Child Whisperer at 2013 Maitisong – Comments by BFA205 Students

On Thursday the 14th of April The UB Scars Project performed The Child Whisperer at the annual Maitisong festival in the Moving Space. Here are comments received the BFA205 (Design & Technical Theatre) students who watched the play:

The costumes worn by the characters showed the types of families and backgrounds of the families. The girl’s parents wore neat expensive-looking clothes that were in style, which showed that they were a classy family whereas the boy’s family wore torn, out of style clothes to show that they were from a poor background. The costumes did well to extinguish the ages, gender and statuses of the two different families. Make up was used on the girl’s mother to show that she was a middle aged woman who still put effort on her looks. - Tshotlhe Wantwa

The play was so touching because it is a real life story. I feel pity for young girls out there in society who are also going through this similar problem. I don’t put the blame on the young girl for her not telling anyone about what she is going through because it is really hard to open up as she now doesn’t have trust for anyone either. I know many people may think she is being stupid because we are living in an era where we have all the resources around us but with abuse it is different. - Nonofo Phologolo

At first glance this performance space looked like abandoned classroom but walking inside it was then transformed theatrical room with a beautiful set of a living room. As the play starts LORATO tells her parents that she and Joe are getting married but the parents are against it. She then decides to move out of home and marry against their will. This play can be categorized as a tragicomedy. Each actor was worth noting but standouts include the landlord who was after his rental money and Larona the daughter/granddaughter. His comedic timing was impeccable. The scars project put together an amazing show with a smooth scene changes, a clear focus and a cohesiveness that is both impressive and unmatched. It was really good to have to go and watch the performance. – Baratwa Phuthego

I witnessed a physical theatre production by the Scar’s Project at the Moving Space in Maru-a-Pula during the 2013 Maitisong festival. Yes, it’s true, (Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has no sense of humour. Electricity was out for the first 30minutes of the production but the Scar’s Project is always prepared for such incidents. Candles were placed in a semi-circle. Somehow, this proved to be good lighting for the play but on the other hand, when a scene transits it’s a problem because you can’t actually blow out the candles in 30seconds and light them back on within those 30seconds. This is a play I would urge all to go watch. Incidents that happen in our lives were showcased and made us aware of them. GOOD JOB SCAR’S PROJECT!!! – Tumii Kesetse

I believe that the style of set design used was simplified realism.  The type of furniture used did represent the locale that it was not hard for the audience to figure out the social class of the inhabitants of that particular locale like in the first scene, an expensive sofa, two chairs (conversational group), table, golf club, telephone and a flower did suggest that the inhabitants (Rra Peo and Mma Peo) have an expensive taste so they could be placed among a rich families if not an upper medium class family. With Joe’s house it was not hard at all to figure out that it was that of a struggling young man for example, he did not even had a wardrobe that he had to hang his clothes on a rail and moreover he used the same room to cook, bath, sleep and also as a sitting room. The same applies to RraJoe’s family. The type of furniture used did suggest that the family or inhabitants were low class family. The type of furniture used in this play also gave hint to the time, place of the play. The furniture used is that of modern times and the place is a town. I would say the set designer did accomplish the purpose and the mood of audience was properly set. Sound also was used to create and stimulate the mood of the audience. It was used at a time when the play was reaching a climax when Larona was used as a sex object in exchange for payment of liquor credit. That was a very touching moment and the sound did just that, buttressing the state of emotion. The stage managers also did a brilliant job. They ensured quick exchanges of props and furniture and everything was put in an orderly manner. – Morutegi Setlhoka

At the beginning of the play there was complete silence. Although silence is a sound on its own, I find it fitting to have introduced sound in order to set the mood of the play. As the play unfolded however, music was sometimes used in the background to emphasize the mood. For instance, when the parents were dining, a love song was playing in the background. This helped to push the momentum of the play. Itseng Modukanele

The music that was used in the play showed the mood. In a scene where the widow was told that her husband had passed away, she became very sad and she cried very bitterly. As she was crying, a sad music that went with the mood of sadness was playing on background. The costume they wore showed their status i.e. those who were rich wore expensive clothes to show their status and the poor wore cheap clothes to show their status. Also, the man that the grandfather to the child owed wore costume that is normally associated with business men in the townships. Pako Itiseng

Hiatus

It has been a while. We have been busy behind the scenes (pun intended) – in November through December we had a series of activities in commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism and the prevention of violence against women. December being a holiday month and our community being primarily the University of Botswana we were compelled to cease our activities in UB and embark on other projects out of UB. For instance, we had a workshop with the transitioning teens at the Baylor Institute. We are hoping this will morph into something fruitful because the reception was fantastic.

