LOVE IN A TIME OF HAMMERS
In memory of David Kato – Ugandan Gay rights activist
We need love like we need water. We need our humanity like we need air.
“Would I choose to be gay if know I’ll be minority, and be pounded for it?”
This piece explores love, acceptance, and an assortment of mad contradictions in a crucial frontier for human rights on the African continent.
This new work created in collaboration with Forgotten Angle, co-devised by the cast, explores the personal and political conditions in which lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender people live in Africa. Using the situation in Uganda as a starting point, the intention is to create work that challenges homophobic perceptions, as manifested in many African countries, and draw attention to the political ramifications for human rights in general.
In February 2014 Uganda passed a new anti-homosexuality bill which toughened penalties for gay people. Initially, the proposed bill included the death penalty for ‘repeat offenders’ and ‘aggravated’ homosexual acts, and imprisonment for those found guilty of not reporting gay people to the police.
“Homosexuality is just bad behaviour that should not be allowed in our society”
David Bahati, the MP who introduced the bill which included the death penalty in Uganda.
Public support for the death penalty was and is still believed to be widespread. This was whipped up by a frenzied media campaign to ‘out’ and shame gay people, and bolstered by Evangelical Christian Americans whose anti-gay campaigning has been persistent in recent years. This has included the presentation of a petition to the Ugandan parliament claiming homosexuals are responsible for mass recruitment of young people and children into the ‘practice.’
In 2011, whilst the ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill was being tabled, Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay with the headline “Hang them”. After the gay rights activist David Kato took the Rolling Stone to court, successfully suing the paper, he was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Police found no connection. But many believe his death was the result of vigilante gay-bashing.
David Kato was a spirited activist, with a vibrant and brave approach to his work and life. He dreamed of turning his mother’s cassava farm into a gay village, whilst his society wished him dead.
Should a person’s sexuality be controlled by the state? Is an individual’s sexuality the business of society to determine? How can minority rights be understood by a majority? How can dance expression and story work to encourage tolerance? What can South Africa do to support the battle for minority rights in the rest of Africa? What changes do we want to bring about? What story, which images will help us bring about change?
These are some of the questions our process seeks to address, and intends to create a production relevant to a South African audience. David Kato’s story is the starting point to finding story and expression of cultural resistance.
When conceived the process aimed to include a combination of:
• Internalizing real experiences of people who are struggling with homophobia, persecution, LGBTI activism in the African context – including drawing upon testimony from activists, sexual-minority migrants, Diaspora residing in South Africa.
• Finding physical expression and an aesthetic for the journey towards destruction which follows extreme intolerance.
• Finding physical expression and an ‘experience’ that reflects the beauty of diversity.
• Questioning how space, aesthetic and ritual can be used to reflect the dehumanizing, brainwashing impact of discrimination.
The work is being made with a life after the 5 week residency in mind, with onward touring to professional venues and educational and/or community settings.
Choreographed By: Mcintosch Jurahuni (Zimbabwe)
Directed by Melissa Eveleigh (UK/Zimbabwe/Malawi)
Music: Dave Carey (UK)
Performed by Nosi Samenete, Thulani Chauke, Thabo Kobeli, Nicholas Aphane, Charlston van Rooyen
Design: Sasha Ehlers
Lighting Design: Thabo Pule
Produced by The Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative
H28 is the lead dance production of THATSOQUEER 2014 (#TSQ) and is made possible with generous financial assistance and support from RMB, Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and Business and Arts South Africa. #TSQ is presented by UJ Arts & Culture in partnership with UJ LIBERATI, UJFM 95.4, Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA), the Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative (FATC) and WHAM! Mambaonline is the official media partner of #TSQ.
H28 – Love in a time of hammers will be staged in Johannesburg at the Con Cowan Theatre. There will be three performances only – 30 October at 7.30pm, 31 October at 7.30pm and 1 November at 3pm. Tickets cost R50 and can be booked via firstname.lastname@example.org or purchased at the door.
Please note there is an age restriction of 16 years and under.