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Saturday, November 18, 2017


A few seats available next week for the three public performances of the new production The Last Country.

Durban theatre-makers Mpume Mthombeni and Neil Coppen (part of the Empatheatre team responsible for UlWEMBU, which looked at street-level drug addiction in the city of Durban) have created an immersive 60-minute theatrical production which incorporates over 30 oral histories collected as part of a larger research and advocacy project titled Migration and the Inclusive City.

Through focusing on the everyday experiences of migrant women in the city of Durban, the project aims to develop a participatory city-led policy framework around migration, and it sets out to challenge problematic stereotypes around migration in the city.

The theatre production will see top KZN actresses Mpume Mthombeni, Philisiwe Twijnstra, Nompilo Maphumulo and Zintle Bobi bringing the stories of women hailing from the DRC, Zimbabwe, Somalia and KZN to life.

Coppen sees the new theatrical collaboration with the UFC as an extension of the Invisible lives series of plays, which began with ULWEMBU and formed similar pro-active partnerships with academic institutions, faith-bodies like the Denis Hurley Centre (DHC), police, civil society, city-officials etc.

“With these sorts of documentary/research based theatre projects,” he says, “we get to employ theatre as powerful story–telling tool and instrument of empathy. From our last project ULWEMBU, we learnt how impactful such a medium can be in articulating the struggles faced by many, while at the same stimulating and encouraging pro-active responses and solutions from participating audiences and stakeholders”.

For Mthombeni, the theatre component of this project has the ability to provide these incredible women with a platform for their struggles and concerns to be heard: “It has been an incredibly humbling process working with these women and their stories over the last six months” says Mthombeni. "With this play we are hoping as actresses and story-tellers to do justice to them. It is only once we hear and provide access to these important stories, that we are able as a community, to form some sort of effective response to helping”.

This project is run through a partnership between the Urban Futures Centre at the Durban University of Technology, the Democracy Development Program, and the African Solidarity Network, and it is funded by the Cities Alliance. The play component is headed up by Mpume Mthombeni, and it is produced by Empatheatre with the generous support of the DHC.

The three public performances of The Last Country take place on November 23 at the Courtyard Theatre (19h00) and November 25 at the Denis Hurley Centre (10h00 and 12h00).