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Empatheatre Production in partnership with the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) Urban Futures Centre and Rhodes University are hosting a new theatre production called Lalela uLwandle, this month, October 2019.

Lalela uLwandle (Listen to the Sea) is a new production currently touring around coastal towns in KwaZulu-Natal. A formal theatre run at UKZN’s Square Space Theatre will commence from 15 to 19 October 2019.

The production is an interactive immersive theatre and public storytelling experience, led by the Empatheatre collective. It focuses on untold stories of living with the ocean.

Drawing from seven months of collaborative action research into the lives of different KwaZulu-Natal citizens along the coast, this project brings to the surface the lived realities of people involved directly and indirectly with the ocean.

Senior researcher from DUT’s Urban Futures Centre Dr Kira Erwin said the process of putting the production together took months of narrative data collection, including oral histories with sangomas and members of the Zionist Church, focus group interviews with marine educators, fisherfolk from KwaZulu-Natal and interviews with a number of marine scientists.

She added that narrative data, together with archival data on Seine Fishermen from Durban’s Indian community was woven together by Empatheatre into a theatre production.

“This theatre production is a way in which to disseminate research findings, as well as a participatory research methodology. It offers a space where different and divergent voices remain in conversation with each other about peoples’ relationships with the sea, especially considering the pressing issues facing humanity at the moment in relation to healthy oceans,” said Dr Erwin.

The production is led by Dylan McGarry and Taryn Pereira at the Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University, in close collaboration with Kira Erwin at the Urban Futures Centre, Durban University of Technology and forms part of the One Ocean Hub, a global action research network led by Strathclyde University and funded by the UKRI Global Challenge Research Fund.

The writing team, led by Neil Coppen with contributions from Helen Walne, Gcina Mahlope, Mpume Mthombeni, Dylan McGarry, Taryn Pereira and Kira Erwin, pieced together verbatim oral histories, interviews, focus group discussions, archival research and traditional local stories into a rich and thickly described narrative of fictional characters hopes, dreams and concerns for KwaZulu-Natal’s shared coastal and oceanic heritage.

Additionally, Lalela uLwandle is performed by Durban-based actors Mpume Mtombeni (playing Nolwandle, a marine educator with an ancestral heritage in Zulu spirituality), Alison Cassels (playing Faye, a white retired marine scientist and recent widow) and Rory Booth (playing Niren, a young South Durban social and environmental activist, and descendent of a long line of Durban Indian fisherfolk).

Shows are free of charge but people are urged to reserve their seats ahead of time. For bookings, contact Tamlynn Fleetwood: / cell: 0791864423



Thursday 10th October
Hluhluwe Rugby Club
Performance 5: 12h00
Performance 6: 18h00

Friday 11th October
Mbazwana Arts Centre Sodwana Bay
Performance 7: 12h00 – Ezemvelo KZN venue
Performance 8: 18h00

Saturday 12th October
Richards Bay Zululand Chamber of Commerce
Performance 9: 15h00
Performance 10: 19h00

All Durban Performances are to be held at the Square space at UKZN Howard college campus

Tuesday 15th October
Performance 1: 12h00
Performance 2: 19h00 (official opening media/special guests invite only)

Wednesday 16th October
Performance 3: 12h00
Performance 4: 19h00

Friday 18th October
Performance 6: 19h00

Saturday 19th October – back at Square space UKZN
Performance 7: 12h00
Performance 8: 19h00

Pictured: Durban based award winning Actress and Empatheatre co-director Mpume Mthombeni performing as Nolwandle, a marine educator who tells the story of her grandmother (a traditional healer from Kosi Bay) and her mother (a Zionest healer).

Nomfundo Ngcobo

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