South Africa is a House On Fire

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Katlego Letsholonyana, Ryan Dittmann and Tebogo Machaba in 'Fire House'. Photos by Toby Ngomane

A poignant piece of theatre that is in some ways ahead of its time. Fire House returns to the festival after having been well received in 2017 and it seems as if it could not have found a better time to come back and grow. Under Kirsten Harris’ direction, Katlego Letsholonyana, Ryan Dittmann, and Tebogo Machaba transport the audience to a firehouse and bring to life the unfortunate story of the death of two firefighters. This devised work is set against South Africa’s rife political backdrop. The South Africa where these civil servants are not even given the correct (if any) equipment to do their jobs.

The three performers use well choreographed and crisp physicality to transform themselves into different objects in the space. With all three characters becoming, at some point, a microphone for another South African politician who has disappointed the country time and again.

The stylised nature of the work and the transformative roles it takes on is particularly commendable. It’s very difficult to laugh and share jokes with these three characters and claim to not be moved by their stories, which are essentially the stories of millions of firefighters in South Africa.

Fire House is indicative of how those who serve the state are forgotten and brushed to the side, of how those without social and financial capital struggle to get the bare necessities. It is indicative of the government’s dismissal of its people. This works strength lies in its production excellence. The performers hold the stage, they hold the audience and they the sincerity of the stories being told. Letsholonyana, Dittmann and Machaba worked exceptionally well together and carried themselves with great energy needed to perform the piece.

Harris and her team set out to remind us of the forgotten heros that are firefighters and that they did. A thoroughly entertaining show, with talented performers and crafted direction this show is a definite must see. It is sure to ignite something in you.

Watch Fire House on 1 July at 19:30, on 2 July at 21:30, on 4 July 13:00, on 5 July at 22:30, 6 July at 12:00 and 20:00, and 8 July at 13:00 at St. Andrews Hall.

By Toby Ngomane

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