Seen on March 17, 2015 @ Hillbrow Theatre, Johannesburg
An empty stage fills with a large djembe and a handful of teenagers dressed in two different colours find their voice. The ordeal is set.witnesses are called. A judge is present. A young girl stands against the cruelty of her uncle. What follows is a long flash back to the early nineties. While the eyes of the world were on the end of Apartheid in South Africa unspeakable atrocities took place in the centre of the continent. Isaro evokes that dark chapter of the genocide that took place among Hutu’s and Tutsi’s. It is the story seen through the eyes of a girl who was born in that power struggle that is skilfully represented by Bomo, the secretive male leader of the Hutu army who fell in love with Fatima, the female leader of the Tutsi rebel commander.
The struggle is felt in its infancy when family traditions do not allow the lovers to fully enjoy their attraction to each other. The hurt runs deep and when the rejection becomes political when Fatima marries Bomo’s brother, a spiral of revenge and murder is set into motion until all that is taken is no more. Except for Isaro, fleeing from refugee camp to refugee camp to the south of the continent. Where was the world? Where was the world? chants the cast and that keeps ringing like an alarm not be ignored.
This play where the only attributes are scarfs and rags in two colours and the words of the actors are mixed with songs and dance can be played on any stage. It tells the powerful story of a power struggle that is not far from today’s power struggle between the nation’s political parties that expresses the fear that history can repeat itself. At the same time it is a plea to respect the stranger in our midst. Often we have no idea what a person has lived through before leaving their home country.
This question of belonging and where home is is a common thread in this year’s productions of the Hillbrow Theatre Company.
A remarkable and deeply moving performance of very young excellent performers from innercity Johannesburg that grapple with painful issues and find their voice to tell a powerful story.
Isaro: The Forgotten One – Directed by Gcebile Dlamini (Hillbrow Theatre Project)