In December several members of our team moved to different posts outside Gaborone – we wish them the best in their endeavors, and we are reassured they shall carry on our mandates.

UB didn’t reopen until January 22, 2013 so we resumed activities early February. Since then we have had several performances the high points being ‘Truth or Dare’ and ‘Nine Degrees of Separation’. While all this was going on the world has been inundated with bestial acts of rape, especially in India. What is the world coming to? What has angered those who committed these bestial acts? Why women? From the outside I have always admired the way Indian men relate to their women, how they protect them in an almost insular manner, but in a way that elicit respect from someone from the outside. Having said this, I have always wondered what life was like for the average Indian woman who has to respond to multiple levels of protection.

Could there have been a gentle rejection of these levels of protection that has been seen as questioning male hood? So are the rapes intended to be corrective? Whatever the reason, violating, violating another human in this manner is outright bestial. Hopefully the law will take its due course.

The death of Ram Singh has caused a somewhat curious eruption of emotions that calls into question the moral implications of existence. Can we defend the loss of life of someone who took another’s life? We may never know who was responsible for Ram Singh’s death but we need to bear in mind what necessitated the conditions that led to that death. And no matter what your moral leaning is, it was a nasty act of bestiality.

Torn Love: Baby-Mama Issues

My write up is on Torn Love, which was staged by the Scars’ Project team on October 25, 2012 – a true life story involving Opelo, a high-school drop-out who had recently inherited his late father’s wealth, Angela, a second year UB student, and Boi, an unemployed high-school drop-out. This story is on the face of of it about baby-mama issues, but it contains lots of intricate social issues, one of them being intervention. When the play starts Angela and Opelo have just woken up. Angela is complaining that Opelo’s ex-lover, Boi’s calls at odd hours. She tells Opelo that Boi is using their son (Opelo and Boi’s) to extort money from him. Boi’s call interrupts their conversation – she wants money and Opelo agrees to meet up with her. Opelo’s response infuriates Angela who storms out Opelo follows her out. In the next scene, Opelo is at Boi’s place, he didn’t bring the money because he intends to take his son with him. Boi is furious starts insulting Angela (who isn’t present) saying she is the reason why Opelo didn’t bring the money and why he’s broke. Opelo defends his Angela. the scene ends with Boi not getting the money that she wants. In scene three, Boi calls Opelo to come and babysit their child, Opelo tells her he’s busy and hangs up on her. Boi thinks that Opelo is playing her so she calls Angela to come get the baby. Angela agrees to go over and get the baby even though she has classes. When Angela gets to Boi’s place Boi insults her and a verbal fight ensues, which leads to Boi thoroughly beating up Angela. Interestingly, Boi goes to the Police to lodge a case of assault against Angela. When Opelo’s mother visits her son in scene four she finds him in a bad state. She concludes that Boi is the reason for this. She tells Opelo how unfit Boi is to be a mother. Opelo discloses how Boi is using their son to extort money from him. Opelo’s mother decides they should go and get her grandson immediately. Scene five opens with Opelo and his mother at Boi’s patents home in Bobonong. Boi’s parents are not aware that Opelo and Boi are no longer together. They then discuss traditional issues of paying for the ‘damage’ and who the child is going to live with since Opelo and Angela are school-going teenagers themselves. As they are discussing these issues Boi enters with a man, unperturbed by the presence of Opelo and his mother, she introduces as her fiance. Her parents are shocked and her father chases the man away. In the last scene, Boi goes to the Police to withdraw the assault charges against Angela, the police decline. They pursue the case, no one can give an account of what really happened except Angela, the Police don’t believe her and she ends up with a criminal record. This is the current state of affairs between Opelo, Angela and Boi …

For me, this story raises a whole lot of issues. First, it shows that it’s not always easy to approach our parents when we have problems, Opelo could not approach his mother when Boi was extorting money from him. True, Opelo inherited most of his late father’s wealth, but that is no excuse for Boi to exploit him in this way. My take on this is that our parents have to create a podium for us to come to them when we have problems or when we are in trouble of some sort. And also it’s up to us the ‘victims’ to create an environment where our parents are able to ask us what is going on in our lives without fear of being accused of invading ‘privacy’ Its a two way thing which needs input from both parties.

