Heartfelt Home

Thola Antamu performs in Home
Thola Antamu performs in Home

Home was just what the doctor ordered after a long festival weekend.

Three young women perform an effectively pared down and distilled production directed by Luke Brown and written by Penelope Youngleson.

With a smooth blend of dance, song, and soliloquy, Home looks at South African families through the eyes of three generations. We are intermittently taken back to a grandmother’s time in 1976 Orlando West, Soweto; taken through a mother’s challenges looking after her daughter; and taken into a child’s experience being raised by her single mom.

The grandmother (Rudzani Moleya) tells of her experience of the 1976 Soweto uprising. “How heavy is language?” she asks. Being forced to learn the language of your oppressor extends physical oppression to attempting to infiltrate the mind. “…pieces of that day are stuck to my body”, she says. Our painful history is inescapable. It is relived in all our daily interactions.

The mother (Thola Antamu) toils under harsh circumstances to feed her child and look after everyone at home. The sting in this story is that it is not unique. It is well-known throughout South Africa – the woman-headed household, the woman who wakes at 4am to prepare the children for school, cook and clean, the woman who relies on unreliable public transport to her hard day’s work. Go home. Repeat. When will the time come in South Africa that this is not the norm for so many? What has to happen for change?

The daughter’s story (Ciara Baldwin) considers the changing light of perspective as one grows up. As a young child, home is colourful and where the heart is, her mother tells her. But once she’s older the light greys as she reflects on how hard her mother had to work to keep their home afloat. The daughter recalls her mother never crying when they were growing up, “but now she cries all the time”. It’s sad. It speaks to a life filled with regret and troubles.

The story-telling is heartfelt yet unsentimental, and illuminates some core issues about South African life: living with our fraught history, the socio-economic hardships most South Africans suffer daily, trying to understand difficult choices made in families in order to survive.

The choreography by Ciara Baldwin, assisted by Nathan Bartman, and original music composed by Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi worked to enhance Home, to great effect. A multidisciplinary work risks being predictably episodic yet in Home, the music floats and intertwines subtly between dance and monologues. The dance too, fits alongside the storytelling, evocatively expressing what the words cannot, can never, articulate.

Home is tender and touching and it reflects with honesty on South African issues which affect us all. Thola Antamu, Rudzani Moleya and Ciara Baldwin are triple-threats: dancers, singers, actresses – all are major talents to watch out for. Their skilful ease of performance makes Home an enjoyable yet thoughtful production to watch. And the audience similarly approved with thunderous applause.

– Sarah Roberson

Click here for production info. Home is on daily @ 5pm @ Glennie Hall.

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