Theatre: Space of Knowledge Rehearsing – Mwange|Becker
Two theatre practitioners from Namibia and Germany in 2019 engaged on a project through the Goethe-Institut International Co-production Fund to manifest a theatre production that investigates theatre as a space in which knowledge and reflection are explored and shared. Sepiso Mwange and Mathias Becker reflect on their own experiences and fears, the power of history and their own position within it.
Through interviews and their own research processes, they seek to learn more about performative practices, the formation of knowledge in the theatre space and the meaning of archives, with Namibia as an example. Working towards Rehearsing Mwange|Becker begun in 2018 through an artistic collaboration.
“This production has evolved from a canonical European motive as a point of departure to question our relationship to theatre,” said Becker who studied contemporary puppetry in Berlin. Puppetry was one of the starting points for this devised theatre production.
“We first met in 2018 and instead of having this be a once-off encounter, we decided to continue collaborating. Together with the Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (KAYEC) we offered an animation and storytelling workshop for children,” said Mwange, who is an applied theatre practitioner and performing arts lecturer at the University of Namibia.
“Puppetry creates the platform for dialogue and functions as a communicator between the performer and the audience. Speaking from a personal perspective makes it easier to approach sensitive topics, like the colonial history of a building that is still a space of knowledge, learning and refection,” said Becker.
“We wanted to explore the NTN through its history and the responsibility that we occupy within that space – by making reference to social constructs and how this space reflects life. Mathias Becker looked at how he could possibly have a connection to Namibia given our country’s history, using his surname as an entry point,” said Mwange. She used storytelling and talked about her relation to her understanding of what it means to be Namibian, and what theatre means to her.
“It was important for us to interact with the audience. This was not a theatre sports performance in which the instructions from the audience determined the storyline - we encouraged the audience to interact with each other while what we do on stage develops - to make them think about many things such as important moments in their lives,” said Mwange.
Becker said the stage became a hybrid space in which they toggled between theatre space and archive. “This illustrated the communication between us as theatre professionals. We were critical of the communication process and also deployed the use of organic and electronic sounds as our way of communicating,” said Becker.
Rehearsing Mwange|Becker is scheduled for 22-24 November 2019 at the Schaubude Berlin. Click here for more information.