Second, when you are involved with someone who is being extorted the way Boi was extorting Opelo you should act out. I know it’s not easy to seek help but it’s always for the best. See how Angela got beaten up when she was trying to help, and then got a criminal record – something which could have been avoided. Since it was obvious Opelo’s mother liked Angela, she should have approached her and told her what Opelo was going through at the hands of Boi.

Third, issues of child maintenance which are settled out of court always have to be DOCUMENTED even if the process is being handled by ‘bagolo’. Because if not one party (Boi in this case) can always claim they never got any aid whatsoever from the other. The documentation will then be proof otherwise. Related to this, how can men in Opelo’s situation make women like Boi realize that though they have a child together, Opelo has moved on and Boi should interfering with his present relationship. Opelo did not shirk his obligation to his child, but this does not give Boi the right to keep bothering him for things other than issues related to the maintenance of the child, especially considering she now has a new man in her life.

lastly, one important thing this story reveals is that we sometimes go into relationships for the wrong reasons – it is obvious in Boi’s case that she went into the relationship because of Opelo’s inheritance. This has to stop. She messed up and Opelo left her, she has in a way too by seeing another man, but why make Opelo’s life hell?

Bertyna Moamogwe

Tales from Within – A Review

Tales from Within was performance by members of the University of Botswana (UB) Scars’ Project. It took place at the old PESC Room in UB on the 8th of November 2012 at 1900hrs. The Scars’ Project employs the technique of Forum Theatre – Forum Theatre aims to empower, encourage and benefit its participants by tackling issues of oppression in a creative and safe space. The performances are directed, produced and performed by the Scars’ Project/Enigma members. Plays performed are nonfiction and usually end in an incomplete manner, providing us (the audience/participants), with a platform to discuss debate and provide solutions on the presented issues.

Tales from Within was directed by Boikanyo Molapisi. It surrounds the story of a couple – Sello and Tshotlego – who decide to get married after six years of dating, with the hope of starting a family. However, after years of trying to have a child, Sello’s frustration and pressure from his friends and family lead him to become abusive towards Tshotlego, as he blames her for their inability to have a child. Eventually he asks her for divorce, and after their divorce she falls pregnant with another man’s child. When Sello and Tshotlego meet again, seeing her pregnant, he thinks the child is his, she is quick to correct him and he soon realises that he was the one that was unable to conceive…

In terms of the play in general, I would not say that it was a great performance, but it was memorable. I particularly loved the love-hate, father-daughter relationship between Rra Sello, and Amantle (Sello’s younger sister), played by Reward Tsietsego. It acted as an ‘in-play’ intermezzi or comic relief, but it was calculated and did not take away from the main action of the play.

I think the acting was, as usual, quite authentic: a highlight moment for me was when Sello slapped Tshotlego – I loved this action because it was so real and it showed both actors commitment to their roles and the directors willingness to push the boundaries by having a male actor slap a female actor in a live stage production, I was taken aback and impressed by it. Additionally, I loved the post-performance discussion and how it caused a heated, informative and stimulating debate. Therefore, I salute both the actors and the director for giving us (the audience/participants) a thought provoking and enlightening production to work with.

Sibongile Tasila Phiri

The Child Whisperer is a play about a girl who marries against her parents’ wishes. Her fiance was rejected simply because he was from a poor family, and at the time had no job. In time, they have a daughter, but years later her husband passes away. She returns to her parents’ house with her teenage daughter, Larona, but they are promptly turned away by her parents who insult her in spite of the obvious signs that she, too, is now sick.  With no alternative, she approaches her late husband’s family, and they take her in grudgingly. Soon after, her father-in-law starts to make moves on her, but when her illness (with cancer) worsens, he starts to verbally abuse her and discriminate against her on grounds of her being ill. But in a wicked twist, he goes after his grand-child, larona, and succeeds in raping her. In a very emotional scene she dies while trying to get off her sick bed to save her daughter who was being raped by her grand-father. With Larona’s mother dead, the grand-father repeatedly raped her. He is a hardcore drinker and consequently runs up a huge bill, when the bar owner, Jackson, comes after him, he pays him with Larona. Larona reports the incidence to her grand-mother, who had actually seen Jackson coming out of the room where he raped Larona, the grand-mother slaps and accuses her of lying and trying to break up her marriage.

