On Friday, 17 August 2012, this newspaper carried a press release about the 'dance piece' called 'Magda', which focuses on 'corrective rape'.
The piece was first performed at 'The Space' Theatre, UNAM, on Tuesday, 21 August 2012, and its second performance was at the Goethe Centre, Windhoek on Wednesday, 22 August 2012. As explained by the speaker who introduced the performance to the audience, the piece falls into the genre of ' physical' theatre'.
The cast consisted of OYO (Ombetja Yehinga Organization) members, under the direction of Phillippe Talavera, who has been responsible for many performances exposing and high-lighting numerous social issues e.g. HIV/AIDS and matters which focus on dangerous/risky sexual practices, amongst others.
Following on previous approaches he has used three visiting foreign dancers (Claire Hardy-Canada, Marie Zechiel-Germany and Rhianne Cooper-UK), to complement his local cast, and it must be said that our local contingent was certainly not upstaged by the more experienced performers from abroad. That aspect alone bears considering. Local amateur groups have few opportunities to hone their skills, so the 'Magda' performances were meritorious over and above expectations.
The 'Magda' show was preceded by solo contributions from the three foreign dancers and, though the floor space at the Goethe is not ideal for dance/theatre performances, they acquitted themselves well within the limitations.
Which brings one to the choreography, and it might just be that this was what stole the show. The choreography was creative and built around the strengths of the performers. Sequences were well thought out in a way that enhanced the narrative for the audience.
The dancers were expressive in the narration of the theme, and the energy levels were consistent throughout. Modern dance often fails t to engage and convince and bring the audience on-board.
In this instance, the performance ticked all the right boxes, and the audience left feeling that the production had achieved its purpose, and entertained as a show of modern dance. Here the role of the choreography was as much responsible for the overall success of the production, as was the energy and interpretation by the dancers.
The attention of the audience remained focused, due, in part, to the fact that there were no props, no stage, and no special effects to distract from the performance.
The simple black screen functioned at many levels, and one never felt that anything more was needed. This minimal use of the screen suited the production perfectly. In fact, it would be true to say, that the entire production could be stowed in a suitcase and taken to the various venues in the boot of a small family vehicle.
The issue of 'corrective rape' has been in the public domain, particularly with the exposés in the South African media, where brutal slayings have accompanied the rapes. So, the facts around the crime of 'corrective rape' are not new.
A pertinent question that can be posed, however, has not made it into the media. Firstly, perpetrators are not the 'good men' that are alluded to. They are criminals, with despicable attitudes towards women and girls, the weakest in society, as well as gay men, who are preyed upon.
Why then, does society, and the judicial system, not level the playing field by applying a balancing corrective? Why not castrate (chemically or by other means) these abominable criminals? Do straight men have more rights than gay men and women in our modern democracy with its so-called equitable constitution? Seems not!
'Magda' might be a small step in the context of 'physical theatre' in Namibia, but it could serve as a significant vehicle for positioning the issue of rape in the public domain, and dealing with ways of addressing this blight on Namibian society.
The statistics of rape in Namibia are skewed, because less than half of the crimes are reported, and perpetrators shield behind family members, within families, in closed social circles, and even behind cultural practices.
The time has come for all role players to throw their weight behind programmes aimed at bringing the criminals to court. We cannot remain silent.