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Every Year, Every Day, I am Walking

8th April 19

Laura Davidson

The award-winning "Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking" which has toured 17 countries is now at the Baxter's Flipside Theatre and runs for a fortnight. It's a two-handed play featuring Jennie Reznek and Faniswa Yisa.
Ominously beginning with the sound of rain, the piece interweaves the childhood memories of two African sisters, Aggie and Ernestine, with those of their mother. It’s billed as having heralded the first violent attacks on Somali nationals in Cape Town, but don’t let the supposed focus on xenophobia put you off attending. To me, this performance was more about the global wrench of involuntary displacement, difference, and adaptation. The refugee family might have been from Rwanda, the DRC, or Angola, but an invitation to Cameroon led to the script’s development by Magnet Theatre. Whilst I was happy to discover the French of my schooldays hadn’t been completely obliterated, a knowledge of the language isn’t required, being either translated or the action transcending linguistic barriers.

This play is a portrait of anguish, betrayal, dignity and grief. Yet, ultimately it’s a story of hope and a wonderfully tender reflection on painful memories. The utilisation of no more than minimal language and the simplest of props - umbrellas, shoes, flour, colourful shweshwe cloth flapping on a clothes-line - results in the ‘compact travelling theatre’ its Director Mark Fleishman desired. The pair circle gracefully around the simple, intelligent set by Julia Anastasoppulos with superbly-timed choreography and presence. Clever pyrotechnics are used to great effect during the performance, with the audience left in no doubt that the loved ones have no choice but to abandon their home. Music by Neo Muyanga perfectly matches the heightened emotions.

In such a terse piece, it’s not surprising that an abundance of metaphors feature. Fire symbolises first death, then rebirth. The use of sifted flour conveys atmosphere as well as sadness and regret, with missing footprints a reminder of Aggie’s grief. Shoes and footsteps are symbols of escape, growing, moving on. Flipflops become wings, signifying the imagination, the gradual lifting of pain, and finally liberty, reinforcing the repeated motif of the bluebird of freedom. Black/white, white/black; colour matters not, but I found the juxtaposition of the white mother with the black child to be a poignant reminder of Mandela’s hoped-for ‘Rainbow nation’. The acting is excellent, with the two talented leads able to drag us instantly into deep memories of childhood, with a glance or the shrug of an eyebrow denoting one moment bewilderment, the next carefree joy, and another complete devastation. Every fibre of Reznek portrays her poise and devotion to her daughter, and Yisa is a convincing child, forced into adulthood far too early. The Flipside was disappointingly empty the evening I attended, and the duo deserve a much better turn-out for this beautifully rendered depiction of loss and resilience.

Dates: 3 - 13 April 2019
Times: Daily 19:30 - 21.00; Matinees 3 April, 11:00, 6 April 15:00, 11 April 11:00 
Tickets: R50 - R100
Further information: www.baxter.co.za/shows/every-year-every-day-walking
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