The South African debut of Frantz Fanon’s love play, The Drowning Eye comes to Joburg
Photos by Rudy Motsetatsea
Revolutionary Love is a new artistic project that looks at love and revolution in all their intertwining. Its first artistic ventures, a production of Frantz Fanon’s play, ‘The Drowning Eye’, premiered to critical acclaim and full houses at this year’s National Arts Festival (NAF) in Makhanda and will now open at The Ramolao Makhene Theatre in Johannesburg on October 7, 2022.
Written in 1949, when the young Martiniquan author was just 24 and a student in Paris, ‘The Drowning Eye’ is part love poem, part surrealist narrative, part philosophical treatise, and a powerful testimony to the power and possibilities of love as an act of resistance.
This contemporary reimagining of the text, sets the play in the aftermath of revolution and entangles fiction and poetry with Fanon’s biography to explore the edge between love, shadow and violence. Tamara Guhrs and Stacy Hardy join forces with KwaSha Theatre Company, the Market Theatre Lab and Windybrow Arts Centre, with music by Tumi Mogorosi, to present this work at a time when Fanon’s writing has new relevance for a generation of young South Africans questioning the limits and possibilities of revolution today.
‘The Drowning Eye’ is performed in the midst of an exhibition which combines archival material with poetic lines of flight and philosophical questions, and features voice by Lesego Rampolokeng, as well as film and music to explore revolutionary love in all its guises – revolutionary manifestations of love, love as a revolutionary force and the historic role of love and lovers within liberation movements (from Frantz and Josie Fanon to Che Guevara and Aleida March Torre, Winnie and Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba and Stokely Carmichael, and many more.)
For audiences unfamiliar with Fanon’s work, the play and accompanying exhibition serve as a potent introduction to the life and work of one of the most important anti-colonial thinkers. For readers of Fanon it’s an opportunity to engage the complex interplay between poetry, psychology, philosophy, and political theory that came to define his oeuvre. For lovers it’s an invitation to reignite their passion at a time when love is too often caught between consumer culture, popularist narcissism and casual sexual encounters.
As Nkgopoleng Moloi wrote in her review of the production at NAF, “the play reads as a surrealist offering whose goal is to free language, thought and human experience from despotic boundaries of rationalism. Here is Fanon, endlessly (re)creating himself. “
Directed by Tamara Guhrs, The Drowning Eye features performances by the Market Theatre Foundation’s dynamic youth theatre company, KwaSha! This company has, in the last five years, become an important platform in Joburg’s cultural landscape, where up-and-coming performers receive a year-long contract, the opportunity to work with various directors and an artistic home at the Windybrow Arts Centre. This year’s iteration – “KwaSha the 5th” is made up of Moagi Kai, Mongezi Ntukwana, Mncedisi Hadebe, Nonhlanhla Sidiki and Sivuyise Kibido. With dramaturgy by Stacy Hardy and Kaushik Sunder Rajan, and design by Megan Miller, the production promises a visual, emotional and thought-provoking journey into what ‘love in all its forms’ can mean for us today. It is made possible with the support of the National Arts Festival (NAF), French Institute South Africa (IFAS), Bolloré and Mazarz, with research facilitated by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture & Society, at the University of Chicago.
PRODUCTION INFORMATION CREATIVE TEAM
Conceptualised Stacy Hardy and Tamara Guhrs
Directed Tamara Guhrs
Performed by KwaSha Theatre Company in association with the Market Theatre Laboratory and the Windybrow Arts Centre, IFAS, Mazars, Bolloré
Performers: Moagi Kai, Mongezi Ntukwana, Mncedisi Hadebe, Nonhlanhla Sidiki, Sivuyise Kibido.
Music and sound design: Tumi Mogorosi
Featuring Lesego Rampolokeng as “The Voice”
Stage Manager Tshepo Matlala
Performance: 6 October 2022 – 23 October 2022
Previews: 6 October Preview @ 7pm
Season Dates & times Tuesday – Saturday 19h00 and Sunday 15h00
Student Price: R70
To make block bookings and discounts please contact Anthony Ezeoke 011 832 1641ext 203/ 083 246 4950 or Bandile Luvalo 078 4344 860