Lerumo, written and directed by Malaika Ntsoeu and featuring Malaika Motshabi Ntsoeu, Malefu Mariti and Tankiso Sebabole, just closed on 11 April 2021. It was part of the just ended Kuwamba Women’s Theatre Festival which took place at the TX Theatre in Tembisa and featured several productions which were either written or directed by female theatre practitioners as per the festival’s mandate of deliberately creating platforms for female theatre practitioners to showcase work. The festival, now in its 5th year, was paying special homage to respected playwright, storyteller, director and academic Dr. Refiloe Lepere.

Lerumo was a show which primarily in the Sesotho language but one which focused on various themes familiar to contemporary society such as culture, tradition and religion. From the well-thought out set which depicted a rural scene, to the evocative music which included bleating goats and clucking chickens, Lerumo was certainly a production which teleported the small but invested audience from bustling Tembisa township to rural Lesotho, and at the same time evoked a life which many an audience member has at some point in life experienced – that idyllic rural experience.

Lerumo Director, writer: Malaika Ntsoeu. Kuwamba Women’s Theatre Festival at the TX Theatre in Tembisa. Photo credits Sthembiso Radebe and Thokozani Maseko.

On the one hand Lerumo is a celebration of the vibrancy of the Basotho culture and tradition, but also a cautionary tale about the dangers of abandoning that same culture and tradition (though certainly not perfect) for something often abused and misunderstood such as the Christian religion and all that it has been responsible for from the colonial encounter. Lerumo was funny, entertaining and deeply emotional, and the cast and director should be commended for putting together such a compelling and engaging theatre production.

Other productions which were part of the Kuwamba Women’s Theatre showcase included Munyari Eclipse by Mmabatho Chuene and Karabo Mokobane, Mamela by Thandiwe Mqokeli, Once a Woman by Seipone Nkwadipo, Embers of Undying Truth by Marylin Tau and Rules of Engagement by Lerato Mofokeng.

The Kuwamba Women’s Theatre Festival was not only about the theatre performances which were programmed but also featured several workshops targeted at theatre practitioners focusing on subjects such as Producing, Gender in Theatre, Movement, Directing, Festival Curating, Writing, Creative Strategy, Casting, Applied Theatre, Business in the Arts, Devising, Set Design, Choreography and Music Composition and lastly, Adaptability.

Lerumo Featuring Malaika Motshabi Ntsoeu, Malefu Mariti and Tankiso Sebabole. Kuwamba Women’s Theatre Festival at the TX Theatre in Tembisa. Photo credits Sthembiso Radebe and Thokozani Maseko.

The team at TX Theatre certainly did a great job in putting up a well-received festival at a time when Covid-19 and restrictions continue to stifle well-meaning efforts by various private and state institutions and also theatre makers to bring back shows and revive an industry which has been ravaged by more than just the virus.

This article was originally published by The African Theatre Magazine on April 23, 2021, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, click here.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Tonderai Chiyindiko.

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