told through performance.
BLACK PRIVILEGE | MAMELA NYAMZA
Watching Mamela Nyamza’s Black Privilege is in no way a passive act. The dance and physical theatre piece is a wry and stirring performance on contemporary debates about race, identity, and the workings of creative and academic institutions. In this way, the act of viewing Nyamza becomes a part of the show.
Having debuted at the 2018 National Arts Festival (of which Nyamza was the Featured Artist), Black Privilege’s inclusion in The Centre for the Less Good Idea sees the merging of a number of the themes inherent in Season 4’s works, most notably the way in which complex ideas and arguments can be exemplified through the medium of performance.
There is Nyamza who plays the part of the gilded artist, the golden goose, the prized possession who sits atop a golden staircase, muted in her movements, but hyper visible, nonetheless. Then there is Sello Pesa who plays the part of the manager, the academic, the judge, and the auctioneer in an equally reserved manner, although always in charge.
Black Privilege is a performance that is rich in metaphor and meaning. Roped barriers encircling the performance area are not unlike those that keep us, as viewers and consumers, away from celebrities on red carpets or artworks and artifacts on museum walls. The black and white checkerboard floor becomes the basis for a game of snakes and ladders where Nyamza, the main piece, is always one move away from sliding down to the jaws of the serpent. The use of the popular party song ‘Memeza’ is a difficult irony – a song of protest dressed up and watered down with a club-like beat.
Nyamza’s performance throughout the piece is breathtaking. Her body, though restricted and caged, communicates intense moments of pain, hubris, and fear through the simple arch of a shoulder or the curl of a lip. She has made it to the top and she has the medals and the platform to prove it, but how is it possible that one can be simultaneously celebrated and constrained by the same institution? How long will she have to be shaken around and paraded about before she falls?
Then there is us – the audience. We watch Nyamza endure it all, but we say or do nothing. When Pesa, in his cold and matter-of-fact style, tells us to stand, to sit, or to leave, we listen to him. The rest of the time we are only looking on from behind the velvet ropes, simultaneously entertained and horrified.
For the full version go to | https://vimeo.com/303288034
Director and performer| Mamela Nyamza
Collaborators | Sello Pesa
Lighting and stage design | Wilhelm Disbergen
Body paint artist and costume designer | Linda Mandela-Sejosingoe
Production manager | Buntu Tyali
Animateur for The Centre | Bronwyn Lace
Cinematography and Editor | Noah Cohen
Project Manager | Shruthi Nair
Lights | Wesley France and Guy Nelson
Sound | SoulFire Studios and Zain Vally
Stage Management | Hayleigh Evans and PopArt Productions
Writer | Dave Mann