HIFA Day 3

8 05 2008

It’s a public holiday, 1st May, so things are pretty quiet in the morning. I use the excuse of covering the first performance of the day to dodge the press briefing. It’s Matthew Gair who has been brought in as a replacement for Angie Nussey, a Canadian singer who thought Zimbabwe “too dangerous”. Half way through he thanks her for dropping out!

“Born a South African and living in Cape Town but still calling Zimbabwe “home”, Mathew Gair was the perfect start to the public holiday. A totally unpretentious singer-songwriter with a dry wit, he has had some notable success with songs released onto the internet and it is not difficult to understand why. His lyrics are thoughtful and his playing and vocals are clear and melodious. The highlight for me was the commercially successful Number 37 about the house in Harare where he spent a lot of his formative years. While not dependent on his music for a living a professional music career can only be a short hop away.

If you enjoy this type of music make a note of his next performance at the Global Stage… And if you are not sure just go along to chill and enjoy anyway! Thank you for coming home to play us Matthew!”

After the performance I drop past the Green Room (not a room at all but a fenced and tented area where the performers and hifAmigos, who bought early membership can hang out) and get my daily tea and muffin. It’s about all I can afford but it’s a pleasant place to chill. I get chatting to the actor who did the Blood Orange show. He’s an affable guy who doesn’t seem too upset that he had his passport stolen the previous night!

In the early afternoon I take a HIFA shuttle bus to the Reps theatre where the cast of Truth in Translation are doing a workshop. There are a lot of workshops on the go during the week that are and integral part of the skills transfer side of HIFA – it’s not all fun and games! This is a more serious one though. I did not see the play but it’s based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in South Africa that dealt with various apartheid issues. The hearings had to be translated simultaneously into the 11 different official languages and the translators (or interpreters as they were officially called) could not be influenced by what they were hearing. This particular workshop centred on the theme of forgiveness.

“It was a surreal experience having my life story and issues on forgiveness recited by a complete stranger to an audience of some 35 people, most of them strangers too. I was sitting in the Truth in Translation workshop held in the recital room at Reps rehearsal room on Stanbic Bank Day.

It was a cosmopolitan mix of all races, ages and sexes and was being hosted by members of the Truth in Translation cast, that excellent show that I missed. I did have a free slot for the workshop though and I must admit it was thought provoking to say the very least. Some six hours later I am still coming to grips with the concept.

The session was started with an introduction and ice breaking session of singing and self introduction. We then paired off with a total stranger and recited in brief our life story and an issue we had with forgiveness to him/her in more detail. That was the easy bit. When my turn came, and I was last in the circle, I had to recite my partner’s story, pretending that I was her, as accurately as I could. Now my training is in the sciences so I condensed her four minute story to about 20 seconds (Julie, as I will call her, forgave me). I am of course not the professional that the South African interpreters (not the same as translators) at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were. It did reinforce though what an incredibly difficult task they had to reproduce simultaneously what they were hearing and not to be influenced by it.”

I did struggle a bit to come up with a forgiveness “issue” but then settled on a beating I got from a soldier a few years back just down the road from the nursery. The details are not that important suffice to say that it was not serious (a cracked rib) but was very unpleasant. There is a discussion time after all the presentations are done and some interesting points are raised (this was all being filmed for a documentary). Some people did feel that the workshop had helped them deal with various issues. One black woman commented “You know it’s been really interesting to find out that the whites have the same problems that we do.” Duh.

I have had quite some time to thing about this whole forgiveness thing and like I commented at the workshop; “I don’t really know what forgiveness is”. I have come to the conclusion that it is a process not an event. I could not confront the soldier who beat me up and say that I forgave him and it would all be forgotten. No ways! I could never forget that. One day it may become irrelevant but is that the same thing as forgiveness? I don’t know. If I ever faced my father’s killer/s would I ever consider the event irrelevant?  I doubt it. Does that mean that I am keeping alive the “lack of forgiveness”? Again, I am not sure. It certainly does not mean that I want retribution. One of the cast members commented to me that she thought that “forgiveness” was the wrong word and that another term should be invented.

My last show of the day is Callate!, a Mexican slapstick comedy that spoofs Mills and Boon and bad Mexican melodramas. Aside from the fact that I don’t like slapstick I have no idea what to make of it and don’t review it. About a quarter of the audience walks out (not suitable for children) a quarter are bemused and the remaining half love it.

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