This is my first Fringe Festival and the visually graphic solo dance performance Stof Rooi (red fabric in Afrikaans) is one of the most unusual and dynamic I’ve seen. Described as “physical theatre,” the powerful production “explores the conflicts of language and identity associated with the world of ancestry and the present-day reality of a boy in the Northern Cape”.
It was performed at Cape Town City Hall in the catacombs of the small KleiSand Theatre, with the audience seated intimately close to the riveting performance.
Performer Dustin Beck portrays a young matriculate contemplating how he will leave his mark in the world. Described as a “ritualistic performance” at times the dancer in Stof Rooi seemed mime-like to me. The audience watched the “anxiety to pass metric consume the young boy as he battled to prove his worth”.
Beck’s spellbinding performance graphically communicates the boy’s emotions. His “intricate foot work, the stage lighting, and magic of dust” explore a “boy running from his name and bloodline towards a future filled with more promise, hope, and meaning”.
Stof Rooi was made possible by the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. The Collective provides a venue for local theatre practitioners and enables people from diverse backgrounds to “come together to create work, develop skills, and perform”.
“Stof Rooi’s sound and movement speak to the dream space of the ancestors in a language and vocabulary” deeply rooted in the boy’s mind and body but one that he does not understand. His reality is the language of school systems and gang initiations.
The two worlds (dream and real) fight to occupy the boy’s body. He “fights against both and to prove himself beyond a culture and heritage that seems to have no future”.
The original production was performed at the Obs Family Festival. During the Festival young people encouraged high school learners from the Cape Flats to engage with the performance and really physically understand the complex struggle it addresses.
Director Jason Jacobs is skilled in teaching, acting, dance, and physical theatre. He was nominated for a coveted Fleur du Cap Theatre Award for Best Young Director.
Jacobs lectures at drama, dance, and creative writing workshops and has won many awards. He is recognized as a theatre-maker, playwright, and mentor for the ASSITEJ SA Theatre4Youth Western Cape Mentorship Programme. Jacobs co-founded KleiSand Theatre which encourages positive thinking in South African youth through “inventive, cutting-edge theatre and dance”.