I to I
Two poets, some slam, and a whole bunch of other important stuff
Square Space Theatre, UKZN - 29 October – 1 November 2015
Two international artists come together on stage in an original and explosive Spoken Word theatre piece entitled ! to I at the Square Space Theatre from 29 October to November 1.
Iain EWOK Robinson (SA) is everything that Kat Francois (UK) is not. He is the White African European Man to her Black European African Woman. Together they tackle issues of ancestry and identity using the humour, passion and energy of their unique styles of writing and performing poetry. Whether talking to themselves, each other or the audience, these two veterans of the SLAM and the stage are fully engaged in carving out a new space for race to identify itself, using cutting humour and sharp tongues.
Kat Francois is a comedienne, poet, playwright, actress, performer, host, schools and youth facilitator. She was the first person to win a televised poetry slam competition in the UK, winning the BBC3 TV Slam holds the 2005 title for the World Slam Champion in Rotterdam. She is resident poet at Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London, where she hosts and organises a monthly poetry and music night called Word4Word.
EWOK needs no introduction to SA audiences, with a body of work that includes five Spoken Word theatre shows, two poetry anthologies and numerous recorded works. This self-styled "Spoken Word flavoured Hip Hop activist" began his career as a freestyle battle rap and Poetry Slam champion. He is an award winning actor and an educator. His latest show "YOBO" premiered on the Main program at this years Standard Bank National Arts Festival.
Respected artist and film-maker Karen Melissa Logan who directs the ensemble piece, is also tasked with the creating the multi-faceted layering of audio and visual, establishing a mixed-media canvas that blends the body of the performer with the audio-visual elements, and synthesizing the score with what’s spoken on stage. The work also makes use of photography by UK-based Robert Covell.
“I have been interested for some time in what part I could best play in international Black History Month and where I fit into the story that is being told.” explains Robinson, “This personal journey has in many ways been sparked by the impassioned #RhodesMustFall movement and other similar campaigns where young black South Africans are owning their history. The more I read, the more I challenge my own concept of history, the more I try to rethink these stories, and the more I come to realise how bizarre the whole notion of history is. So this piece for me is about confronting my own understanding of history, face to face with someone as strong as Kat whose version would be quite different from mine. We are interested to see how we collectively get to reformat, or recalibrate the stories for future generations – and we hope that as we unpack and challenge each other that we will be able to laugh at ourselves as we do so.”
Kat Francois, who recently participated in the 19th Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, met Ewok at the 2005 Poetry International World Slampionship in Rotterdam, where she took the title. She says "Iain is an artist I respect. He is willing to pose questions and explore racial divisions. Challenging his perceptions of race will be an exciting and necessary process."
Produced by Amehlo Productions, I to I is supported by the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015, a partnership between the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa and the British Council.
I to I runs for 60 minutes at the Square Space Theatre, UKZN, from Thursday 29 October to Sunday 1 November (Thursday/Friday evening performances 7pm; Saturday/Sunday matinee performances 3pm). Tickets are R50 or R30 for student/block-bookings (over 10) and can be purchased at the door.
Photo credit: Sloetry Photography
Kat Francois (UK) and Iain EWOK Robinson (SA)