A collaboration with Theatre4Change, a non-profit group based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Holy Contract is an independent and experimental theater production. Founded by actor, presenter, writer, and director, Mandisi Sindo (aka Dr Disi), the organization aims to make theater accessible to a diverse audience, while prioritizing the empowerment of actors living in Khayelitsha by bridging the gap between mainstream theater and talent in the townships. Inspired by the late poet and musician, Gil Scott-Heron, Holy Contract is set against the backdrop of South Africa’s contemporary urban challenges, tackling themes around social justice and identity politics. Dialogue switches between Xhosa and English.
Urban-Think Tank has been working for the past three years within Cape Town’s informal settlements, and this production is a result of real stories that have emerged through interactions with residents. We approach theater as an alternative means of making and activating city spaces. The script was written during a series of workshops run with the actors in Khayelitsha. Scott-Heron’s work, which often built upon parallels between racial oppression in the United States and South Africa’s Apartheid regime, played a key role during the project’s inception, with existing lyrical content informing and inspiring the creation of new material.
The production will debut at Makukhanye (meaning ‘let there be light’) Art Room, a ‘shack theater’ in Khayelitsha. Performances are also scheduled at two additional venues as part of the 2016 Cape Town Fringe Festival — Guga S’Thebe in Langa, and City Hall. The play is conceived in part as a form of artistic activism, intended as the first step towards building a new theater for the community. Learning from the Empower Shack project, research into the existing urban arrangement and planned redevelopment of the neighboring Site B Market Stalls will be conducted. Thando Mpengezi, founder of Makukhanye Art Room and recently elected council member, is in full support of the proposal. Andrew Todd, who worked on the Young Vic theater in London, will join the design team and a link to Theatrum Mundi is planned.