Truth and Reconciliation

5 Oct


It is a busy Friday night in Peckham Rye. In between the many hair salons and food shops stands a man in red, handing out flyers and inviting passers-by to enter the Bussey building, which could easyly be overlooked by Peckham’s busy buzz. However, as I pass the man to enter the building, I find the noise instantly disappearing and me standing in a backyard of which its walls display “Truth and Reconciliation”.

These are two very powerful words and I wonder what the director Debbie Tucker Green’s creativity will make of these words.

Above everything I have expected, I find myself in a play that exceeds my expectations in applying the concept of “Truth and Reconciliation” to major world events that have not only shook humanity but shall never be forgotten because of the deep lessons that we can learn.

The play takes you on a journey. It starts off with a court scene in which different families appear simultaneously, it seems, but nevertheless at different times in history; from Bosnia (1994) to Zimbabwe (2007) and including Northern Ireland. Families from these communities find themselves struggling with the aftermath of the conflict and the internal struggle to demand the “truth” or to simply forget. This is the basis of the Director’s brilliant writing skills as well as the actor’s amazing capabilities.

Not only is the audience drawn into a world far beyond our own everyday lives, but the play seems to show significant similarities between the stories and raises the question of universal courage and justice.

The play is not the only startling and special experience; taking a 22-cast member play out of confines of a traditional theatre setting, really liberated the experience of going to the theatre. It was a really wonderful fusion of theatre, conversation and music.

Interview with one of the cast members

Among the various stories is the South African soldier who is haunted by the 14 year old girl he murdered 22 years ago. Tucker shows us an interesting insight of the psyche of a haunted man. It is Susan Wokuma, who plays the part of the 14 year old girl, who I was fortunate enough to interview.

How would you describe your role?

I am a young 14 year old girl living in Soweto in 1976. Apartheid is the only thing I have ever known, being unaccepted within my own society and I decide to take part in a demonstration to change the oppressing conditions of my country. It seems that I happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when the bullets of the soldier kill me. As a women of my age, I was not only bold but very bright and could have had a promising future in the years to come…

What benefits does showing the play in Peckham have for the local community?

Some people can feel intimidated by coming to the Royal Court, simply by the distance. Also, the theatre is quite aware that it does not reach a significant number of communities within London. The play should show that everyone, including a black female can become a director and the diverse mix of cast will ensure that you would be able to identify with someone within among the characters which I find important.

How did your acting career begin?

I started volunteering in various youth theatres in Southwark and then joined the National Youth theatre which was where I first heard of a drama school. I eventually joined RADA drama school and finished last year. This is my first show in London.

What would you recommend an aspiring artist?

Research, research, research, I went to the library and did a lot of digging to find opportunities. Always focus on the end result and know that as an actor you want to convey a message.

This blog was writen by Ruth Iheu

“Truth and Reconciliation” is being staged as part of the Royal Court’s “Theatre Local” project; taking plays to alternative spaces.  www.royalcourttheatre.com

Theatre Local is taking place between 29 Sep – 19 Nov 2011 at The Bussey Building in Peckham, SE15 4ST and featuring two major plays; “Truth and Reconciliation” by Debbie Tucker Green from 29 Sep – 14 Oct 2011 and “The Westbridge” by Rachel De-Lahay from 3 Nov – 19 Nov 2011.

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