Silent Prints leaves no mark

silent-printsI usually don’t like an entire production. There’s often something I’d have done differently, i.e. … subjectivity. My approach: if at least 85% of a production speaks to me, I don’t feel the need to pick apart the other 15% … that’s negligible nitty-gritty and for a director’s post-performance notes.

Unfortunately Silent Prints did not work well enough to crack my 85% requisite…

[Side note: I wish the festival hadn’t abandoned noting “amateur / student / professional” in the programme – this helps us all know what we’re going in to.]

The good:
The dancer, Khaya Ndlovu, who also directed and choreographed, is a very good mover. She performs with great presence and is a highly-skilled dancer. Her co-performer, Zanele Ndlovu, is also gifted with strong presence. The lighting design creates some lovely states. The idea of the silhouette behind the drawn on Bantu Identity Card was interesting. It invokes imagery of the dark shadow left on all people who suffered under having to carry a dompas.

The not-so-good:
Although I love fragmented work, it must have strong links. Silent Prints needs to find its links otherwise it comes across as a series of random images. The voiceover seems to “explain” what the work is about… which shouldn’t be necessary if the work hung together strongly. Khaya Ndlovu and Zanele Ndlovu mouth along to some of the words and the singing, respectively. This isn’t necessary. While Khaya moves, we can understand that the voiceover is connected to her dance; and Zanele’s voice sounds wonderful and shouldn’t be drowned out by the song played over the sound system. Although Khaya is a great dancer, the choreography seems one-dimensional and reliant on facial expressions to portray her angst.

I can see where Silent Prints wants to go, and its potential for getting there. There are some great moments and ideas… but overall the production needs editing, stronger connection between ‘scenes’ and an outside eye to help tie it all together.

– Sarah Roberson

Click here for production info. One show left on 11 July @ 18.00 @ Centenary Hall.

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