With due respect to all our previous storytellers, I have to admit the story that culminated in the play, The Child Whisperer, is the story that has had an impact on me the most. Not just because it involves a child, but because of the stoic indifference of the grand-father when he offers his teenage grand-child to his creditor and his insistence that his creditor sleeps with her in his own bedroom. I can still hear the whimpering of the young girl as Jackson rapes her while her grand-father enjoys the coital sounds, runs a debased commentary of his creditor’s ‘efficiency’, while reading a newspaper. The emotional graph of this performance was incredible, and the high emotional tensions were underlined by the entire audience constantly sighing in unison at what was unfolding in front of them. Like Mr. Kagiso Matsoga said, the performance (of Larona’s story) was brilliant.

The situation we find in The Child Whisperer is similar to some story published in The Voice of August 10, 2012 titled “Dad Found Guilty of Fondling Daughter.”In that particular story Francistown principal magistrate, Kgololesego Segabo, had convicted a certain Chadibe father, who was found, without reasonable doubt, to have fondled his biological daughter’s breasts and vagina before begging her for sex in their one-roomed house in Chadibe village on the night of June 26, 2011. The girl was only 17 years old. There were extenuating evidence to prove that Ketshwenyegile forcefully put his hand into his daughter’s inner pants and fondled her vagina: The incident  took place while Ketshwenyegile’s other 5 year-old daughter was asleep in the room, and the scuffle between the father and her teenage daughter had woken up the 5 year-old; The complainant’s claims were corroborated also by Thato Sambino (the second prosecution witness) and Priscilla Sebogodi, who was the young girl’s teacher. The 44-year-old pedophile, Oakile Ketshwenyegile, who pleaded not guilty was convicted of a five-year sentence for a single count of indecent assault. Ketshwenyegile remains in custody amidst fears that he might run away if released on bail while awaiting in the next few weeks.

I am citing this case because it shows something can be done when such things happen to deal with such offenders. The complainant reported the occurrence of the incident  to Sambino who then took her to the school. The magistrate is quoted as saying “Instead of going to school the following morning (on the 27th of June 2011), she went to Sambino and narrated her ordeal to her.”  Today after the performance, some of the recommendations and enactments focused on reporting the matter to the grand-father’s wife or an aunty, or a close relative. There is nothing wrong with this, but as some members of the audience cautioned, tradition and culture may force the person who receives such complaint to keep quiet. Sambino did not keep quiet, and Ketshwenyegile is going to jail, even if the sentence is somewhat light, for his incestuous act. Let’s not hold on to such complaints for fear of exposing the family to public scorn and derision.

I take this opportunity to refer us to Mary Fisher’s A Whisper of Aid. If you recall I made reference to this speech on the day we launched the Scars’ Project, and tonight is a fine time to reiterate what Fisher said in her speech. She may have been speaking about HIV/Aids but you couldn’t tell the difference to what our performance focused on tonight. She said: “The lesson history teaches is this: If you believe you are safe, you are at risk. If you do not see this killer stalking your children, look again. There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place left … that is safe. Until we genuinely embrace this message, we are a nation at risk.    I have a message for you: It is not you who should feel shame, it is we. We who tolerate ignorance and practice prejudice, we who have taught you to fear. We must lift our shroud of silence, making it safe for you to reach out for compassion. It is our task to seek safety for our children, not in quiet denial but in effective action.”

It’s time to make our whisper audible.

