Nkateko Priscilla Masinga takes Wither/With Her to LitFest in Harare
Pretoria >> Harare
Performances and workshops will take place daily from 27 November to 1 December
13 Faurea Crescent, Msasa Park Chadcombe, Harare, Zimbabwe.
On the 2nd and 3rd of December Nkateko will host outreach events in Gweru and Bulawayo respectively.
Wither / With Her by Nkateko Priscilla Masinga is partly inspired by a short story about a psychiatrically disturbed patient who is the first human test subject for surgery to artificially increase mental functioning. By examining the outcome of the surgery through the patient’s daily diary entries, the story gives readers a rare and personal glimpse into the mind.
Nkateko explains: “My research question is whether we can gauge the mental state of a writer by reading his/her work. I have searched for answers in the poetry and prose of women who were known to suffer from mental illness and addressed this in their writing. Reading material on suffrage and women’s rights over the years showed me specifically the mental despair caused by oppression and marginalization.”
The resulting performance piece follows the journey of a woman navigating her own transgenerational trauma by reading diary entries of the women in her bloodline, thus discovering the aetiology of her present suffering.
The aim of this piece is to explore the topic of mental health through performance poetry. The poems in the production allow the audience to not only “wither” with the performer by sharing her experiences but also interact with the work in two ways: responses and interventions. Audience members respond during the performance by holding up a card (cards will be handed out before the performance begins) that describe how a poem/scene makes them feel. They can intervene by holding up a card with a sentence describing what they would do to assist the “withering” woman.
Nkateko adds that “to be able to do this in Zimbabwe, where people are currently suffering due to economic and political challenges is important to me because we need to make stronger efforts to mend the relationship that South Africa has with people from other African countries, which has been broken due to distrust and disunity because of the xenophobic violence in South Africa. By collaborating in this manner, we can show the world that through mutual understanding we can build an open Africa in which we exchange information and art. We face the same struggles in our various countries in Southern Africa and we can overcome them by owning the narrative and reclaiming our power.”