Concluding Season 5’s 1st programme of 11-minute epics is William Kentridge’s Sybil, a rich and poignant collection of sound, imagery, language, and physicality.
There is the tale of The Cumaean Sibyl, a priestess or prophetess who prophesied by ‘singing the fates’ and writing on oak leaves which would become scattered and rearranged by the wind. In Sybil, created by Kentridge, composed and choreographed by Nhlanhla Mahlangu, and performed by Teresa Phuti Mojela, the audience bears witness to these jumbled prophecies.
Mojela performs before a series of projections showing revolving sculptures and figures rendered in charcoal, as well as short, affecting lines of text. Throughout the performance, a small choir comprised of Xolisile Bongwana, Ayanda Nhlangothi, Zandile Hlatshwayo, Sibusiso Shozi, and Siphiwe Nkabinde belts out sweeping melodies and frantic conversation in perfect harmony and discordant susurration respectively.
Much like its 360 VR counterpart Day Will Break More Than Once, this piece is testament to the compelling and enduring nature of the voice, the written word, the moving body, or the drawn image – those simple, powerful pieces of art that help us to make sense of the chaos and the contradictions of the human world.
Sybil is a dense, but tightly composed bit of theatre that makes full use of its 11-minute structure. Like so many of this Season’s works, it is a reminder of the possibilities that arise through the free-spirited, collaborative nature that’s refined through The Centre for the Less Good Idea.
CREATED AND DIRECTED BY | William Kentridge
COMPOSED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY | Nhlanhla Mahlangu
PERFORMED BY | Teresa Phuti Mojela
CHORAL WORK BY | Xolisile Bongwana | Ayanda Nhlangothi | Zandile Hlatshwayo | Sibusiso Shozi | Siphiwe Nkabinde
VIDEO EDITING AND PROJECTION BY | Žana Marović
WRITER | Dave Mann
VIDEO ENGINEER & EDITOR | Noah Cohen
STILLS PHOTOGRAPHER | Nina Lieska