F-K

Precious Gift – a Thematic and Technical Review

Precious Gift, a true-life story, improvised and performed by the UB Scars’ Project was performed on the 11th of October at 7pm in the evening in the University of Botswana block 228 Old Pesc Committee room. The play basically depicted how abuse can change people’s perspective of certain things such as love etc. In this play we meet Precious who is in a relationship with Ben, the issue is that Ben wants sex but Precious wants to wait till marriage which makes Ben furious and he ends up cheating on her and abusing her because she can’t give him sex. After they break up Precious meets Joe who is in love with her but due to the past Precious doesn’t commit herself to Joe because she has lost the trust she had on men, so they end up breaking up as well. Then we see precious with Thabo, the new boyfriend who manages to teach and show Precious that not all men are the same and makes her trust again.

There were several themes that one could generate from the play such as Love conquers all because it was love that changed Precious’s personality and there was also a scene where Joe, the second boyfriend, wanted to kill himself due to the fact that he so much loved Precious who didn’t even care if Joe killed himself or not, it here that love was proved to be powerful and essential in human life. The other theme may be that sex is the key to any successful relationship because the fact that Precious didn’t give Thabo sex due to her reasons made Thabo to cheat and also to abuse her, and ending up raping her. So these are some of the themes that one can talk about from the play. 

The use of props, specifically in Joe’s room (The rope) confused me. When the scene began we saw a rope hanging from the roof, so I thought that Joe was going to hang himself but he didn’t until it was lights off, and when the lights came again the rope was still there so I personally felt that ok, so this rope is part of the decoration in the house but then as that thought strikes us Joe attempts to use the rope to hang himself. So I personally feel that the rope wasn’t used properly even though it ended up achieving its main purpose, but as for other props, like the chicken licken meal, achieved its main purpose which was to show us that the setting was a fancy restaurant. 

Due to the lack of a proper theatre and theatre equipment the use of the houselights killed the whole production because there were bare sets which I kept looking at thus shifting my attention from the current action of the play thus missing certain, and maybe important parts of the play at large. I feel that if there were stage lights the play could have been a masterpiece because there could have been more emphasis on the whole play be it mood or illumination. 

All in all, the characters played their parts fully well, because they reacted very well, showed the right emotions etc. The problem came from the technical aspects of theatre but due to the theatre they were performing in which is with no doubt the worst theatre that anyone can ever perform in especially theatre people. I am sure that given a chance to perform in a well-equipped theatre the production will be a masterpiece. 

Modiri Onkabetse

 

Disturbia – a Review

The play, Disturbia, which was performed by the Scar’s Project team in the old PESC committee room (UB) on Thursday September 6, 2012, and directed by Mmama Williams sought to expose gender based violence and abuse in its various forms and the effects it has on the victims. The issue of staying in an abusive relationship and not seeking any form of help or even resisting it out of fear. The play was divided into two parts both bearing the same logic and intension. First there was a couple, cohabiting. The man accommodated his cousin and his niece who suffered vehement scolding daily from her uncle’s girlfriend. The abusive woman also bullied her boyfriend by making endless complaints about money, why he does not buy food, which of course he did but the woman was so selfish that she in a way made sure there was no food in the house. The man was absolutely under petty-coat movement. He yielded to anything and everything demanded by his girlfriend.

On the other hand, we saw a man who disrespected and disregarded his wife. He scolded and beat her to an extend of even threatening her life. When he went out he would come home very late at night with different women, sleep with them on the bed while his wife would sleep on the floor and witness all the activity on the bed. She would not protest but complain the following day, and the only responses she would get from her husband were severe beatings and more bombardment. A male friend of hers asked her why she does not report to the police her answer was fear that her man would kill her. The play ends with the wife running away from home with the help of her friend.

Design Elements

Lighting design: despite the fact that PESC has poor lighting facilities, the stage lights illuminated the characters well. However, there were scenes that required special lighting to emphasize the mood and reveal emotions. For instance, the married couple’s scene where the husband brought a woman home, would have been eloquent with a blue and red lights merged to show intensity. It required lighting that would contrast two emotions in one scene.

Sound: I noticed that there was no preparation with regard to sound effects although the play had some intense and relaxed scenes that would have been effectively augmented by sound.

