Heading to the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse in Balgowan at 7.30pm on March 10 is The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri, a finely crafted monument to memory.
Written by Tony Miyambo, Gerard Bester and William Harding, the play was commissioned by Gita Pather, director of Wits Theatre, in 2014 to be part of a the inaugural So Solo Festival.
It went on to make a historic appearance on the main platform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown – the first time an original Wits Theatre production has been invited to do so.
Performed by Tony Miyambo, with direction by Gerard Bester and dramaturgy by William Harding, The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri is an intensely personal reconstruction of Tony Miyambo’s memories of his father, Daniel Rasenga Miyambo.
The play explores an intimate father-son relationship recalled and reconstructed through remembered moments from the past, fading images captured in sepia toned photographs, conjured up conversations , snippets of music, truths and half- truths. It is an ancient human attempt to connect our present to the past by mapping our relationships with the one’s we love.
The Cenotaph for Dan wa Moriri finds form in grief, and examines the disappearance and reconstruction of memory to honour the intimacy of individual history.
In her review of the play, renowned theatre critic, Adrienne Sichel, said: “Memorials and cenotaphs tend to be built out of marble or granite. In memory of his beloved father 26-year-old actor Tony Miyambo has created a deeply poignant monument out of words and mercurial movement.”
Bester, Miyambo and Harding worked together to create the play. Describing the process Miyambo said: “Dealing with my personal biography to create The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri has been one of the most difficult yet rewarding processes…
“When Daniel Rasenga Miyambo died in 2007, the world stopped for at least a week. The funeral was planned, food was prepared, people arrived, he was put into the ground, people washed their hands, ate the food and life moved on but I couldn’t.
“Waking up each day after that was painful; I could still vividly recall the tone of his voice, the colour of his eyes and the feeling of his touch. It haunted me, he lived everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Our life together became an endless loop and the years began to strip away the detail of this man from my mind.
“My father never got to see me on stage and every time I perform the piece I feel as though I am having a conversation with the audience, myself and my dad.”
Tickets for The Cenotaph of Dan Wa Moriri at the Schlesinger Theatre at Michaelhouse are R100 (R80 concessions). Bookings: www.tickethut.co.za/michaelhouse, email Angela Jonsson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 033 234 1314 weekdays between 8 am and 1 pm.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
Gerard Bester graduated from Wits Drama School in 1990 with a BA Dramatic Arts. He is an actor, arts administrator, director and teacher and currently the director of the Hillbrow Theatre Project.
Tony Miyambo graduated with a BA Dramatic Arts in 2011 and was awarded the prize for best actor in a dramatic role at Setkhani Encounters Festival in Prague in 2011 for his role in Relativity: Township Stories.
He was also the recipient of the coveted Brett Goldin Award in 2014; performed in Kafka’s Ape which won a Silver Ovation award at the NAF and was invited to perform at the Amsterdam fringe festival.
William Harding graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2011 with a BADA degree. He is an actor and playwright, as well as a member of The Fortune Cookie Theatre Company. His writing credits include a new translation if Moliere’s The Miser (co-written with Sylvaine Strike) and Tobacco, and the Harmful Effects Thereof (an adaptation of the Anton Chekhov monologue) and Travels Around My Room.