‘Born Naked’ is back with a bang. Images: Provided
Blaq Widow and her drag mother Queen Bling are back and taking Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre by storm with ‘Born Naked’.
‘Born Naked’ is back with a bang. Images: Provided
Under the careful direction of Kirsten Harris, the dynamic duo, Kopo Jake Nathane, and Lethabo Bereng, bring the celebratory and painful coming of age story, Born Naked, to the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio stage for its Cape debut, from 19 to 30 April 2022.
Inspired by many true stories, the play tells the story of two young drag queens and their journeys of becoming. It centres around the character Blaq Widow and her impactful relationship with her drag mother, Queen Bling.
Traveling in time, it follows Blaq Widow on her journey on trains, to drag pageants, inside back rooms and dressing rooms. It is a complex story layered with the intricacies of two people navigating their way through vibrant, colourful, and sometimes violent spaces in South Africa.
The ambitious and disobedient theatrical work was devised by the director and cast, with script assistance by award-winning writers, Ameera Patel (Scandal, Whistle Stop) and Paul Rowlston (Isibaya, Jacob’s Cross).
A myriad of real South African Queer stories is woven into the play, with specific reference to the life of Thapelo Makhutle, who was brutally murdered in a violent hate crime in Kuruman in the Northern Cape in 2012.
“Born Naked pays homage to Thapelo and to the many other LGBTQI+ people and the lives they lived. I wanted to explore these stories with the cast to interrogate the way in which queer stories are told by the media,” explains Harris.
“I want us to shift our focus to celebrating the memory of their lives rather than the way in which they died. Most importantly, I want us as South Africans to have critical conversations and dialogue about hate crimes and the society that we have created. I want us to talk about the urgent need for the National Assembly to expedite the passing of The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.”
She continues, “Survivors and victims of horrific acts of hate crime in South Africa have inspired us to tell this story. With each new headline, there is a tendency to forget the names and faces of those impacted and affected by brutal acts of violence. The play aims to create dialogue around pressing global issues of identity, gender, race, and patriarchy.”
In 2020 Born Naked made history when it was listed as the first South African Queer play to appear in the IEB curricula as a set work for matric students. This is an indication of the transformative power of representation in storytelling and a curriculum undergoing change and transformation.
The play has been performed with critical success and full houses at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda, the Market Theatre, the Market Theatre Laboratory, and at numerous schools around several provinces in the country.
It has been commissioned and performed several times, by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, for delegates and human rights defenders from around the world.
Steve Kretzmann for The Critter described Born Naked as “fantastically surreal.” Dr Ismail Mahomed, director of the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu Natal said:
“It’s rare to hear the voices of young artists who can still do best what authentic South African theatre does so very uniquely – the ability to tell a story with performances and production values that leave an audience entertained, enthralled, and asking a lot more questions about why we should never put down our weapons in our continued fight for a society that is tolerant and just.”
Cape Town-born, Joburg-based Kirsten Harris, studied at Rhodes University. She is an award-winning theatre-maker, director, and producer.
Kopo Jake Nathane is a Joburg-based, Rhodes University alumnus and an interdisciplinary artist, celebrated as a dynamic emerging South African actor and musician. “We are interested in weaving real South African stories into an imagined theatrical tapestry using performative elements of drag culture, clowning and physical theatre whilst shifting between fantasy and reality,” says Nathane.
Lethabo Bereng, who is no stranger to local stages, screens, and runways, is a celebrated artivist, performer, and Market Theatre Laboratory graduate. “As an ensemble, we are passionate about the art of ritual and spirit present in the performance. This play is a celebration of queer friendship and chosen family, an ode to our mothers, and a tribute to queer communities.”
Together, and in the spirit of collaboration, the company has devised a disobedient, colourful and quirky theatrical offering.
Booking for Born Naked is through Webtickets online at www.webtickets.co.za or Pick n Pay stores. Ticket prices range from R100 to R150. For discounted corporate, group or schools block bookings, fundraisers or charities, contact Carmen Kearns on 021 680 3993 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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