Personal Opinion

There was a discussion held at the end which sought to get the responses, advices and possible resolutions from the audience. One question that came to my mind was, why do people, women especially tend to choose staying in an abusive relationship and never seek help? In my opinion, fear should not inhibit one to pursue help and legal aid, rather it should be a motivation to set the record straight with the abusive person. Other responses were basically advices to the woman that she must stand up for her rights by going to places like Women’s Shelter. It doesn’t make sense to stay in darkness when there is a chance to be in the light. Over all, the acting was well organized taking into consideration the fact that improvisations tend to be messy and chaotic, but with the play there was coordination and order.

Biko Molapisi

The First Five Performances – Synopses

We have received requests from those who joined the Scars’ Project recently to post synopses of the first five performances. Here they are:

Gifts from Daddy [1] is a series of vignettes(in flashbacks) on the issue of criminal transmission of HIV/Aids by known relatives. When the play starts, we are in the middle of a family meeting over a woman’s discovery that her husband has infected her, her younger sister and his own sister with HIV. In the main scene of the vignette, a woman returns home from work to find her sister-in-law (who lives with them) and her younger sister watching TV. She discovers that her younger sister, whose turn it was to cook and do the house chores has not done them. On questioning her, the younger sister tells her she is unwell, that she has gone for a test and she is HIV positive. In the ensuing argument the young girl reveals that her sister’s husband comes into her room and serially rapes her. That she is sure he is the source of the infection because she has never had sexual intercourse before. The stunned wife, thinking her sister is lying, turns to her sister-in-law for support in defending her husband only for her sister-in-law to confirm that what her sister is saying is true, because she was also raped by the same man – her brother, just like the woman’s sister. They have both kept quiet because he is the sole provider, and has threatened to kill both of them if they told anyone within and outside the family. The fact is, all three women have been infected by the same man – a brother and a husband. This vignette deals with ‘premeditated’ criminal HIV transmission, and the psychological trauma of two girls living (in enforced silence) with the virus in a society that believes the family name is more important than the psyche and wellbeing of its female members.

During the meeting to resolve the issue, other secrets emerge – the girl’s family is no better, her maternal uncle is a serial rapist of his own daughter. In the second vignette we have a teenage girl’s confrontation with the stigma of living with the virus she acquired at birth from her mother. Her impression, like most people’s, is that her mother contracted the virus by being sexually promiscuous. In the main part of the vignette, the mother returns from church to find her daughter drunk – an act that could compromise her medication. A confrontation ensues: the daughter is livid with her mother, she feels carrying her secret has made her the laughing stock of her school mates who think she contracted the virus by being sexually promiscuous. However, her mother reveals her secret – she (mother) had being raped by her own father. She tells her daughter that she has lived (in silence) with the stigma of rape, infection, pariahism, and ‘fatherless’ childing because the family will not allow the triple offenses of rape, Consanguineal incest and consequent ‘premeditated’ criminal HIV transmission be known by anyone else as it will ruin the man and the family’s name.

In the final scene of the vignettes, we are back to the meeting, a policeman arrives and arrests the man who raped and infected his sister, his sister-in-law and his wife with HIV. As the policeman takes out the accused he informs the group that their knowledge of the crime (without exposure) makes them liable to five years imprisonment for aiding a crime.


[1] This version of Gifts from Daddy that was on September 22, 2011 during the launch of the Scars’ Project is different from the version that toured Buffalo, New York.

