The Language we cry in
Its half an hour before the start of the show and I am surrounded by a contingent of white people. No I haven’t stolen anything and they are not hurling racist slurs at me or looking to hire a garden boy. There is peace and tranquility in the air as well as the slight hint of the bitterly cold Grahamstown air. We are outside a little church on Somerset street it’s surprisingly quite for a place that is just a stone’s throw away from Rhodes. I assume that they (the people around me) are coming to mass and then go about the things that they would do on a normal Sunday morning. But this is not just any Sunday morning, its fest Sunday Morning. I hear one of them whisper “I hope they will start on time”-they are here to watch The language we cry in just like me. Church is not on the agenda. Visiting God has been postponed until further notice
I try and brush of the stigma of being among the few black people at the show and ask the man in front of me the time and he says he doesn’t have it. And he does so politely I might add. I am forced to go back to my roots and ask a black brother. He stands slightly leaning against the wall, glued to the festival program. Sorry do you know what time it is? Without looking at me he flicks his wrist ten minutes to ten he says before going back to his fest guide. The joys of leaving your cellphone behind start to hit me.
By the time we enter the theatre I am already tired of waiting and all I want to do is sit down. I find a mid row seat. I can get a good view but still not have to pay the courtesy of waiting a long time when it’s time to get out. The seats are made of steel and plastic the kind that you often find in Vodacom League soccer games. And the only thing softening the tosh is a light Standard Bank pillow, guerilla marketing has no manners.
Facing us is a well postured French orchestra although not complete; they will do just fine for this production. As the show begins its not what I expected. There is a flurry of teenagers on the stage. In the program the language we cry in is billed as “a perfect blend of live music and contemporary dance” perhaps alluring would be a more fitting word. Choreographed by Sifiso Sikhakhane the piece is a study on sibling relations as well as the underlying questions of finding identity within the confines of family.
What I immediately noticed about the show is that as it goes on it seems less and less like a collaborations and falls more under the category of some sort of a live mash up. The music, the dance and at times the dancers seem separate. Every element carefully placed in its place. The result gives the piece a kind of robotic state.
Quarter way through the performance the dancers wear masks on the backs of their heads, and start gyrating around in a snake like manner. They evoke a quiver and wince as they slither and halfway into the show I have already seen a girl of 18 year old move like Isadora Duncan, minus the precision and the silhouette of her faithful scarf. The language we cry in is a work in progress .