Burning for answers

“Fire, capable of both disaster and cleansing, has proved to be the oppressed people’s weapon of choice during protest and has become characteristic of the South African struggle,” writes Xolisa Ngubelanga about her award-winning work, Flamebook, which will be performed  in Grahamstown on 20 March.
Ngubelanga is a Master’s Creative Writing student at Rhodes University. Flamebook premiered at the National Arts Festival and is a 2017 Standard Bank Ovation Award winning theatre production for excellence. It is written by Xolisa Ngubelanga and directed by Simphiwe Kaya.

“A detained student leader uses fire to connect the trials of FeesMustFall with that of his father during the state of emergency,” Ngubelanga continues.

“On 22 September 2017 the Port Elizabeth City Hall will be marking 40 years since it was burned by a fire of unknown course. 06 September it will be 40 years since the detention of Steve Bantu Biko in Port Elizabeth. Does Steve Biko’s detention and later death have anything to do with the burning of the Port Elizabeth City Hall? No official account of the fire has confirmed or denied this.

“However, as artists and creatives Biko has given us a task.”

“Part of the approach envisaged in bringing about “black consciousness” has to be directed to the past, to seek to rewrite the history of the black man and to produce in it the heroes who form the core of the African background.” – Biko

Flamebook is a theatre performance that reinvestigates these incidents to see if there is any probable connection between them. 

The performance in ILAM’s amphitheatre on 20 March is to commemorate International Performance Week which is 20-27 March.

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