Raising Masego tells the story of a 2nd year Special Education student who is involved in a love triangle involving her mother and father. Masego’s parents, Gaamangwe, and Tebogo, are brother and sister who have an incestuous sexual relationship that started when they were teenagers. The incestuous relationship resulted in the births of Masego and a younger sister, Thiamin. Their mother, Masego’s grand-mother, was aware of the incestuous relationship, but chose to keep quiet about it. To cover it up, she married off Gaamangwe to Justice. When Gaamangwe married Justice and moved out of her mother’s house, she left Masego with her grand-mother and her biological father, Tebogo, but took the younger child. Masego grows up believing Tebogo is an uncle. At sixteen (16) Masego started a sexual relationship with her ‘uncle’. Her grandmother knew about the relationship but also kept quiet. In March 2011 her grandmother passed away. By now Masego was in her first year in UB. While home for the funeral of her grandmother the triangular she secret her involvement in the incestuous love affair. Justice, tired of his marital problems with Gaamangwe decides to go to Tebogo’s house to report her to her only surviving sibling.  He does not make the scheduled appointment with Tebogo but shows up unexpectedly at Tebogo’s house the next day. When he gets there Tebogo is not home but his door is unlocked. Justice enters but finds no one. He calls Tebogo on his cellular phone to say he is at his house, Tebogo tells him he is not home and they make plans to meet the following day. Just as Justice is about to leave, he hears voices from the inner room, the voices are those of Tebogo and Gaamangwe. It is obvious whatever they are discussing is sexually oriented. Justice decides to sit in the living and wait for them to finish and come out. Gaamangwe tells Tebogo go and lock the door to avoid someone else coming into the house. Tebogo, who did not know Justice was actually inside his house when he called, emerges from the bedroom half-naked. He is shocked to see Justice in the living room. An argument ensues. Just then Masego walks in, asks what is going on, she is told by Justice that her mother is her uncle’s bedroom, Masego storms into the bedroom to confront Gaamangwe about being in her lover’s bedroom, and the truth comes out. Tebogo is not Masego’s uncle, he is her father and he is also sleeping with Masego’s mother who is his sister and Justice’s wife.

Kedibonye Syndrome [1] tells the story of a 3rd year Humanities student who was raped when she was eighteen (18) by her father. Her biological mother had passed away and her father remarried shortly after. The rape incident happened the night her step-mother, a Zimbabwean, travelled to Zimbabwe. As soon as the step-mother left home her father went out and returned with a prostitute.  About an hour later, he has an argument with the prostitute over payment and the prostitute storms out. Unsated, her father enters her bedroom and rapes her. Kedibonye runs away from the family house in Selibe Phikwe to Gaborone. She is given a ride by a white man who learns about her ordeal during the ride to Gaborone. He also learns that Kedibonye had no relative in Gaborone. He offers to accommodate her in a guesthouse. The man eventually finds better accommodation for Kedibonye, pays her rent, pays her upkeep, and pays for her to retake her high school leaving exams. By this time, however, they are already in a relationship. A year after the birth of her daughter, Kedibonye finds out the man is married, and the wife has now moved to Gaborone to live with him. The relationship is a loveless one but Kedibonye cannot leave the relationship because she does not know how she will cater for herself and her child. She does not love the man, she knows the man does not love her, she cannot stand him and the time they spend together nauseates and bores her.[2] But she will not leave the relationship.


[1] The signs of Kedibonye syndrome are recognizing that you do not love the man/woman you are in relationship with, recognizing that neither of you can stand each other, or would rather spend time with other people but you cannot leave the relationship. The failure to leave is either based on the material gains that accrue from the relationship, a bond – such as a child, the opinions of other people, or the feeling that if you leave, you might not be able to sustain yourself or find something better.

[2] The words on the play’s poster are Kedibonye’s actual words. They express her distaste for her lover.

Kutlo’s Broken Record is about a 19 year-old 2nd year Social Sciences’ student. She is in a relationship with a violent 38 year-old man who has a habit of beating her up in the presence of friends or in public places. He is unmarried but has two male children who live with him. The mother of the kids lives in the mining town of Orapa – they are no longer together, in fact, she left him as Kutlo discovers later, because of his violent streak. He is a very over-bearing man who controls her movements and associations with friends and family. Kutlo finds it difficult to leave the relationship because he manages to convince her that the beatings are her fault. After each beating, he pampers her with attention and gifts. At some point, Kutlo’s mother intervenes, takes Kutlo to pack her things from his house, but Kutlo returns to the relationship against her mother’s wishes.

Montle’s Revenge is about a 26 year-old 4th year Humanities’ student. She is impregnated by a soldier while in high school and subsequently chased away from home by her single-parent mother. She is taken in by the mother of her boyfriend who does nothing to protect her when her violent boyfriend beats her up. In one scene, the boyfriend’s mother walks into the room while her son is beating up Montle, picks up the child and walks out without saying a word. Montle’s boyfriend is sexually promiscuous and while trying for a baby with another woman contracts HIV. He becomes violently ill with Aids and Montle stops sleeping with him. This infuriates him and he starts to force her to have sex with him at gunpoint. Eventually, he passes away. After his death, Montle goes for an HIV test and discovers that she is HIV positive. She starts another relationship a year after her previous boyfriend passed away. She is not interested in knowing the new boyfriend intimately – she does not know if he is Motswana or Zimbabwean, she only knows he speaks Setswana. She does not know his age, she only knows he is younger than her. The new boyfriend is unemployed so they survive on the allowance Montle gets from the Botswana Government as a student. In this relationship, Montle becomes the abuser. She beats up the new boyfriend when he tries to have sex with her when she does not feel like it. She harangues him endlessly about getting a job, and invites her male friends to the house. Through all of this, Montle does not tell her new boyfriend she is HIV positive.

