Thursday, August 30, 2007

Day #2 - We meet Songs and talk to Ivan

The virgin blogger is online again. SAJ coming to you from Cape Town, South Africa. Today started at about 6:30 a.m. No matter how far I may travel, I am never far from A.C.T.'s conservatory and our beloved MFA students. I did some work on the upcoming second year production of The Roundhouse. Then I had breakfast and I had to change rooms because my old room was a wifi deadzone. No wifi hotspot, no blog, and we couldn't have that, so I moved all my stuff to another room and all is well. Last night I had to blog from the hotel lobby (oh my, oh my). I am willing to do a lot of things in public, but blogging is not one of them. Now I can blog in the privacy of my room.

I got on the phone and rang up (their term not mine) a number of contacts I made on a previous trip, among them a man named Songs Ngcongolo, a Xhosa gentleman with a vast knowledge of the history of The Struggle and of township life. He came and met with us and we arranged to spend two days with him in various townships. Songs lives in the township of Langa. I also spoke with another friend I made from a previous trip, Ivan Le Kay. Ivan is my age (don't ask) and under Apartheid he and his family were classified as Cape colored and his first language was Afrikaans. He also speaks English, of course, and he told me that he made a point of sending his children to English language schools because he viewed Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor. He now refers to himself as a Black man, something we have in common. Under the old system Songs was classified as Black, he and Ivan and I are all very similar in skin color. Ivan and I shared many stories about our family histories and we discovered many similarities around issues of race and especially skin color that we had in common. In short, darker was bad and lighter was good, and with this distinction came privilege. This was true in South Africa and the U.S.A. We agreed that to a certain extent this is still true.

Think about it and be honest, we respond to skin color, don't we? Forget about what we say publicly, you know in your heart of hearts that you respond to skin color in large and small ways. That idea lies at the very center of Blood Knot and I want to get inside it, eat, sleep, and breath it, so it guides me in my work on this show. I want to confront the truth of that, and take the audience with me eight times a week. I want you to hear the voice of Songs Ngcongolo, he is singing "the Click song." I hope I can download this for you.

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