By: Kgabo Chuene
A month or so ago I saw a poster on Facebook which read “Auditions, Lineage: Herstory” with the times and venue that the auditions would take place. I had been incredibly hungry to be on a theatre stage for a while since I had last played three years before. As I’m analysing what the title even meant I realise that the audition dates had passed. Then I thought I should inbox them anyway and ask if they can maybe make a plan for me to audition. The next day I get a response which not only was a yes but I could actually let them know of the most convenient day and time for me. So excited, I phoned my friend and told her about it and we decided we’d go audition together. I was however in a very tricky situation. I was due to go on tour with the Wits Choir to Namibia slam bang in the middle of when the rehearsals would take place for all of ten days, but I wanted this so badly that I decided I’m going to go for it in any case.
Come audition day, all goes well and I’m faced with having to drop the upcoming tour bomb. I must admit that I was deliberate in the order of how I did things (kind of a bit selfish on my side) but I really wanted it and I can go a bit nuts when I want things badly sometimes. Anyway, so now it’s a dilemma for them having to decide whether to take me on despite this or not, and I remember specifically saying to the directors “I’m asking you to take a chance on me”. Then it was like déjà vu.
Back in 2012 I did my first ever theatre play which would actually be the spark that ignited my changing the entire course of my career and life. I did a play which was staged at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, from that experience I was hooked on Art and went absolutely crazy and went on to change degrees from Bcom Accounting to a Bachelor of Music.
So despite my having to miss rehearsal for ten days they decided they’d take me on. Now at this point I’m excited but I was also freaking out, I was freaking out about how I’d manage my time and just the logistics of it all (which I was aware of the whole time except now it was really happening). I wrote the following in my journal that night: I got all shades of nervous today; I’ve committed to do a play while there’s a choir tour. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a theatre stage and I’m scared I’ll suck. As I’m writing this I feel so silly because it’s like I can feel my subconscious repairing itself, I got through the audition process but most importantly I was validated by the invitation, I’ve got nothing to prove. I’m fit for this, I will rock this.
A week into rehearsal I find out that the tour has been postponed. I thought, SERIOUSLY!!! Imagine I had simply just decided to not audition because of it but also imagine they had decided those are too many rehearsal days to miss (because they really are) and had not taken me on. I remember just feeling the breath of God in that moment, that wonderful feeling that I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing and what’s a bigger blessing is that I am loving it.
On the day we auditioned, they asked us why we wanted to be a part of the show and my response was that “you had me at Herstory” and if you know me, you’d know that I am passionate about women and doing away with the things that continue to hold us back and I’m painfully aware of the work that I still have to do with just myself, from even just what I think about myself, so for me it was definitely a narrative I wanted to be a part of.
The process opened me up to parts of myself I wonder whether would have surfaced had it not been this experience. I had to confront uncomfortable insecurities about some of the things I think I suck at and even some of the issues I have with my body, some of which I thought I had overcome.
We weren’t completely let in the loop about how the play would eventually come together. However, every rehearsal would turn out to be a puzzle piece that would later all fit perfectly together to make such a stunning picture. My favourite of cause was the music and the writing. I had to do all of it though, including movement and acting (duuuh Sabby) lol!
Inability makes me freak out, I’m likely to go try out the thing that someone suggests I can’t do but I found myself struggling to tap into this part of myself in this process and for the life of me I’m still trying to figure out what it was about this that had me crippled sometimes as opposed to the bulldozer vibe that I do all so often (clearly demonstrated by even how I fostAd to even be in the play in the first place).
In retrospect I think I had forgotten that it had been three years since I had done acting, it’s like I expected to be able to solo over the sound of traffic without understanding a single music scale (and I’m not taking away from the humans that can) but I need to work hard to get to a competent place with things. So the process for me was also a reminder for myself about this fact. It was also packed with beautiful moments, engaging with how different people think and do life is a breath of fresh air. The culmination of it all was of cause the final product and the performance of it. With every performance there was more and more. After one show I texted my mother and said “Art is the best decision I’ve ever made” and she responded with an enthusiastic “Praise the Lord”.
I’m grateful for it all. Shout out to Tshego Khutsoane and Khutjo Green for your magic and madness and lessons, boy did I learn and learn, but most importantly for really taking a chance on me. To my incredible fellow cast members, it was a joy! To my friend Nyiko, thank you for knowing when to throw me a floater and when to just let me swim.
Adding to the gorgeous words of Jacqui, Go in the direction of your dreams and “make good choices”.