Phefumla - To Breathe
Scenography and Costume design for theater
Director: Thando Doni
Phefumla had its premiere at the Cradle of Creativity – the Assitej International Theatre Festival 2017 in Cape Town, the same year it also played at Sand international in Kristiansand, Norway.
Phefumla was developed through a devised process with four young men from the township areas surrounding Cape Town. All four have been involved or affected by the gang culture that rules the streets. Through glimpses of their childhood, fragments of good and bad memories, we slowly puzzle the pieces of their young lives together.
In xhosa, the words for breath (phefumla) and soul (umphefumlo) are connected.
Thando Doni, the director, explains the topic of the play:
My culture says that what creates a person, what makes a person alive, is the breath. As long as the breath is in the body, the soul is present. The moment the breath stops, the soul disappears. What makes a person for us, is the soul within the breath. Us, as we are, we are breath. And breathing is supposed to be easy, even unconscious. But growing up in the townships of South Africa, with the heritage of Apartheid and racism, it rarely feels like that. In our lives, breathing are made difficult. The space and the environment we are in, suffocates us.
We often feel like we don’t really have the space for our souls to breathe, to live, to be free.
The scenography reflect this theme; the corrugated iron plates are connected to a kinetic system which make it possible for the actors to manipulate them, and thus make the whole wall come to life with a soft breathing movement.
The corrugated iron sheets used for this scenography has it's own dramatical story; A taxi driver loses control over his car after the robber/client pulls a gun at him, and in the middle of the night the car crashes into one of the shacks in the township. Luckily nobody gets hurt, but the shack is in pieces. The next morning, still in shock, the owner is trying to mend his home, and in this prosess puts heaps of corrugated iron on the street. Which I, looking for used material for the scenography, mistake for being for sale. After telling me the whole story, we agree on a trade: I will buy and bring him brand new plates for his home and in return will I get the old pieces of corrugated iron for the scenography.
Ntzikayomsi Tyalavane, Eric Menyo, Vuyani Matiwanae and Bongani Dyalivana.
Wunderkammer Production / Mariken Lauvstad
Jonah de Lange