Precious Gift – a Review – a Rejoinder

Kgomotso Molalapata posted her review of Precious Gift, which I thought was a good review. She pointed out one of the things that we have been battling with – the technical equipment at the venue. Anyone who has been there would know what she was referring to. The Dimmer Pack which used to work by simply pulling it to “On” and then switching it off by yanking it it “Off” eventually gave up, and we are down now to using the houselights. Anyway, my rejoinder to her post is not about the the non-functioning technical equipment because those don’t stop the performances from going on, but more importantly, in what we do in the Scars’ Project the message and the contributions of the audience are more important. That’s why I am writing this rejoinder. This is not a defense but an explanation of something Kgomotso alluded to when she wrote wrote:

“I personally think the reaction of the girl who was abused or forced to sleep with her boyfriend was not appropriate, she did not engage the audience and her emotions into the part she was playing. I feel she could have raised her point and stood her ground on what she wanted and what she didn’t want. Apart from that the play made me realize that life can be cruel and if you don’t man up and swallow everything it throws at you then you will be left devastated and miserable. Psychodrama: this element of drama was used since Scars Project deals with problems or issues put forth by individuals.”

First, the problem is not the actor’s because the scenarios are selected and devised on the advice or under the supervision of the storyteller, and performed as they happened in real life. No attempts are made to alter the storyteller’s reactions in the real life situation when it is put on stage. Second, the principal aim of the Scars’ Project is to present these situations, and according to the tenets of Forum/Interactive Theatre, invite the audience to offer their perspectives on the scenarios and issues presented. On Thursday this was the case.

Kgomotso wrote that “I feel she could have raised her point and stood her ground on what she wanted and what she didn’t want.” When (during the post-performance discussion) Wame Gwafila went on stage, after suggesting what she would have done in the first relationship, she showed that, as the girl, she would have sat the guy down and tell him “Since we cannot resolve our differences, since I cannot give you what you want and you don’t want to respect my not to have sex before marriage, I suggest we go our separate ways.” Wame’s point was, we all need to realize at what point in a relationship we start to abuse ourselves and do something about it rather than let the experience scar us for the rest of our lives.

Forum Theatre creates a scene of oppression in which the Protagonist is shown in his/her futile attempt to deal with an oppressive situation because of the resistance of the antagonist[s]. Forum theatre employs the joker (difficultator) who tells the audience the action will be repeated and while being repeated any audience member who feels the Protagonist should do something different in the situation can stop the action and show the Protagonist his/her solution for the moment. This is what was done while introducing the performance. After the performance of the intervention the joker invites the audience to discuss the proposed solution, and/or any other solutions relevant to the oppressive situation. This is what was done when Wame went on stage to give us her perspective on the first relationship.

Besides, the Scars’ Project also employs the Psychodrmatic techniques of J.L Moreno to complement the Boalian techniques discussed above. Kgomotso pointed this out in her review that “Psychodrama: this element of drama was used since Scars Project deals with problems or issues put forth by individuals.” The originator of Psychodrama, J. L. Moreno (1953: 81) defines Psychodrama “[a]s the science that explores the ‘truth’ by dramatic methods. It deals with inter-personal relations and private worlds.” Psychodrama and related action methods allow for observation and measurement that can become subject to study, hypothesizing, and intervention. The experience can be expanded upon and played out clearly and fully and barriers can be confronted, studied, evaluated, and changed through introducing “what if” situations. Thus the canon of creativity can be effectively applied to problematic life situations. Moreno believed that what is learned in action must also be unlearned in action and since learning occurs in the context of other persons as interactors or audience it is “co-produced.” This is the essence of what we do in the Scars’ Project – “co-produce.”

F-K