Rain in a Dead Man's Footprints

Direction: Mark Fleishman & Alfred Hinkel
Choreography: John Linden, Ina Wichterich-Mogane & Sifiso Kweyama
Musicians: Neo Muyanga & Tandile Mandela
Lighting: Paul Abrahams
Designs and special acrobatic effects: Craig Leo

• Premiered at Oude Libertas: 17-20 March 2004
• Grahamstown National Arts Festival: 7-10 July 2004
• Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, 28-31 July 2004
• FNB Dance Umbrella, Market Theatre, Johannesburg, 24-25 February 2005
• Mogale City, Muldersdrift, Gauteng, 1-2 March 2005
• Okiep Festival, Namaqualand, 1-2 December 2005
"... beautiful, haunting and visually amazing but contains as its core a deadly serious story. It shows powerfully how the written word can become yet another violence being perpetrated on a people who are already suffering the ignominy of being hunted to death like animals."
Cue, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, 2004

Rain in a Dead Man's Footprints is the sixth collaboration between Alfred Hinkel of Jazzart and Mark Fleishman of Magnet Theatre, a partnership that has produced some of South Africa's most acclaimed productions such as Medea, Vlam, Cold Water/Thirsty Souls and community-based projects such as the Clanwilliam Arts Project.

Rain in a Dead Man's Footprints developed out of research done and skills honed on collaborations like the 1995 production of The Sun, the Moon and the Knife and the 1999 outdoor production of Vlam. The Sun, the Moon and the Knife was based on Return of the Moon: versions of poems by the /Xam people of the Northern Cape that were translated by Stephen Watson. They were narrated by tribe members //Kabbo, /Han#kasso and Dia!kwain, who were interviewed and recorded by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd in the late 19th century. These created the platform for the creative presentation of aspects of their stories with the help of Craig Leo's skills in puppetry, aerial, circus and illusion work and the musical talents of Neo Muyanga, a founder member of blk sonshine.

Vlam was held on 16 December 1999 (Reconciliation Day) in a large vacant lot in District Six. It featured large sculptural objects, backpack puppets, musical instruments made from PVC plumbing pipes, fire performance techniques, lanterns, dance and music. Some of these elements have also been used in the Clanwilliam Arts Project, a collaboration among Professor John Parkington (Archeology Department, University of Cape Town), Professor Pippa Skotnes, (Michaelis School of Fine Arts), Jazzart Dance Theatre, Namjive and Magnet Theatre. It aims to return the heritage of the rock art of Clanwilliam to the community.

The richness of imagery in /Xam storytelling and the sophisticated nature of their extensive non-verbal communication made Rain in a Dead Man's Footprints the perfect vehicle for translation into performance. The work is a theatrical journey into the many legends and beliefs of the /Xam that through illusion, movement, words, song and imagery, invites the audience to contemplate what was lost and has been found; what once was and what now exists.

" ... A transposition into dance of anthology garnered from folklore about /Xam convicts rescued from a breakwater Jail circa 1870, Rain focuses on articulate storyteller Lucy Lloyd. And through narration, song, movement, illusion, acrobatic agility and musical sounds, recounts anecdotes that Lucy phonetically recorded concerning //Kabbo, Han#kasso and Dia!kwain, three !Xam tribesmen living with her and her historian brother Wilhelm Bleek in their Mowbray house between 1870 and 1884 ... The diversity between white people's lifestyle and the little brown people was clear ... //Kabbo's gauche sewing and Muyanga's soulful singing of Rain .... to Tandile Mandela's accompaniment brought home this people's innocence and how shameful land and water hole theft - as well as needless slaughter by trekboers' guns of men, women and game - caused this ancient tribe's demise... "
Sheila Chisholm, Cape Times, March 23, 2004

Photography: Garth Stead, for Admaster Productions' documentary on the history of Jazzart