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TSHEPANG (article first published : 2004-02-28)

Lara Foot Newton’s play, Tshepang – the 3rd Testament is to be presented for schools performances at Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre, B25 – KwaMashu.

In 2001, South Africa was devastated by the news of a brutal rape of a nine month old child that later became known as Baby Tshepang. Initially it was thought that she was gang raped by a group of six men and this produced an international media frenzy. Later it was discovered that the men had been wrongfully accused. Hundreds of similar stories suddenly surfaced via the media. Each story was equally horrific. "A five month old baby" ... "A two year old girl" ... and so the list grew.

In response Lara Foot Newton began work on this production at the beginning of 2002. Research included media articles and related material as well as an investigation into the social and psychological landscape where events such as these occur. This included research by company member Bheki Vilakazi, whilst staying in Louisvaleweg in the northern Cape, the town where Baby Tshapeng was raped.

While the content is motivated by factual evidence, the story is purely fictional. Weaving together "twenty thousand stories" (the amount of reported child rapes in South Africa per year), Tshepang is a story of love, forgiveness and coming to terms with a devastation of this magnitude.

Lara Foot Newton has directed many prize winning shows and this remarkable piece similarly draws from a South African style of storytelling, combining the use of metaphor, striking visual imagery and an African sense of magic realism. She charms the audience by luring them into a world where sadness and despair live next door to love, humour and hope. Tshepang is at once intimate and urgent, approaching a difficult subject in a uniquely visual and poetic manner.

Starring: Mncedisi Shabangu and Kholeka Qwabe, Tshepang has the capacity to be a powerful tool in the national campaign against child abuse and for moral regeneration and plans are in hand to tour it extensively throughout South Africa. Scenography is by Gerhard Marx and lighting by Wesley France.

Tshepang has performances for schools on March 2 and 3 at 11h00. Tickets R10 for scholars. There are public performances on March 5 at 18h30 (tickets R20). Bookings on 031 504 6970.




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