Acclaimed poet turns to acting for Beef

WORD MAN: Kgafela oa Magogodi is a poet and a writer. Pic. Mbuzeni Zulu. 25/07/00. © Sowetan.
WORD MAN: Kgafela oa Magogodi is a poet and a writer. Pic. Mbuzeni Zulu. 25/07/00. © Sowetan.

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

One of South Africa's hot poets is turning to stage to tell a story, and this time he is not using poetry, but a play to do so.

Poet, academic and film- maker, Kgafela oa Magogodi's, pictured, Beef starts at the State Theatre on February 13. He also performed at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in June.

Beef has been developed in collaboration with 52 Seasons, a developmental programme of the State Theatre.

But going by the poet's comments, it appears the stakes are high in this season of the production of Beef.

"The test of staging and directing a play against the idiocy that rules our lives is the challenge of calling back a tear to the sore eye; or of recalling the ocean to the source of a fading stream. How do you do that?" asked Magogodi.

"You rehearse with senses open to aesthetic upheavals. Throw out theatre gurus who step on the toes of creation," he said.

"When each player finds their true eye, we meet on stage, not as dancing bodies in costume, but as seeking spirits. We spill into each other, the music's liquid flows and the word speaks its soul into being."

Stripped of the director's sophistry and spin, Beef is about the trial of Gogoa, a warrior and scribe whose fury is inspired by the mutinous scream of the earth's hungry voice.

His stubborn belief that freedom is far awakens a furious appetite for the word. Gogoa makes dreaded revelations and subtle schemes aimed at gagging him fail.

But Gogoa is captured, tortured and accused of spreading spiritual terrorism.

Now let us leave the rest of the story there, as it is best told on stage. The production will be at the Momentum Theatre, at the State Theatre, from February 13.