The 2018 Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning play, Sainthood, which interrogates all-boys school culture, written and directed by Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni, comes to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio, from 6 to 27 February, at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 3pm.
Moulded out of pure curiosity on the part of the writer/director who began writing the play after listening to the stories of some of her male friends – former ‘saints’ boys. As a former ‘saints’ girl herself, she had a perfectly good idea what she was dealing with and while some of the experiences were delightful, others were completely petrifying. This dichotomy gave rise to the birth of this essential and vibrant work.
Tiisetso explains, “Adolescence is such an important developmental stage in one’s life and we spend most of it at school and more-often-than-not, we brush it off as something fleeting, when it can be so defining to one’s early adult character.”
“I have watched countless representations of popular high school culture and most of them are usually quite whimsical and animated in nature. I wanted to revert the trope as a ‘survival of the fittest’ representation of South African private schools’ culture that shows that it is not as glamorous as it is so often portrayed.”
She has assembled a hugely-talented, all-male cast comprising recent UCT graduates Adam Lennox, Tevin Musara, Cullum McCormack, Mphumzi Nontshinga and Simphiwe Shabalala.
Sainthood follows five fictional matric boys in a fictional private school through a non-fictional narrative created from stories from books, newspaper articles and anonymous interviews with ‘saints’ boys that cover a range of topics from sexuality to racism.
The play is a minimalist and intense theatre experience that uses elements of physical theatre and chorus work through an escalating episodic structure that is led through a turbulent see-saw between masculinity and femininity that the characters either embrace or beat to death.
St. Gabriel’s, one of South Africa’s most elite private schools, prides itself on a stellar reputation in moulding men of stature, who will hopefully have a positive impact on South African society. The school goes above and beyond to make sure that their students have the best teachers, coaches, equipment and school pride. Anything that threatens this sanctity is rectified with immediate effect any anyone who affronts the system is dealt with swiftly and in accordance with the traditions and rules of the school.
With the more recent outcries caused by incidents at unisex schools such as the Pretoria Girls High hair policy saga of 2016, the St John’s College racist educator incident of 2017 and the Parktown Boys sexual assault tragedy of 2018, Sainthood is not saying anything new, it’s just saying something that has been kept quiet for far too long.
Tiisetso not only writes and directs, she is also a choreographer and performer. With a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Political Science, Philosophy and Drama from Rhodes University and a Bachelor of the Arts (Honours) in Directing for Stage, Writing for Film and Avant-Garde Film from the University of Cape Town, she attempts to make provocative work that deals with themes of violence, sexuality, race and history within a contemporary South African setting.
Sainthood previews at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio on 6 and 7 February, opens on 8 February and runs until 27 February. There are matinee performances on 14 and 21 February at 11am and on Saturdays 9, 16 and 23 February at 3pm. There is an age restriction of 16 years.
Ticket prices range from R50 (scholars/students/seniors and matinee block-bookings of 10 or more), R70 (block-bookings of 10 or more for evening performances) to R100. Booking is now open at Webtickets on 086 111 0005, online at www.webtickets.co.za or from selected Pick n Pay stores.
For discounted school or group block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Sharon Ward on 021 680 3962 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at email@example.com.